I am not a good sport when it comes to video games. When playing games where suboptimal moves affect you later, I tend to quit and restart as soon as I realize I’ve made one. It’s not a need to win exactly, more like I care more about building a thing than winning and once the foundation is cracked, the building is worthless.
This would seem to make me a poor candidate for Dark Souls, a game known for killing you a lot.
But there’s a kind of game that doesn’t have this problem: matching games like Candy Crush. I refuse to give them money, so for me Candy Crush is basically an exercise in pulling the lever until I happen to get a winnable configuration. For hard levels this can take days and occasionally weeks. Fun is the wrong word. It’s relaxing, it occupies my hands while listening to podcasts, and it helps me think by powering up the sort-and-organize modules of my brain without occupying them.
Dark Souls turns out to just as good for this if not better. You run around, you kill some zombies, you die, you kill the same zombies again. Three days later you kill enough to actually clear the area and find the boss, who you spend another three days attempting to kill. Then you get mauled by rats before you can make it to a save point, and die again at the hands of the same zombies you’ve killed 40 times, thus removing any chance of using the XP you received for killing the boss.
This could be incredibly frustrating, but I found it zen. My bad moves couldn’t poison the game because I was meant to die every 5 minutes. Even losing my boss XP was a non-event, it just meant I had to spend some time farming.
Or so I thought. Watching some playthroughs, I learned that interactions with NPCs could have permanent consequences. I didn’t consciously choose to quit then, and there were other factors like “my friend stopped playing” and “nothing is as fun as Blighttown”, but it played a role. The same thing happened with Stardew Valley- I thought I was playing a fun game about farming I could play at my own pace and then I learned I was on a timeline to get married and build a house and I didn’t get the energy to pick it up again until it was updated to let you continue after judgement day.
Anyways, Dark Souls:Remastered is currently 40% off at Humble Bundle (sponsored link). If this very specific kind of zen appeals to you, now is a good time to check it out.