Plus XP

The Next Level In Gaming

Contributed by CJ

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In the heart there may be a singular kiss that’s remembered, continues to resonate, is considered the caress when you think of love.

She with the sparkle igniting in her eyes when she smiles, a grasp around the ribs with a push of nails in response to your embrace, the essence of cherry balm effervescent upon her lips as she applies the slightest, devilish bite.

lustrous sigh and a giggle in absolute duality in the space where your heart once beat a singular rhythm. A gaze betwixt the two of you that is pure electricity, the blossoming flush of reddening cheeks that tell you it’s real.

Souls.

Dark Souls is a game that I could never leave, a mistress calling me back time and time again, whispering sumptuous temptations of apocalypse sunshine, this surging adrenalin romantic that consumes me so.

Other games might seek to aim their debut sways, slow-motion swish their pretty locks and try to steal me away constantly. I may cast curious glances in their direction, dally towards their siren song, but I always return sooner rather than later. Truth be told, I could truly never leave.

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I’ve known nothing like this affair in all of my time gaming. It began with Demon’s Souls, a game I took a risk on importing, and thus began the courtship. A certain something in the combat that felt as if I was swinging the blows, each ‘clang’ of block instilled with the immediate fear as if I was defending my own life, not the cipher of sparkles that lives in the telly.

Such imagery sent me back to childhood adorations of ancient Greek mythology, books of myths and monsters devoured, infused by Ray Harryhausen’s marvellous clay creations screaming majestically upon the cinema screen. Cut to wide-eyed little-lad me, mouth aghast, precursor to newly ignited imaginations racing into back garden stick sword battles, electric sparks of felt-pens upon paper flourishing countless drawings sat up to the kitchen table. Worlds I could only dream of existing amidst, and in the modern day a place where I both find and I lose myself.

Here, immersed in this land of Skeletons, the undead, colossal dragons and monsters that feel real. Yet within this connection, living room lights off but for the television’s glow, there is no respite for the foolhardy. Boletaria’s denizens wish me undone, yet since those formative tales of Sinbads and Minotaurs, I have been clearly been building up to this since my time as a blighter.

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Flinging my Dragon Long Sword with magnificence, I whisper hush my heartbeat to mere sparrow steps, only breathing anew to ravenously ingest each wash of souls I’ve stolen. Wielding shields the size of fire doors, I chuck magic triumphantly at anything that dared to smite my progress, consuming the vile in blue and red fires. Boss after boss may coarsely roar in my direction, but as biblical sling-shot David I introduce each ugly face to the sting of the same dirt upon which they once stood proudly.

During the day my mind found a brand new duality, a blissful synchronicity where penny-earning blah was shunted to autopilot – and behind a newly plaster-smoothed hidden wall I plotted; stunning tactical machinations, new weapons to wield, cunning directions where I might seek to sneak and hide – all to seek my teeth into the apple flesh delicious of each bastards that dared block my progress.

For crying out loud, not even sleep found shelter from such obsessions, as I [foolishly?] skedaddled through each clockwork world over and over. Dial back the hands! Again! Again! – as if R.E.M. souls slain and gained would somehow factor into my save [I checked, it didn’t] – and even with this knowledge underlined and understood, the fingertips throttling my mind throat continued unabated.

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It would be remiss of me not to speak of being scared. Footsteps syrupy and considered. Ears attuned to every possible sound. Wondering if I had enough bluster to best the denizens standing in my way. At times it felt too much. Often the instinct that I simply wasn’t good enough. Yet the plaster-smoothed war room continued to scheme and believe in me. Deep breath, barrel out the chest, Prepare To Die again.

It took me a long time to finish Demon’s Souls. In the aftermath of such a proud triumph I ran headlong into New Game Plus, building on my new born legend and gleefully carving scarring lessons upon every swine that sought to smite me the first time.

Through the window to the real world Sony continued to cluelessly chuff up any comprehension of the gem they’d had a hand in creating. Even after Atlus’ American release became both a critical darling and gained such an impassioned fan base, still no European release was forthcoming. From stage left, in danced Bamco, and the spectacular star-jump of their gorgeous Black Phantom Edition; new guide, swanky artbook and OST, all emblazened with firey pre-Raphaelite hues. Mine.

Did you ever play that swimming baths game as a child where you and your friends saw how long each could hold their breath under water? September 17th 2010. 73 seconds. ‘Project Dark’.

I came up for air. Watched again. Held my breath. I’m sure there must have been a point where I didn’t partake in oxygen between viewings. The dark sign was cast, my need for air forgotten as I all but hollowed. A ‘Miss You’ card through the letterbox from that forever loved flame. A new hair cut, colour, cast in new fashions, but still the siren I loved. Calling anew with those eyes, that smile. My heartbeat belting down summer hills as it had always raced during our first courtship. Dark Souls.

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I counted down the days to October 7th like a kid on the cusp of Christmas. As the seventh of the tenth Postman-Santa arrived I re-discovered the familiar and fell hard for the new. Far more apples and oranges than I’d been lead to believe, From’s new game cast new monopolies upon my mind, drew me in even deeper.

Daydream and sleep obeyed a returning to instinctive edicts. Immersion became all consuming, as much as with Demon’s. Yet, I think I came to love Dark Souls more. I think.

The game made me buy it again and again. The initial PS3 purchase, became the Prepare To Die edition. Firstly the PC version, which I couldn’t play, and was snared purely for the art cards, poster and extended artbook. Friends picked up the 360 version and I wanted to help. Moreover, I wanted it period. The decision was taken out my hands when my bestie bought it for me for Christmas. How serendipitous! Prepare To Die again.

I have folders on my computer filled with scenes from Lordran’s lands, and art the world has inspired. I’ve posted countless times on message boards telling of my adventures, and devouring the wonderings and wanderings of other travellers of battle and surrender just like I.

It’s love, plain and simple. Mai game waifu, if you will. To many the above diatribe will sound utterly bonkers. Others will nod their head and smile, look introspectively and know that the inescapable siren song calls to them likewise.

If you’ve never fallen for a game to such a degree, whatever the game may be, I hope when you do it’s this deeply. That it’s truly amazing.

I love ‘Souls. Demon’s and Dark. I love them with all my heart.

- CJ

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Plus XP Contributors On March - 6 - 2013

8 Responses so far.

  1. cebo says:

    Great ode CJ. I love this game so much, there is more to unpeel with each new playthrough.

    Only yesterday, on probably my 7th new character, did I discover that you can summon Lautrec for the Gargoyle fight. Who knew!

  2. Fantastic post, CJ! After being persuaded by to get Dark Souls by this man and a few others, I think this post has finally given me the kick I need to drag it out of my backlog and start dying.

  3. Farron says:

    This is a great read. I knew you were more than a little in love with Dark Souls already and this expresses that passion very well. It’s even got me more interested in Dark Souls now so I’ll be picking it up at some point.

  4. Rui (Suncrest) says:

    Wow!

    I could feel the love you have for the game emanating from each sentence.

    You’re making it hard to keep my promise of playing a short game after a long game, maybe one of the Souls will have to be my next game to tackle.

    Congratulations to PlusXP for grabbing such a spirited contributor, I hope that this is the first of many articles.

    I know I’ll keep coming back for more!

  5. Shadowsigma says:

    Congrats again on Plus XP!

    You’ve really shown how much you love the game. Lots of passion and thoughts behind everything you write.

    I still need to get around to finishing Dark should but I’ve loved what I have played.

    Keep writing, love your work.

  6. Jason Wheat says:

    Bravo!

    A well written love poem to the game you adore.

    I’ll admit that I was a bit gun shy when the game was initially touted as “Going to kill you, repeatedly”, but after much hemming and hawing, I eventually took the plunge and found a game to completely immerse myself in, much like you.

    I hope to see more musing from you in the future… In fact, I look forward to reading what you output when Dark Arisen is upon us.

  7. Patrick Smith says:

    CJ, this is every bit the wonderful read that I expected from you. I can confirm that everything this man says is accurate, his blood is comprised of Souls games, it really is. He helped me through Demons with sage advice, and will be helping me through Dark as well.

    Your podcast pal congratulates!

  8. Congratulations CJ, and the PlusXP team on what I hope is the first of many collaborations. I could read the love coming off the page here, quite frankly it’s the same passion he shared which led me to the same game in the first place.

    If you haven’t played Dark Souls then the above should have you sold, I’m hoping to read more thoughts on the game and impending sequel in the coming months – preferably from CJ if possible so ill be checking back regularly.

    Two thumbs up from this guy, right here.

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