From Software and me go back for some years now. The Japanese developer came under my radar upon playing a demo of Armored Core for Playstation. It was (is) any mecha fanboy dream game. Around that same time, Tenchu pretty much sealed the deal for me: A company that understood both mecha and ninjas is surely a company worth keeping tabs on. Good times to own a Playstation. It was only on PS2 however that I was introduced to King's Field, the IV entry to be more precise. It was super hardcore! A medieval setting RPG that didn't apologize for killing you left and right if you decided it was a good idea to take on anything above your pay grade. After that game, I encounter them once more on a curious and unique GameCube title, Lost Kingdoms. This past Summer I was reunited with these guys once more...

Quote the giant raven: Never more.

You Died! That's all I really needed to write on this arTAYcle and pretty much everyone who has played Dark Souls would go "I get you, bro." This impressive sequel to Demon Souls (which sadly I never played) became the definition of hard. Mind you, like F-Zero GX it is hard but not unfair! An unfair game will frustrate you to no end with broken gameplay and simply impossible situations the player can never hope to win by his skill alone. Dark Souls is nothing of the kind.

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I got axe for you.

Dark Souls is beautiful. Not in a colourful and cheery way, in a dark-fantasy medieval setting moody way. A cursed world you have to explore, yourself a cursed human and then die, quite a lot. Over and over, you die. Sometimes because you picked a fight with someone (or something) ten times stronger than you but most of the time because of one of humanity's biggest flaws: Greed.

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A deceitful powerful weapon: The enemy can't kill you if he can't reach you.

"Wow, I really want to go explore over there even if I am low on Estus. I should be fine!" was the last thoughts crossing my mind before being jumped by gigantic, huge sword wielding skeletons at a graveyard. Who knew a place where the dead rest could get so lively, eh? Live again and learn. Running away is not an option either, your stamina will eventually run out and your foes never forgive and never forget, they will hunt you down to the last mile of the map if needed. Progress in this game is all about collecting souls, discovering new camp fires and building up your character.

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Need a hand? How about two? Zweihänder: Never leave home without it.

There is an impressive amount of loot lying around this world in both chests and enemies. I have spent quite many hours trying out weapons and armour on my character. It's a huge part of the fun for me in RPGs, I love when you have direct visual feedback on some new piece of equipment, something that was not always possible in earlier video game system generations. It's a big incentive to keep playing but the biggest one is the very same I found a few years ago on the Wii

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Holy son of a b****!

One of the things that captivated me more on Xenoblade Chronicles was the fact that I could see vast places ahead. This open world feeling and the urge to explore further, to get from the place you're standing to the place you're looking at its quite probably the reason why Dark Souls appeals so much to me. I want to see what's next. Of course there is always a Dragon or something even bigger in the way, regardless of size the enemies here will always test your skills at dodging, parrying and countering. Again, hard but never unfair. And very, very rewarding.

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Oh, here is some found footage. As soon as I found a Zweihänder sword by the cemetery, my goal was to be able to wield it single handedly. A few Strength upgrade later and this was the result. Ah, fun times...

This is the only game on this series of artTAYcles I have yet to complete. That because I only played it on my last week of vacations and got about 8 to 9 hours on my save game. I spend that time replaying and re-killing enemies so I could get enough souls to upgrade my character. Sounds like a shore, but it wasn't. That's possibly one of the best things about the game, you never feel like you're losing your time grinding to no purpose.

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Would I buy today on Wii U?

You bet! This game and the sequel at full price. Even without online multiplayer (as long as they allowed for a second player to play on the Gamepad) this is a truly epic hardcore RPG, one I will no doubt pour many more hours of my life into completing. Sadly the producers already publicly stated "No way!" crushing that dream for good. Maybe next year I will tackle it's equally brilliant sequel also on PC since I don't see myself buying another home console any time soon.

I am Fire. I am Death.

Thanks for reading. That is all for today, that menacing looking red Drake awaits my sword. Catch you on the bounce! ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ

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Previously on Games of Summer 2014: Never Leave Eurasia Alive!

Next time on Games of Summer 2014: The exciting conclusion! What other game could possibly be Shiryu's favourite game of Summer 2014? Don't miss out the last act of this thrilling ride. One could say it's an absolute dream...

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Sun goes down, temperature drops... Beautiful burnout, Beautiful burnout...