Thursday, July 18th, 2019 am31 11:28am

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Dark Souls III Is Brutally Hard, But You’ll Keep Playing Anyway

Wreathed in flames of claret and crimson, he charges me, slashing again and again with the fury and the presence of a dying sun. I hold my ground, blocking and dodging for several minutes, taking my own shots when I can. But it’s too much. I slip up. He shreds my battered body. The words “YOU DIED” scrawl across my screen.

It was the 437th time I’d died over 74 hours of Dark Souls III. When it came, accompanied as it was by the distorted sound of a gong, I trembled. I was filled not with rage or frustration, but adrenaline: I was so close. When my hero came back to life, etched into the dirt before her was a message. “Visions of hope.” Filled with resolve, I took a few deep breaths and stepped back into the arena.

At the end of my trek through broken, tortured lands, the battle raged on in a field of blood-stained blossoms and rusted swords once again. On my way there, I’d fought aberrant beasts and the souls of ancient knights in locales that spanned the depths of hell to the highest towers of long-dead civilizations, but this was it. This time it was different. This time I was perfect.

I dodged and parried, striking back with an exacting ferocity. This was my moment. This was my victory—flawless and intoxicating, just as I’d imagined it would be.

Dark Souls III, to be released on April 12 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, is a tough beast to tackle—and I’m not just talking about its Lovecraftian monsters. The series has a reputation for being extremely difficult. And while that’s definitely true, terse quips about how unfair these games can be undersells the beauty of the series. Dark Souls is hard, yes, but the series’ creator Hidetaka Miyazaki says it’s not hard for its own sake.

“As a child, I used to read novels which [were] rather difficult for my age,” Miyazaki said in an email. His parents were poor, he said, and couldn’t afford age-appropriate books, so the young Miyazaki borrowed whatever he could from his library. He developed a taste for high fantasy, but couldn’t understand all of the words. “The stories were fragmented and filled with mysteries,” he said. “But I enjoyed putting the pieces… together and filling the gaps with my imagination.”

When he found himself a game designer at From Software, he wanted to bring that style of storytelling to his work. “Dark Souls is in a way incomplete,” he says. “I want players to complete it with their discoveries. I know that this makes it harder and keeps some away from the game.”