Don't Fear Dark Souls' More Accessible Sequel

Tom Mc Shea hypothesizes how Dark Souls II could retain the series' punishing appeal while welcoming in new players.

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Moments after Dark Souls II was officially revealed, anxiety spread from the fear that it would tarnish the legacy started by its predecessors. When the new director had the gall to say Dark Souls II would be "more straightforward and more understandable," it was like being impaled by the sword of the corrupted Knight Artorias. Was it possible that the esteemed Souls franchise could turn its back on the legions of followers who slayed every damned beast, even when hope of survival was no more than a dwindling flicker? It's a terrifying thought, as nerve-racking as any confrontation in the previous games, but one that may have been exaggerated. Dark Souls isn't as inaccessible as the popular belief holds, and with only a few modest tweaks, it could be more palatable while still retaining its punishing nature.

The bewilderment inherent to Dark Souls has been overstated, at least to some extent. As you stagger through the Undead Asylum (ostensibly the tutorial area), messages etched on the ground guide you toward your first major fight. Information detailing basic and advanced combat mechanics is spelled out, and there are notes on how campfires offer a respite from the ever-present hostility. Once the Asylum Demon falls to your blade, you're whisked to the Firelink Shrine, where a paranoid survivor explains the quest you now face. Two bells reside in Lordran--one down in the merciless depths, the other near the heavens--and upon ringing both, your path to salvation opens. Through short dialogue and nonintrusive messages, you understand your immediate goal and the means by which you must accomplish it, which is more than enough to set you on your way.

Although Dark Souls cloaks itself in a mysterious shroud, lore pertinent to your journey enlightens dutiful adventurers. Those who would rather join forces with another player than venture forth alone can find out how to accomplish that task after meeting Solaire before you encounter the first fire-breathing drake. For those who fancy fire-based magic, Laurentius expounds upon the mystical pyromancy, so long as you discover the storeroom where he is imprisoned. Other information is dispensed through item descriptions. Unlike other role-playing games, where a staggering amount of unnecessary text makes reading a chore, the few words that accompany the tools you acquire in Dark Souls can mean the difference between life and death. "This lantern alights the Tomb of the Giants," succintly sums up where and why to use the skull lantern.

Dark Souls could be more palatable while still retaining its punishing nature.

However, even information as obvious as this is delivered in a clouded way that makes discovering the truth an achievement. In hindsight, reading what makes the skull lantern special seems like a no-brainer, but considering that you can't pause in Dark Souls, and there are monsters continually fiending for your flesh, its understandable that someone wouldn't read that description. And it's that obfuscation that makes Dark Souls so difficult for newcomers. Dark Souls is a brilliant game where every inch of progress is earned and every discovery is monumental, but the inherent appeal wouldn't dissolve if certain aspects were explained more clearly.

For instance, upgrading your gear is one of the most important steps for survival. But the manner in which you go through this process is so convoluted that only the most determined individuals (or those willing to read a walkthrough) can figure out how to accomplish this typical endeavor. This needs to change. Terms such as "ParamBonus" hint at but don't fully explain their significance, and it wouldn't detract at all from the core appeal to explain these aspects through optional overlays in the menu. Furthermore, Dark Souls relied on various hidden embers (that must be delivered to specific blacksmiths) to upgrade your weapons and armor beyond a certain point. Burying such a necessary element deep within the expansive and dangerous world erected a pointless barrier that prevented many people from obtaining success. Cleaning up the upgrade system would let more people enjoy the Dark Souls experience without diluting what makes the franchise special.

As important as upgrades are, many people don't even reach the point where that's a serious concern. Rather, it's the perceived difficulty that cuts playtimes short, or steers people completely away from the get-go. Dark Souls can be difficult, but it's not the moment-to-moment combat that's so deflating. Instead, it's the extreme punishment an unexpected death brings. In Dark Souls, if you die, not only do you get sent back to the previous checkpoint (which could be quite a distance, especially if you move cautiously), but you lose all of the souls you've collected in the process. Now, the latter aspect is handled in such an expert manner that to tinker with that would destroy much of the fundamental appeal. Being fearful of death is paramount to what makes Dark Souls tick, so there has to be sufficient punishment to make you move carefully.

However, the first aspect of the death process could be tweaked. One of the most memorable moments in Dark Souls happens when you encounter Seath the Scaleless for the first time. It's a fight that's impossible to be victorious in, and you find quickly enough that you're no match for this albino monster. However, there's a twist you discover after you awaken from death. Instead of being sent to the beginning of Duke's Archives, you're crammed in a jail cell elsewhere in the area. Gone is the repetition of having to replay the same section over and over again. Instead, you venture forth in a new locale, with creepy monsters and eerie music streaming from an unseen phonograph keeping you company.

Being fearful of death is paramount to what makes Dark Souls tick, so there has to be sufficient punishment to make you move carefully.

If Dark Souls II could use this encounter as a blueprint for how to handle death, it would be able to retain the challenge that makes the game eminently rewarding, while avoiding the drudgery of repeatedly playing the same battles. Unfortunately, because you need to retrace your steps to recover your lost souls, simply making you respawn at a random campfire each time would destroy the intricate web From Software has weaved, but there is one solution that builds on this idea.

What if Dark Souls II borrowed a page from roguelikes? When you die and get sent back to the campfire in Dark Souls, everything goes back to exactly how it was beforehand. That means the enemies stand in the same place as before, ready to pounce when you walk past that statue or slither up this staircase. It's because of that predictability that you eventually learn how to overcome the many dangers that face you, but it also can create a feeling of deja vu that can be stifling to some. If enemies were placed in random positions, no longer would you feel suffocated by performing the same actions more than once, and even expert players would have to venture forth in a cautious, death-awaits manner.

This would be a drastic change from how Demon's Souls and Dark Souls unfolded, but it's not like the franchise has played it safe. Dark Souls implemented an expansive overworld, after all, a sharp contrast from the level-based affairs of its predecessor, so shifting how death is handled would be in line with how From Software is willing to reinvent its cherished child. Now, if such a system were implemented, the checkpoints would have to be more forgiving. No one would want to trudge through the same expanse to reach the boss if random enemies could fell you with a surprise attack, so bonfires would have to be located closer to bosses for this to work. But in the rest of the world, this unpredictability would alleviate the repetition of replaying identical sections until you perfect them, which could make the game seem less exhausting for those scared to enter.

It's too early to tell what From Software has planned for the next iteration in the Dark Souls series, but there's no reason to be afraid that the core appeal will be destroyed. Dark Souls did a masterful job of communicating important information in an unobtrusive way, but there were still a wealth of imperative aspects left unexplained. Detailing what the role of humanity is, or how to kindle a bonfire, would crack open the door to a wider audience without alienating those who already love the franchise, and unexpected changes could delight in exciting ways, just like the transition to an open world did. Dark Souls is brilliant because of its intricate combat, incredible level design, moody atmosphere, and unending sense of accomplishment. To deliver those ideals to more people could only have positive reverberations industry-wide.

Discussion

0 comments
jonnyb81
jonnyb81

There is a high level difficulty to the series, but I think what I loved most was the feeling of being lost or hopeless and trying to make sense of things.  I liked that there were no tutorials, no explanation of the world, no hand-holding.  I did spend a great deal of time online trying to figure things out, but then I'd have to set my iPad to the side and return to an unforgiving world that offered little solace.

Bjjorick
Bjjorick

make the game harder.  i agree that the difficulty was overstated.  Please don't screw up this game 


Dark souls is what made me believe there was still a place for me in 'modern gaming'

technogeist
technogeist

The only thing it needs is a COMPLETE manual describing the EVERY RULE of the world(the game) you live in, like detailed button layouts, what happens when you use camp/use humanity/die/kill, just like you already know the physics and rules of real life. Just the rules though, no weapon/armor/monster lists etc.

Also, it would be cool if it wasn't so easy too, make the next one difficult. (¬_¬) No, really, I'm actually serious, just a little harder, maybe lose some items/weapons/armor along with the souls when you die. BRING IT!( ̄ー ̄)

devtech
devtech

Random enemies imo would be a BAD idea. Having enemies in known locations gives the player that has mastered the area the ability to traverse the area without much hassle while forcing a player new to the area to be on guard at all times. Making all players be on guard with every single run through an area, not matter how many times they've done it, would only increase the tediousness of the game and not make it more 'new player friendly'. Secondly, I wouldn't mess with the bonfire system; it's perfect in its' current state.

psi_kick
psi_kick

Dark Souls is near perfect as is. I would like to see improvements to NG+ though. I think as long as Myazaki is involved we have nothing to worry about in future games, hope he lives forever. He hasn't let me down yet and I've been a fan since King's Field 1. If you like that stuff and have a PS2 look for King's Field the ancient city, seems not many people know about that game and it's a gem.

Skilnes
Skilnes

fck that, make it harder

TheTwists
TheTwists

I loved playing Demon Souls and Dark Souls, but I couldn't beat either game without cheating (Demon Souls i would quit the game every time i died which would make the game start up at the point of dying in human form, and i used the dragon head soul breathing glitch for Dark Souls), with this being said i would love for there to be an easy mode and a traditional mode. I also believe that random enemy locations would be great, stock enemy locations made the replay value really low for me because i spent so much time figuring out enemy locations the first time why would i want to do it a second time.

CaptainCecil
CaptainCecil

Randomizing enemy locations would be detrimental to the balance of the game. I'd hate to be half way to a boss when a fast tough foe is hiding in the shadows to one shot me. Just let it be what it is, a well-balanced gaming experience.

donmega1
donmega1

I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle iI totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it.t. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it. I totally disagree, people need to just get a strategy guide if they can handle it.

mazoomy
mazoomy

Dark Souls is already a near perfect game, but some things could still be improved. Sure, certain aspects of the game could be explained better, but what really needs to happen to appeal to the core fan base and make the next game over the top are:

 

1. Random enemy placement and new enemy combinations in New Game +. This is a big problem for me because, while enemies' health and damage are increased, the game does not really get harder because you already know where every enemy is and what they do. By randomizing enemies per bonfire rest in New Game +, newer players would be able to familiarize themselves with the game in the relatively "safe" and routine regular game, and as players become more experienced in the game they move on to the constantly changing enemy layouts of New Game +.

 

2. More Black Phantoms and world tendency. I'm not just talking about npc style BPs like in Demon's Souls, but more like the pure black world tendency upgraded enemies. World tendency also was an amazing concept which should have been retained in some form for Dark Souls. It could perhaps open new areas or allow access to rare upgrade materials and items. A way to incorporate world tendency would be to adjust the tendency for a player depending on how well they are playing. As a player makes it for stretches of time without dying and collecting large amounts of souls, world tendency should start shifting towards pure black to make the game more challenging. Likewise if a player is doing horribly and dying repeatedly, the game should shift towards pure white tendency.

 

3. More involved covenant play. Players of the same covenant should be able to interact more, such as, for example, having group hunts in Dark Anor Londo or the forest, or a Way of the White player joining an invaded "good" covenant player's game without being summoned to help them out. 4v4 battles between the "good" covenants and the "evil" covenants would be a blast to participate in. I also think that there should be more rewards for ranking up as a covenant member.

 

4. More weapons. This could be achieved, for example, through more forging options, more attack patterns or perhaps even weapons with random attributes like in the Diablo games (although I would be cautious about this one). The game simply feels a little too limited in the weapons available to you. What I also want to see is more usable boss souls to create more unique weapons.

 

5. More in depth armor forging. This is pretty self-explanatory; weapons have a very deep forging system whereas armors are limited to straight +x levels. I think its only fair that armor deserves a similar treatment.

Mausolus
Mausolus

Pleasing both crowds is easy, just retain the punishing elements of the game in an 'ironman' type mode with special achievements attached to it, and give a more forgiving game to everyone else that wants a more casual experience. Everyone wins?

Derugs
Derugs

I absolutely love this editorial :) 

pakhair
pakhair

I know I will garnish tons of hatred with the following comment :), but anyways that's what my belief is:

 

Dark Souls should have an easy start and anywhere save system, so it gets punishing gradually instead of brutal and indigestible for tons of us.

 

Except that the core formula is brilliant despite of some framerate issues, it only needs upgrade rather then re-imagination

JURGMANDR
JURGMANDR

I actually like the points McShea brings up like getting rid of the embers/ better UI and more descriptions, those are all things that started to really bother me the more I played. The random enemy placement is a pretty cool idea, the repetition did kind of get old real fast. Another thought I had would be to lower the number of usable weapons but give them increased movesets so we can do more with them.

sno_borda
sno_borda

My fellow Soul's Bro's: what other ways do you think they can improve upon the franchise? What are you most concerned with having Shibuya at the helm? Let's get this conversation flowing again today.

angeloti83
angeloti83

Mc shea is soo into dark souls :D

GunEye
GunEye

I think these are great news.

Straight-forward doesn't necessarily means "linear" or boring.

 

SO:

if the next Dark Souls would provide a flowing gameplay, without forcing you to constantly leave everything, disconnect from the Souls' world, and open a web browser to check if you missed anything/what you missed, or how to craft the holy sword, or how to make sure this character appears, etc etc...

 

I want a walkthrough-free gameplay. I want blacksmiths with decent charts to know exactly which stones I need for a +10 spear, and which broken straight swords I need for the Greatsword of Aratorias.

 

And admit it: even you Dark Souls veterans - you probably all spent the same or more  time - online in the web, infront of Darksouls wika, or a different walkthough/forum - than in the actual game.

 

A walkthrough free game, an "understandable" game that doesn't slow you down on un-reasonable "secrets" or mechanics - THAT'S a truly immersive game. A game that's holding you constantly absorbed -not letting you go.

Stop spoilling the atmosphere and let us simply be absorbed. I would love to finish DSII without checking the web, not even a single time.

sno_borda
sno_borda

To make this game more appealing, and watered down to players who think it too difficult is ludacris. It needs to be pushed in the direction of the massive fan base of us true Souls players. If anything they need to make the game more complex, more challenging, which in turn makes it that much more rewarding. People continue to complain about the difficulty, or not being able to understand the lore. Those people need to go play some crap games, like the elder scrolls titles for example. With it's weak combat system and repetitive gameplay. The souls series is a work of art and at the top of my list for most amazing and innovative games to come out period! To take away anything to make it more appealing for "dumbed-down" gamers would take away from it's beauty and pure entertainment. With Miyazaki gone as lead game director, I just don't know what to think at this point. I try to look at the positives, but this is an unclear time for our Souls community.

 

"Umbassa the sun"!!!

bodamer
bodamer

Yeah, please don't do these things. You will ruin the game and the best online community that there is.

sno_borda
sno_borda

"umbassa the sun", b*tch! haha

RAMUHAS
RAMUHAS

Japanese have a lot of different words to express "difficult", "accessible" and "straightforward". I checked the Japanese version of the interview and this quote over there uses the word "difficult" as in "convoluted" and "hard to understand" (難解). In other words they are making it more accessible not through decreasing the difficulty, but through making its system easier to understand, as in better tutorials (think tendency in Demon's Souls). It doesn't seem that he hints at story either, so this whole mess is mostly due to difficulty of translating subtle nuances of language. ><

SultaN-s
SultaN-s

IT IS THE FEAR AND CONFUSION THAT MAKES DARK SOULS SUCH A THRILLING EXPERIENCE. I don't think people gets this game. It's not just about killing the bad guys. You have to search for them and learn about them.And what the hell is it with this 'NEWCOMER' nonsense ??!! Do you have to make EVERY game suitable for EVERYONE ?! Why not take FIFA and add explosions and naked girls to it to attract newcomers too ? Dark Souls already has million of fans and its reputation is still growing and attracting more people to it.

jomipira
jomipira

It still kind of funny to see over 1000 comments, a few my own, over... no info at all about the new game! A trailer and a few words from the developer and bam, the internet is on fire. Much ado about nothing...

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

@Bjjorickmake it harder in still a linear way, so it gets harder but at a steady pace. also, hello from the future 2014!

technogeist
technogeist

@pakhair Saving would ruin the entire game, you can't save in real life, that is the point, to be REAL. Saving is the biggest downfall of modern games, they became easy and pointless, it takes away so much of the feeling of accomplishment. I feel like I've been waiting 20 years for Dark Souls, finally a game with NORMAL difficulty, just like when I was a kid. Honestly, I think it's still WAY too easy, but it's a start. Even though I would like it more difficult, I think a "hard mode" would be a bad idea too, a single difficulty setting standardizes it and lets players compare their adventures and tails from a common perspective.

snake8304
snake8304

 @pakhair actually i don't disagree with your comment i quit playing darksouls after 4 hours (too damn hard) and i get back to it a month later 'cause a found a complete guide on the internet but i think Darksouls 2 simply should have a difficulty selector in that way the newcomers won't get frustrated and hardcore veretans can get the brutal challenge they want.

Napalm_354
Napalm_354

 @pakhair

 The difficulty of the souls series is over rated, it is never really punishing. But this article is spot on, for a new comer who doesn't know how the game ticks, how to upgrade the equipment it can be really brutal yes.

 

I almost quit playing on my first playthrough too, made it to anor londo and my main weapon broke, I somehow didn't quite figure out that that gargoyle can transport you back, and for some reason I missed buying the repair box. So there I was running through londo with a sub-par weapon, untill i found the giant smith to repair my sword, was hard I tell you. When I got to know the game better, I almost kicked myself, that situation was so easy to resolve.

Restivus
Restivus

 @sno_borda Feature request: Customizable Heads Up Display. The huge HUD icons, emblazoned text, and status bars detract from the immersion. At minimum, there should be options for setting the size of separate HUD elements. Additional options for timed turn off of text in HUD and setting opacity would be great. Having health and stamina meters that hide when they are full (ala Skyrim) might work, as would auto-hiding the lower left HUD elements on a timeout after invocation. Cf. Dead Space: We see what we are brandishing, no need to replicate that in HUD.

 

As a fun challenge I did a complete Demon's Souls playthrough with the HUD disabled. It definitely heightened the experience, and increased the cursing.

snake8304
snake8304

 @GunEye Dude best comment in this seccion you are so damn right! i spend a lot of hours in the darksouls wiki,i totaly agree with you.

souther_hill
souther_hill

 @GunEye amazing comment. I remember 15 years ago, when games were immersive, yet totaly clear. I agree with you 100%!

jomipira
jomipira

 @sno_borda Elder Scrolls games and the Souls games have nothing to do with each other. It's like comparing CoD to Fifa. You can call them RPG's, but the essence of the appeal of them is quite different. Personally I love them both.

Lawto13
Lawto13

Thats what ot sounded like to me too actually, a translation error maybe just for the hype@RAMUHAS

LordBalfurion
LordBalfurion

 @RAMUHAS Thank you for this level of a reply.  The fact that you logically went and looked at the possibility of there being a subtle translation issue goes to show your level of thought.  Translating from any Asian language to American can be a finicky thing due to the differing and hierarchical nature of that part of the World's cultures.  The idea that what was actually implied in the original interview was speaking to the unintelligible nature of the menus and upgrade system is an important part of the discussion.  I absolutely love Dark Souls, probably my favorite game of all time, but I would welcome a slightly more refined menu system and what is needed for what, but, and this is a key part, in the traditional nebulous way Dark Souls presents information. 

SultaN-s
SultaN-s

 @RAMUHAS I hope you're right. Though I don't see how is that important now. This is the third SOULS game, why would they decide they want to better explain the gameplay mechanics ?!

snake8304
snake8304

 @SultaN-s You are right,Darksouls should remain as a experience for hardcore players not casual player and multiplayer adrenaline junkies,Next thing we know darksouls get's a competitive multiplayer like cod with perks and downloable maps.

thread-of-red
thread-of-red

 @jomipira

 Goes to show how many people now really care about the series :) It's a shame that one of the new directors decided such a bad time to decalre it more accessible and straight forward. No DS fans wanted to hear that and it kind of took the excitment out of the announcement of DS2. With that quote, he should have explained himself better.

HoistThatRag
HoistThatRag

 @Napalm_354  @pakhair Its exactly this experience you had that makes these games so good. Trial and error. At least you did remember this and could write about it here long after.

GunEye
GunEye

@snake8304 By the way, I have full appreciation for the great guys at dark souls wika, wikispaces, etc. They are doing a fantastic job supporting the Souls' community.

GunEye
GunEye

 @souther_hill

 Thanks, I glad we see eye to eye.

and reading again through Tom's article, I completely agree with him, making the game much less repetitive and much less tedious is very improtant imo. 

 

And I'd like to add:

Not only should enemies be positioned randomly, and not only should you spawn randomly at times:

The whole concept of online world can mean a ton: ever changing world. Walls, doorways, corridors, secret paths - all should wrap and change around you with each log-in and death.

Complete randomness. So no walkthrough in the world can guide you through it. And the same goes for enemies and random events.

Think of it: this is a survival action game.

What if enemies would not only spawn randomly, but would not just stand there, waiting to jump at you, or for you to backstab them - over and over again.

Enemies should patrol, wander, roam, flee, search and HUNT. And also joing together, hunt in packs, hunt each other etc..

Imagine walking through a dark cave, and then  hearing a rumbling sound - all of the sudden a horde of crazed enemies rush in into the corridor - you have a few moments to choose - fight, run, or hide and let them pass... but risk conering yourself..

You die reload, and instead the same cave is all empty but then a giant spider pounched on you, or black phantoms lurk and hunt you.

 

Remeber you can't pause this game! This game should be way more dangerous, why being dangerous only when you step forward. Why facing a sure death when you can face an uncertain death!?

 

I think that if Dark Souls developers would focus more on the unpredictable, the dynamic and ever changing gameplay, enemies and world - making everything flow and move by its own - THIS could be GROUNDBREAKING.

 

 

No game did this in the past,  this is my vision of a true Souls experience.

sno_borda
sno_borda

 @jomipira I was giving an example of a game that appeals to the masses! I never said they have anything to do with each other! Obviously I was stating that point when I said the Elder Scrolls "with it's crap combat system and repetitive gameplay". Which the Souls series has amazing gameplay and is always changing in every environment.

jomipira
jomipira

 @thread-of-red He should have kept is mouth shut until he had something to show. Now it's this whirlwind of speculation. Maybe it's just a more fleshed out story, or more understandable mechanics like covenants for instance. Maybe it's something everybody will like. But this far out it only creates tension.

snake8304
snake8304

 @GunEye  @souther_hill That is what we all want a never boring experience that plays different everytime we play it,excellent comment.

spKeeper20
spKeeper20

 @GunEye  @souther_hill 

Although what you said about the random doorways and passages is intriguing, it seems like it would be a huge undertaking because the entire environment has to be regenerated each death.  This would mean huge load times.  Imagine TES load times but worse.  As far as your ideas about enemies though, I think that would greatly improve the game.  Certain enemies should still remain scripted, but if the smaller common enemies attacked and appeared in random amounts and places, the tension of exploring an area for the first time would always be present.

jomipira
jomipira

 @sno_borda First person melee combat is never easy. I guess the guys who nailed it were the Chivalry: Medieval Warfare ones. But I never played it myself. It's one place where the Elder Scrolls series can improve. Although I never played those games for the combat itself, it's more that immersive world I inhabit. Of course Dark Souls combat system is one of the most fine tuned I can remember!

sno_borda
sno_borda

 @jomipira It is all speculation at this point. I have played Skyrim and I was in love with the huge open world. But come on man the combat is soooooooooo terrible. LOL i'm just saying, if they could improve upon that in the next title, who knows I may enjoy them a lot more, but until then it's Souls till I die! I got to admit though I have been playing a lot of Diablo 3 lately, haha not many people are a fan of that title. To each their own....

jomipira
jomipira

 @sno_borda The Scrolls game are far from crap, but hey, that's your opinion. And by the way, nobody actually said the game would be easier or dumb down. Quite the contrary, Namco Bandai released a statement saying it would be as difficult as ever.

thread-of-red
thread-of-red

 @jomipira

 At least NAMCO BANDAI released a statement saying it would be true to the difficulty of the previous games, that part felt good to read

thread-of-red
thread-of-red

 @jomipira

 Yeah I can't argue with anything you've written there. Especially because it's not the same director. It's like "who is this guy and what is he doing with my souls series?"