In ever-topical fashion, here is a discussion on Dark Souls. A game series I love, but which is in the autumn of its years. Well, it’s finished. But none the less it is well loved. The remaster of the first game is with us, and is simultaneously praised and criticised for its resemblance to the first. Where some argue praise is deserved for the closeness of the experience to the original, others point out this is because it is the original, that the product is the same. What we all agree on is that this is a game series that stands in the face of Angry Birds. I grew up with Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. These were games where the difficulty started low, so anyone could learn the ropes, and ramped generally gently, to maintain a level of challenge as the players skill level grows. In more modern times, such as today, the industry has changed. It’s diversified. The old stuff is still there, but it’s receding as the tide of mobile gaming swells. Gamers used to be a demographic. To some extent, most people are gamers. The depth depends on your platform. Of course it’s the smart phone that has brought with it the new style of gaming. Sat at a bus-stop, it will be difficult to be emotionally engaged and ready for a AAA thriller title to push the envelope of what gaming can be, because I need to keep an eye out for the number 17 bus. I need Angry Birds or Pacman here. Stop and start gaming with no overheads. The gaming that occurs on a console or on a PC is there, but it’s not the whole market anymore. Valiantly, Dark Souls not only is in this now niche sector, it is a niche within a niche. With mainstream appeal. That’s a combination to be proud of. Angry Birds has told us that we can move on from a level with only one star out of three. Dark Souls does not. Dark Souls doesn’t tell you what to do, punishes you for not knowing, and punishes you again for daring to try. Dark Souls watches you shakily ride away on your new bike, stabilisers clacking, sheds a tear as it clocks how far you’ve come, how much you’ve learnt. Then, once it’s tear drops onto the ground, pulls out a grenade and throws it into your spokes. You’re not good enough yet my little love, it says. Then tell me, what, what must I do?! You may implore. Cold grim silence emanates from the metaphoric form of this game franchise. It reaches down to the fragments of your bike, assembles them in front of you. Again, it insists. But why was I… AGAIN says Dark Souls. But the day you find yourself veering around, barely retaining balance, but rolling slowly on your metaphor bike, you will feel a pride that Angry Birds will never impart on you. Angry Birds is fun for everyone, so everyone – anyone – can do it. Dark Souls gives you pride if you can work for it. Two people who discover they have both finished a Dark Souls game can understand with nothing more said that here is a person who has a capacity for suffering. Not even mandatory, inescapable suffering, but more importantly, voluntary and recreational suffering. Almost a fetish like NEED for pain and reward. It’s really quite kinky in a way. Dark Souls deserves respect for daring to tell you you’re not good enough in a crowded room of your sycophantic fans. While they tell you you smell great, Dark Souls is looking you up and down in disdain. One day though, you will win its respect, and though it may never crack a smirk, you’ll be in the circle. That brave cohort of mavericks that stand file along the path of most resistance.