Chuck has three apples. If Chuck needs half a cheese wheel to defeat the Nameless King, then where did Jesus hide the prune juice? All these are very valid questions pertaining to Dark Souls but more importantly, they represent resources that a player can manage to ensure the greatest reward. Although, in Dark Souls, the best outcome is probably just survival and to escape from the endless humiliation of the “You Died” screen.
In Dark Souls, the player is given three resources to manage during combat, it consists of health, stamina, and mana. While both health and mana are both depletable the stamina bar recharges with time, but when the stamina bar does deplete the player goes into a pathetic limping state of being that couldn’t dodge the broadside of a moving tortoise. Dark Souls balances ease of combat with punishable restrictions that discourage reckless spamming of the attack button. As I posted in my last piece, Dark souls series are all about timing and smart decisions. Screw up and pay the price. However, it doesn’t mean the game doesn’t give the player the necessary tool to finish the job at hand. Health is depletable but items to restore health is abundant. They balance this mechanic by making the items also depletable until the player reaches a checkpoint, enemies hit hard, and the player starts the game with very limited health recovery items. This teaches the player the necessary skills to survive but forcing them to be cautious and gaining the tools to avoid, or diminish, the damage taken. FromSoftware goes even a step further because the health recovery items can be recharged the game doesn’t want to reduce the challenge so all the enemies you’ve slain are revived with the exceptions of bosses.
Balancing the tools given to the player and the gameplay makes Dark Souls a true experience that not only challenges but stay fair in its mechanics. Furthermore, the game realizes if the whole game consists of swinging your weapon of choice, it would be both boring and a waste of their fantasy genre tag. Therefore, with the addition of the mana bar, the game can introduce a whole other set of tools for the player to incorporate into their own personal playstyles. Once again, FromSoftware balances the player’s actions by limiting their usage of special abilities in a certain amount of time frame before they require a mana recovery item. Like the health items, though, the mana recovery item is also rechargeable. Mana restricts melee orientated players on using their weapon’s special ability and creates an opening for enemies from the relentless assault of the magic orientated players.
Dark Souls has a system in place that required the players to manage their resources wisely or face the heavily punishing consequences. Of course, managing the increasing levels of frustration from losing over and over again can be considered a game mechanic, but it is more likely the player just needs to stop and take a break. Go smoke a cigarette or something. You’ve been cursing for hours now and I think your neighbors are calling the cops because of their pretty sure that you’re beating your wife and you know how the last time a police officer showed up at your doors when you beat Dark Souls 1. Anyways, see you all next post.