THE DIARY OF THE MASOCHISTIC MONK [DARK SOULS TOO BAREHANDED CHALLENGE]

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SUCCESS!
It's kinda ironic how masomonk's name would imply relishing in the pain, rather than wanting to stomp sadistically on the enemy's corpse. But I suppose that's the dualism between the character and the player here.

Love hearing your progress : D And yeah, it's not as spicy as the other run throughs so far, but it's still fun to hear you making progress!
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
I was expecting way more pain than what I've been getting, frankly. I didn't realize that pumping all the souls I got from bosses (including popping boss soul items which I ordinarily never use) into my Strength and Vit stats would give me as many levels as I used to. Shoot, I'm already level 42, which is about halfway where I usually am when I beat a Souls game, and I'm not even a fourth of the way through this one!

Maybe I should change directions here and finally pick up the ladle? I'm way stronger than I was at the start of the game now, so perhaps I can finally do some damage to the bosses? But then I wouldn't be a masochistic monk anymore.

These are the issues that keep me up at night.
Marrend
Guardian of the Description Thread
19479
I'm tempted to tell you to use the ladle for exactly one boss fight to see how it pans out. However, to retain the spirit of the challenge, going without is perfectly valid.
Vaccaria
That's right, go forth. Don't look back.
4859
Increase difficulty for maximum masochism.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
BOSS 5: THE LOST SINNER



A.K.A. the Dancing Queen

HP: 3,900 (According to Fextralife Wiki)


I was doing 55 damage per hit.

For those of you that were disappointed in the lack of pain in the last boss, I am happy to inform you that I did something stupid for this boss fight. You know, something other than fighting it with my bare hands.

The gimmick to the Lost Sinner fight is that it's in a dark prison cell. Before entering, there are two spiral staircases on either side of the fog gate leading to a pool of oil. Setting this oil on fire would spread to the arena and providing light to see the boss better with. Failure to do so would mean that the boss would be harder to spot, and you would easily lose your lock on and your ability to track it.

I decided not to light those torches. I did that because I wanted to give myself an extra challenge since the last fight went disappointingly smoothly, but mostly because getting the key to unlock the doors leading to those oil pools meant that I had to fight a different boss. And that boss is annoying to fight even with a weapon. Without it... eugh. So chalk it up to laziness, but I just went ahead and fought the Lost Sinner with the deck stacked against me.

I'm not kidding. I won't do that fight. No amount of sad faces you post in response to this will get me to change my mind.

To Battle!

If someone can tell me of a way to take a screenshot on the PS3, I'd be very appreciative. I kept trying to take pictures of the boss during to intro to try and find a cool looking shot to put on the top of this article. That intro scene only plays once forever, after all, so I was hoping to get a good, authentic shot of the Sinner before actually fighting it. Unfortunately, I didn't start my timer before starting the fight, so after taking a neat picture at the end of the cutscene, I fumbled with trying to dodge the boss's and starting the timer after closing the camera app. After taking a few hits from the boss, I finally managed to get the timer started. Ready to finally take on the boss, I put my phone down and waiting for her to finish her combo before popping an Estus. The Sinner saw me doing this, though, and decided that this was the time she would rush forward instead of leaping back like she usually does. One bum rush forward, and that greatsword of hers implanted itself right in my butt, killing me.

I have never made any claims to be good at this game, but come on, you don't want me to count that, right? You can give me one Mulligan, right?

...Okay, fine. I'll add it to the total.

Annoyed, I went to my computer to log the time and death method, when suddenly I heard damage noises from the TV! Panicking, I rush back to find enemies that stood next to me at my spawn point filling me with crossbow bolts! I try to get away from them, but couldn't make it time, and I died. From mobs.

If I have to add technical difficulties to the death count, then I guess I have to add BS mob deaths as well. Great. Off to a wonderful start.

Nothing to log this time, so I spawned back and immediately ran past those assholes camping at my spawn point (seriously, From?) and made my way to the Lost Sinner again. Luckily, I made it back with no problem, so the next round begins!

Being another variation of "a dude/chick in armor" boss that DS2 is so fond of, her attacks were rather easy to predict. Doesn't mean I got clipped every now and then by mistiming a dodge, but for the most part, I settled into a decent rhythm and kept going for 1:32 minutes. I botched a dodge roll from her three hit combo and was backing up to heal. However, she paused for a while after the combo, and I thought it would be a good time to take a swig of Estus and restore some health. The Sinner was waiting for that moment, though, and like a tiger pouncing on its prey, she immediately raised her greatsword and skewered my face.

I want to state for the record that it's twice as humiliating actually WRITING about my failures as opposed to showing them in a video. Having to relive and document exactly how I screw up makes my brain go, "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING YOU MORON?!" every time I log a mistake. Seriously, what was I thinking popping an Estus Flask WHEN THE BOSS WAS NOT IN AN ACTUAL ATTACK ANIMATION?! That was just asking for death.

After that brain lapse, I went to record my failure yet again. And yet again, I completely forgot about the enemies that stand right next to the spawn point! So here I was again, rushing back to the controller to save dear Masomonk from getting skewered again. I was frustrated that I let myself fall into that trap yet again, and I was in the mood to take it out on some mobs. So I rush out from behind the corner I was hiding behind... only to be killed with three crossbow bolts at once.

Sometimes I amaze myself with how stupid I am.

I knew that I would continue to be blindsided time and time and time again, so I decided to take a break from the Lost Sinner to clean up these dips before moving on. Dark Souls 2 had an interesting mechanic where, if you kill mobs in each area about ten or so times when they respawn, they will STAY dead for the remainder of the game. A controversial addition, sure, and one that was removed in all future games. Personally, I was fine with it. By the time I got that point, I would be appreciative of having a break. So I continued to kill them over and over again until they stopped respawning. Lucky me.

With that out of the way, I felt encouraged. I had a break from the boss, and so the next time I fight, I'll win. Right? That's how the process goes.

Ha...

Hahahaha...

HAHAHAHAHAHHA!

*sobs*

Oh sure, it STARTED fine. I fell into a nice rhythm and kept a good pace going for about 6:37 minutes. Somehow, however, she ended up parrying and countering me when I wasn't even doing any attacks! Without any kind of warning, no less! This is one of the few moments since I started with the Souls series where I call bullshit on the game rather than my ineptitude as a player. Usually it's the other way around.

What the hell is with locking me into a preanimated finish when I had enough health to keep going? This ain't Skyrim! I don't want to play Skyrim! I want to play something fun!

Well, on the bright side, at least I saw an animation I had NEVER seen before in all my time playing this game. So... worth it?

It's been about thirty minutes at this point, and I was feeling the salt flowing through my bloodstream. Seeing that salt is bad for the human body in such large doses, I knew I had to wrap this up soon. With that in mind, I enter the boss arena yet again.. and died in 36 seconds thanks to a mistimed dodge and desperate attempt to heal instead of PAYING ATTENTION TO THE BOSS I'M FIGHTING. I read one of the Lost Sinner's attacks as a leaping slash, but instead of landing in front of me like she always does, she landed behind me and immediately stabbed my butt, killing me as I was putting away my flask.

Someone sign me up for Estus Recovery program. I have a problem.

Eventually, though, lots of patience and constant focus brought me victory. I panicked a little when I made a couple of blunders that lost me all my Estus early in the fight, but I decided to keep going and see how far I could whittle her health down before slipping up and dying.

Turns out that time was never. After 10 death both in and out of the boss fight, I was in the zone and could predict pretty much any attack she made. It was over in a final 6:03 minute round of endurance.


Rubbing Salt in the Wound:

This is normally the part where I start throwing shade at you as I pop the last remaining tie you have to this world for some extra Souls. God knows you deserve it; it's around the time players face you that we realize that different varations of "a dude in armor" is going to be about 60% of this game's boss fights. Because you're just another sword fighter boss, the only idea From had to give you for extra challenge on New Game + is to throw a couple of extra Black Phantoms at me when your health starts to drop. Can you say "ARTIFICAL DIFFICULTY?"

Honestly, though, I just feel sorry for you. Not because of anything you did in the game, mind you. You were as significant to the plot and storyline as a fly's role in a man dying of old age. No, I feel sorry for you because you were a victim of the developers. You could have had an interesting gimmick with the darkness in your stage. Unfortunately, right before release, From ripped out the amazig lighting engine they had to really add the DARK to Dark Souls. Your boss fight felt like it was designed specifically to take advantage of that engine. Even without the torches, you were still visible from one side of the arena to the other. You love to always leap backwards after finishing a combo (hence the Dancing Queen title I gave her), presumably to conceal yourself in what would be total darkness. But as it is, you are just another boss that has a strange arena gimmick.

I heard the PS4 version adds the awesome lighting engine back, so perhaps your arena actually looks the way it should and fighting you without the torches would be a terrifying experience. But this is the PS3 version and you're about as concealed as a beer can at a frat party.

The Conclusion:

And there you have it. The first of four Great Souls claimed. Looking back through my notes and mentally retracing my actions, it's really hard to justify how I had this much trouble. I suppose hindsight is 20/20, and it's about as fair as berating yourself for betting red after the roulette pill landed on black.

So yeah. I hope this round of suffering made up for the lack of pain with the Ruin Sentinels. Anyway, I'm going back to the starting village to visit the Emerald Herald to put these newly acquired Souls to good use. See you next-



...Oh, I'm sorry. Am I BORING you? Is my pain and suffering NOT INTERESTING TO WATCH?!

If you weren't the person who levels me up, I'd have killed you just for striking that pose. But sure. Enjoy your time here, safe and comfortable in the village while I get raked over the coals. I hate you, I hate you so much.


Death Count:
- Hardcore Acupuncture: 5
- Peanut Gallery: 4
- Parryless Riposte BS: 1

TOTAL DEATHS (this boss): 10
TOTAL DEATHS (all time): 34
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
BOSS 6: MYTHA, THE BANEFUL QUEEN



A.K.A. the Crazy Snake Lady

HP: 3,570 (According to Fextralife Wiki)


I was inflicting about 72 damage per hit.

Mytha is a real piece of work. Wielding a spear with one hand, and her severed head that can cast sorceries, she is not a boss to be taken likely. If Dullahan and a Lamia were to mate, this would be the thing that comes out.

Wow. I'm starting off with a description about two inhuman creatures boinking. We're off to a great start.

Anyway, if her spearwork and sorcery wasn't enough of a threat, Mytha, like the Lost Sinner, has an arena gimmick: she is a poison-affiliated snake, and her entire arena is filled to the brim with the stuff. Due to her aptitude for poison, bathing in it automatically regains her health! Since her arena is covered in poison, you will be constantly losing health while Mytha constantly regains health.

Thankfully, there's a way to beat it. Earlier in the level, you pass right by a windmill. Light the windmill on fire, and the internal workings of Earthen Peak are sabotaged. This means that poison pools all across the level, including the boss arena, will be drained.

Well, mostly.

Mytha's arena still has some poison leftover on the very edges. If you're not smart and/or too aggressive with your assault, then you can accidentally push her into the poison where she regenerates health. If you're REALLY unlucky, then she sometimes won't leave the poison pool and will instead shoot sorcery at you.

I think by now we've established that I am not very smart. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but... it was not a fun time.

Oh yeah, I'm going to try something different with this next write up. Rather than try to go in depth with every move I make, I think it would be easier and more fun to read if I just stuck to a broader level overview of my time with the boss. I'm hoping people who haven't played Dark Souls can still get some enjoyment out of my suffering, so let me know how you like this kind of write up in relation to the previous ones.

To Battle!

I won't bore you with recounting the same old mistakes that I keep making with every boss here. I'm too trigger happy with the Estus, I misjudged how close the boss is to me, and I keep missing dodge timing for really slow attacks. I think those mistakes account for about half of the deaths that I suffered throughout this fight.

Being a spear user, Mytha has an array of attacks that cover a large distance. She can cast a Soul Spear to home in on me from a distance, each one taking roughly a fourth of my health. She can use Soul Shower to launch about 7 Soul Spears at once. Or, if she gets bored and wants to finish me off quickly, she can lunge with her spear across seemingly the entire arena not covered in poison with blinding speed. I guess spear users are good at hitting really fast?

Or maybe she's just into rotting corpses with a glutton for punishment, like Masomonk. Hey, everyone has their fetishes, right? I'm not gonna judge. However, I am left wondering: If Mytha was the result of the, um, "love" between Dullahan and a Lamia, then what would the result be if Mytha and a Hollow like Masomonk... And with that image, I know I'm not going to sleep tonight.

Anyway, it took quite a few tries before I was able to read her attack patterns. Out of all the bosses I've faced so far in this challenge, Mytha has been by far the fastest. I'm the kind of guy that relies a lot on muscle memory, so I can say with confidence that adjusting to Mytha's quicker moves has been incredibly difficult. It really sucks because I know I'm going to have to unlearn this new rhythm as soon as I move on to the next few boss fights. Oh joy.

As I said earlier, I am not a very smart individual. With my damage output being as low as it is (I'm sure a sword would have been dealing damage in the 200-300 range. I forgot to test it), I was desperate to get in as many hits as I could whenever I could. Consequentially, Mytha was always backing away from me as if she was afraid of getting the Hollow cooties. I'm not sure what she has to be afraid of considering she is already a headless snake woman who drinks poison like I drink Estus, but whatever. This led to multiple infuriating moments where she would jump into the poison and start regenerating health while lobbing sorcery at me. I swear she regenerated enough health to fully heal herself at least four times across all my attempts.

Just to give you an idea: During my final run with her, I manage to get her health down to about 10% before she was driven into the poison. Knowing that greedy attacks would lead to my death at such a critical moment in the fight, I chose to withdraw and allow her to get out of the poison in order to finish the battle. Instead of doing that and making my like easier, she decided to stick around in the poison and cast sorcery seven, I kid you not, SEVEN times in a row. From all that time in that life-saving poison (there's a description for poison I bet you've never heard before!), her health went from about 10% to 50%.

Ten percent.... to fifty percent. If Masomonk had tear ducts in his rotting face, I'm sure he would have broken down crying right then.

But eventually, I managed to overcome dear Mytha's poison-filled trial. It took a lot of patience and choking back the tears from watching her health climb higher and higher, but perseverance wins the day.

Rubbing Salt in the Wound:

Mytha's Soul Item description
Mytha was the fairest queen in the land, until something unhinged her. Was it the poison found deep within the earth, or the passion that consumed her heart? The Queen sought the King's affection, even poisoning herself to attain beauty, despite the monstrous consequences.


Mytha, I think we should have a heart-to-heart about what it means to get someone's affection. Look, I don't claim to be a love doctor, but I feel comfortable in stating that there is not a man on this earth, let alone a king, that would willingly take in a headless snake monster filled to the brim with poison. How... exactly did you think this plan of yours was going to work? What kind of affection were you hoping to get from the king? Did you want to be treated like the king's pet? Is that why you became a monster? Why would you want to be treated like a... pet...?

Erm, actually, let's not go down this line of thought.

Besides, you really didn't have it all bad in the Earthen Peak before you turned it into the poison-filled nightmare that it is now. Wasn't the Covets Demon, one of the bosses I stomped in one try, in love with you? His soul item states that he turned into a demon because of unrequited love. It's either you or one of the Desert Sorceresses that the Covetous Demon was in love with, since you were the only women in this level. However, considering that the Desert Sorceresses are just as monstrous as you were before I buried you, I don't think they were the targets of the Demon's affection. So why then, didn't you just settle with that guy? That way, you'd still be human, the Covetous Demon wouldn't have become a nightmarish monster, and the Earthen Peak and the surrounding valley probably wouldn't have become the wasteland that it is now.

Granted, once we know about what kind of wife King Vendrick actually had, I suppose I could understand why you would think this strange plan could have worked. We'll get to that later, though. If we all sought after our perceived model of perfection and refused to make compromises, I can assure you that there would be a lot of lonely men and women on this planet. And monster girls, apparently.

Pro tip: Don't poison yourself and turn into a monster girl to get the affection of someone else. It ain't worth it.


The Conclusion:

Anyone who has played Dark Souls 2 might have noticed that I skipped a couple of bosses on my way here. Well, you will be happy (or sorry, depending on how much you wanted to see me in pain, though if you've made it this far you MUST get off on human suffering to some degree) to know that I actually beat those bosses on my first try. Believe me, I was not expecting that. So, rather than write a whole paragraph or so of what I did, I figure I just skip them and move on.

If I was better at crowd control, I'd say that the arena gimmick was an annoyance at best. However, I still don't think it's very fair to bathe the entire room in poison, ensuring that those playing the game for the first time will almost certainly die. If there was a tiny piece of land untouched by poison, or if there was poison leading INTO the fog gate, then it would have been a better warning flag for players that something was up with the arena. As it is, it's extremely difficult to expect the players to win the fight the first time through, which I find questionable from a game design perspective.

The boss itself was interesting to fight, but that poison on the outer edge just put a big wet blanket on the enjoyment.


Accurate depiction of my mental state

Death Count:
- Slithering Spear: 6
- Tell me a TAIL: 3
- Soul Shower: 1


TOTAL DEATHS (this boss): 10
TOTAL DEATHS (all time): 44
Whee! More Masomonk!
And I like this style as well : ) Sounds like less timer fiddling and that's good~
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
Yeah, I completely forgot about the timer this time around, so I just threw up my hands and said, "screw it!" Turns out it was much more fun to cast away the smaller distractions and focus on the boss as a whole.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
BOSS 7: OLD IRON KING



A.K.A. Old Generic King

HP: 6,070 (According to Fextralife Wiki)


I was doing 56 damage per hit with bare fists. One strike from a slightly upgraded mace did about 296 on a single hit.

I admit I was expecting to fight a different boss before facing off against this guy or else I would have hyped it up a bit more. However, I actually remembered a certain shortcut I could use to skip a boss I THOUGHT I was going to fight and decided to just come straight here. Perhaps when I'm feeling particularly masochistic I might go back and fight him. For now, I wanted to tick the required boss off the list.

Remember how the Lost Sinner was one of those four Great Soul bosses I had to kill for the first half of the game? Well, this is the second one. Don't let his imposing appearance fool you; The Old Iron King is, in my opinion, the worst boss in the entire game. Not because he's so hard, but because he's so EASY! I died a couple of times I seriously question how anyone could have gotten this far into a Souls game and not had any trouble with this guy.

The Old Iron King is generic, uninspiring, and boring in my eyes: A half man, half dragon hulk whose lower body is submerged in lava. When taking the battlefield, he uses his massive strength pound at the land with such ferocity that it even scares himself stiff, as evidence by him not budging an inch afterwards and leaving you with plenty of time to get about five or six hits in before he remembers that pain is something he's supposed to avoid and jumps backwards. To add variety in his arsenal, he also comes with a variety of fire-breathing moves that cover about 90% of the arena. The remaining 10% consists of a clear barricade that you can cower behind in and cry or sip some Estus until it's over.

When your Dark Souls boss is one turtle shell away from becoming Bowser, you might want to rethink a few aspects about the design.

To Battle!

You may have noticed the trend in the last couple of fights that the bosses have some sort of gimmick to their arenas. The Lost Sinner had darkness, and Mytha had poison. While the Old Iron King thankfully doesn't have a gimmick that is almost certain to kill you for the crime of not predicting exactly what the arena was going to look like, the gimmick it does have is obnoxious and stupid. The arena in which you fight the Old Iron King in is really really small, and surrounded on all sides with lava. Fall in the lava, and you immediately die.



This freaking driftwood in stone form counts as the arena for the boss fight. For scale purposes, the Old Iron King is probably about twice this length. With a multitude of fire breathing attacks that cover about 90% of the walkable land, this fight was more annoying than actually challenging or fun.

As if the lack of breathing room wasn't enough of a handicap for the boss, there's something else about this arena that makes me tear my hair out in frustration. Can you see it? It's running right up against the left wall. No? Here then, let me move closer to show you:



Somewhere out in the mystical, far-off lands of Japan, some psychotic designer at FromSoft is raughing their ass off, drinking from the tears of all the unfortunate souls who fell down that hole. And yeah, that someone was me.

Don't laugh at me. Just because I fell for the trap doesn't make it a good trap.

Anyway, the fight ended up being shorter than any other in the series so far. You'd think that, with the massive amount of health he had, this would not be the case. However, the Old Iron King suffers from one of the biggest issues plaguing large scale bosses of this generation: slow, telegraphed attacks with ridiculous amounts of cooldown. For every other boss, I could just manage to squeeze in one or two swiped before needing to back off to avoid the next attack. With the Old Iron King, however, I could throw in five, six, even seven hits if I wanted to! This meant that, despite the low damage, the boss was toppled in about 1:30 minutes.

Rubbing Salt in the Wound:

I'm sorry, Mr. Old Iron King. I'm sorry I was so mean to you. In retrospect, you're actually very very good boss. You, contrary to my initial belief, both add to the Dark Souls experience and provide a great example to use in legit game design discussions! It used to be that I had to go on and on a list a bunch of different aspects about bosses that piss me off and why I think they're terrible design ideas.

Now I don't have to list all of them. I can just point to you and your fight and say, "never do anything you see here."

That is your purpose, Old Iron King. Keep that at the front of your mind while I pop your soul to gain a few extra levels. That's all you are to me now. A few extra levels.

The Conclusion:

I died twice to this fight. For that brilliant display of incompetence alone, I feel like I don't deserve to continue on with this series. But as long as there's more pain to be had, I'll be there!


Death Count:
- Bath time: 1
- Explosive belching: 1

TOTAL DEATHS (this boss): 2
TOTAL DEATHS (all time): 46
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
Ouch. No wonder the Old Iron King is sitting in a pool of lava, considering how hard he just got burned.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
He realized how boring and easy he had become and decided to burn himself.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
BOSS 8: THE ROTTEN

A.K.A. My brain, personified
HP: 7,080 (According to Fextralife Wiki)

I was doing 76 damage per hit with bare fists.

The Rotten is the type of boss that I feel like I should have had no trouble with, but I have died more times than I have on any other boss. I'll tell you right now that most of my deaths were thanks to the stupid environmental hazards. This asswipe litters his arena with flaming oil that takes off about a fourth of my health if I step in it for more than a split second. Thanks to falling into the pools or the THREAT of falling into pools, I kept dodge rolling around the entire battlefield, which more often than not led me to accidentally rolling INTO an oil pit. Lovely.


Just the THREAT of walking into these makes me jump around like a rabbit on a sugar high.

As I write this, I realize that most of these bosses have an arena gimmick. The Dragonrider has an expandable arena, The Lost Sinner had darkness, Mytha had poison, The Old Iron King had lava, and now the Rotten has flaming oil pools. At this point, I can't really fault the bosses anymore because that just seems to be the game's MO, but I can't wait to fight someone that is actually interesting to fight, rather than annoying. I'm sure one will come up eventually, but not right now.

But yeah, enough stalling. Time to deliver the suffering for you lovely readers. Let's face the Rotten, the third out of four Great Soul bosses. I haven't touched this game for half a month thanks to the combination of final exams and The Last Guardian.

I play like it too.


To Battle!

The boss's attacks aren't anything we haven't seen before. He carries a giant cleaver and performs the usual horizontal and vertical slashes. However, the Rotten's attack style can throw you off. He has a slow windup but a blindingly fast swing speed. He has a three hit chop, a long reaching lunge chop, and a horizontal sweep. You have to be able to read his slow windups in order to predict which move he's going to do and dodge according, because dodging in the wrong direction will result in you eating rotted earth. It's SO easy to mistime your dodge and get hit. And boy did I get hit. I got hit a lot.

The next biggest killer for me was his grab attack. Compared to his cleaver swings, the grab attack is a lot slower to execute, throwing your rhythm off very easily. So naturally, being a person who likes to settle into a rhythm when playing games, I got caught nearly every time he used it. Getting hit by the grab results in him hoisting your helpless body above him and wringing you like a bath towel, damaging half of your health. I'm sure it would be less if I was actually allowed to wear armor, but this was the path I chose, and I must stick with it.

However, starting at 50% health, he gains a couple of new attacks revolving dark magic; a sword beam and an AOE body explosion strong enough to take out 3/4 of my health since I don't wear any armor (thanks Kylaila!). So not only is this guy gross and vile, but he's satanic as well. That's a nice recipe for disaster.

The grab attacks and the arena gimmicks led to the msot frustrating boss I've fought since I started this challenge. Despite my death count for this boss being the highest out of everyone so far, I feel it does not accurately represent my mental state.


Take a guess which one of us is having a good time?



Rubbing Salt in the Wound:

I'm getting really tired of fighting bosses that rely on cheap arena traps to enhance the difficulty. I get it: environmental awareness is a thing in Dark Souls, but so far I feel like the Dragonrider's was the only gimmick that felt fair, because you could SEE the effects of the levers changing the arena as you progressed through the stage. Mytha's gimmick was somewhat understandable since the entire level was littered in poison, but you still had no idea that the boss arena was going to be filled with poison until you wandered in and died.

Admittedly, the Rotten's flaming oil pools were shown to us on our way here, and good environmental awareness can make it less of an issue, but it still feels cheap to me. Maybe I'm writing while the butthurt is still strong, but I still think they were just slapped in at the last minute to artificially enhance the difficulty.

It also doesn't make any sense from a consistency level. The pools I mentioned in the level itself evaporate when set on fire after awhile. However, EVERY oil pool in the arena is in fire, and will never dry out. Why is that? Come on, From, where's the consistency? I think it would have been cool to have the oil evaporate after a certain amount of time, or at least when the boss starts using his dark moves, but no. Eternally flaming oil baths it is.


The Conclusion:

This may surprise some of you, but I was actually having fun through this challenge. I enjoyed the suffering, I enjoyed getting grumpy. Not this time. This is the first boss that actually left me miserable. I'm not even feeling witty enough to make dry jokes. I'm actually pissed off.

It just hit me that I only have 4 Estus Flasks uses. I know I'm not even halfway through the game, but I feel like I should have more and 4 swigs of health. Since I'm not using any weapons or armor, I've just been blasting through levels without bothering to explore and find Estus Shards, a choice I now regret. As such, I'm going to look up a guide JUST to see how many Estus Shards I'm missing.

Also, I bit my tougue when I came in to type up my closing thoughts. A moment that I feel encapsulates my time with The Rotten.


NO



Death Count:

Oil Bath: 5
Chop Combo: 3
The Hollow Bathtowel: 2
Pounder: 3
Lunging Chop: 3



TOTAL DEATHS (this boss): 16
TOTAL DEATHS (all time): 62

NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
So even the Monk has a limit where pure masochism just isn't enough any more, I see? Hopefully the next part is going to be more fun and less frustrating for you again.

But holy crap, that boss looks horrible! No wonder you had a bad time. I think this just reminded me again of exactly why I've never tried playing a Dark Souls game. Good thing you're doing it for me.

I was going to make some kind of oil pun, too, but my brain just feels fried right now.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
Deep fried ?
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
You got it.
*hugs you tightly*
Breaktime is in order.

And you are welcome for the clothing <3 (I am mean I know), if it doesn't one-shot you, you are good-to-go is my motto. Tho, if you ever reach the point where that is the case, do put some on. (I stand by that motto, after all)
Maybe.

Seriously tho, have some more hugs!
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
Yay I feel better! Thanks, Kylaila! Time to run around naked some more!
author=Red_Nova
Yay I feel better! Thanks, Kylaila! Time to run around naked some more!


That's my boy! GO MASOMONK!
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7612
BOSS 9: SCORPIONESS NAJKA



A.K.A. The Ultimate Cocktease

HP: 5,741 (According to Wikidot)


I was doing 76 damage per hit with bare fists.

It's been quite a while, hasn't it? I'm so sorry that it took me so long to get the next part finished. However, today (February 25) was a community event "Return to Drangleic," where members of the Souls community would create a new character and return to the game. So now was as good a time as any to get back into it! You'll be happy to know that I pushed forward and completed the next two bosses in the series, so you've got that to look forward to. For now, here's my triumphant return to Dark Souls 2! Here we goooo- *dies*

Thankfully, Scorpioness Najka is a relatively easy (if not frustrating) boss to ease my way back into the game. Her attacks are rather slow, she likes to give me some breathing room thanks to her array of sorceries, and she had this frustrating phase where she burrows underground and starts tunneling through the earth like an earthworm that gave me time to heal and compose myself before resuming the dance.

That being said, this is still Dark Souls, and she is certainly no pushover. Her attacks do heavy damage and have poisoning attributes, her sorceries almost ALWAYS kill me in one hit (though that's because I have no armor on), and failing to pay attention to her position underground can mean almost instant death when she jumps back up. Despite this, she is a good warm up for the inevitable suffering that will ensure in the next boss.

However, Najka hold a certain significance to me, which I'll explain in the last section.


To Battle!


Entering Najka's lair is unlike any other boss you'll see in the game. Upon entering, you are not greeted with a sweeping choir and orchestra normally accompanying the boss room. In fact, the boss herself isn't even fully visible. Instead, you find a sandy crater surrounded with dead trees and ruined buildings. At the deepest part of the crater, in the dead center, stands the torso of a pale woman. The woman stares unblinking at you as you try to make sense of what it is you're seeing.

However, the second you take your first step, she raises her arms and starts firing off Soul Spears, one of the more powerful sorceries in the game, directly at you. In a panic, you roll out of the way and break into a dead run towards this new enemy. Once you reach her, though, her body slips underground, and your attacks strike nothing but air. Seconds later, the woman bursts completely out from under the sand, revealing her true form. Now, the battle can begin proper.

I found this to be an interesting idea, if not a little unnecessary. Every time you die and reenter the room, you have to go through that little commencement ritual. As I come to find out, however, this tactic of slightly annoying me actually plays well into her repertoire of moves designed to frustrate and tease. It doesn't make it fun or interesting, though. It just makes me haaaaaaate her.

Allow me to expand on that previous point. As I explained in the beginning of this writeup, Najka has both short range poisonous attacks and long range sorceries. Combine that with the behavior of burrowing underground for a set period of time, and her approach to battle becomes clear: poison the prey, then back off and let their life slowly drain away. It's a cowardly and frustrating tactic, but one that certainly kept me on edge. Remember: I'm not wearing any armor. No armor mean no poison resistance. If I get hit by two consecutive attacks, I'm poisoned.

On the bright side: my stash of healing items has grown to a respectable size since I started this endeavor. While it's true that I only have about 6 chugs of Estus, I have ample supply of Lifegems. The intent of these Lifegems were to provide you with slowly regenerating health for when you're out of battle, where Estus flasks were meant for a quick, large chunks of healing in the heat of battle. Lifegems were a godsend for this fight, as popping two of them at once countered the DPS of poison. And thanks to Najka's habit of backing off whenever I get poisoned, there were plenty of windows to pop a couple of Lifegems. I imagine my death count would be in the double digits if she continued her assault in close range after poisoning me.

Remember when I said she had an array of sorcery? One of the worst sorceries to plan against is the Homing Soulmass. For the uninitiated, the Homing Soulmass is a spell where the caster creates up to 4 satellites around their heads. When a hostile comes within a certain range, the satellites quickly rocket towards the hostile and explode, inflicting heavy damage. I'm not wearing any armor. No armor means no magic resistance. If I poorly time my dodges, even 2 of those 4 Homing Soulmasses will kill me. Because of her teasing nature, I refer to these freaking things as the Blue Balls attack since they look exactly like little spheres.

Oh, but it gets better. The other sorcery she has up her nonexistent sleeve is the Homing Soul Spear Shower. Remember me describing the Soul Spear to you at the beginning of this section? Well, imagine about 5 of those bastards being launched at once. Doesn't sound like a fun time, huh? Well, it's not. Just like the Homing Soulmasses, just 2 out of the 5 spears are enough to kill me.

OH BUT IT GETS BETTER! Imagine if she set up the Blue Balls attack and THEN went straight into spamming Soul Spear Shower? Since she's not the type for direct confrontation, I had to be the one to approach her target zone, which meant dealing with Soul Showers and Blue Balls at once! A single misstep would spell instant death!

*sigh*

Thankfully, once you master the dodge window for the sorceries, she doesn't have much else up her sleeve to trick you. As long as you keep up to date with the Lifegems, you'll take her out without too much trouble. I managed to beat her in 8 or so minutes after I regained my muscle memory.

Rubbing Salt in the Wound:


Najka's soul description
Najka was born of the misdeeds of an ancient being, a frail soul from the beginning, that soon succumbed to madness.


In this case, I think the ancient being is the lead designer. Like I said at the beginning of this writeup, Najka holds a certain significance to me: During my very first playthrough, there was something strange niggling the back of my mind. Something felt wrong. Something felt off. However, I couldn't quite place my finger on it.

But when I came across Najka, it finally hit me: 60% of Dark Souls 2's bosses are just boring variations of a dude in armor. The other 40% are shameless ripoffs of Dark Souls 1!

Let me show you a picture of a certain boss in Dark Souls 1: Chaos Witch Quelaag:



See the similarities? Granted, it's not as bad as a different boss that I won't do for this playthrough which is a BLATANT copy/paste job, but I still wonder what From was thinking. Quelaag used a fire sword and spat lava, while Najka uses Sorcery and poison. I'm still deciding which one I hate more.

It was at this point that I stopped looking forward to the next boss encounter. Now that I knew the bosses would fall into either a dude in armor or a rehash of DS1, the magic was simply lost on me. I was so hyped since the original Dark Souls all had original and interesting boss fights. Here, it was either one of the two categories with PERHAPS an outlier here and there.

Was I being a whiny, entitled Soul snob that demands absolute originality back then? Yeah I was. Do I know more about game design now and can appreciate the differences between these "ripoffs?" You bet. Will I continue whining like this to vent my frustrations after suffering through this masochistic challenge of killing bosses in a hard game with no weapons?

Damn right, I will.


The Conclusion:


Feels good to get back into the suffering. Sorry about the hiatus, but I'm back and ready for more pain! I didn't leave because of the Rotten, despite how I ended my last entry. I just got wrapped up in a bunch of committments that all took higher priority. I'll work on the writeup for the next boss and have it sometime in the future. I won't give an exact date, but I want to really take my time and get my thoughts as clear as I possibly can.

Because this next boss... This next boss got me mad. Not cynical self-depreciating mad. Not frustration over my own inability to play the game mad. I'm talking about volcanic, blood-boiling, vein-bursting fury that puts everything else I've written to date to shame. I want to make damn sure I convey exactly how this next boss made me feel.

Next up: the final Great Soul boss.



Death Count:

Dual Pincer: 3
Soul Shower: 1
Blue Balls: 1

TOTAL DEATHS (this boss): 5
TOTAL DEATHS (all time): 67

NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
Yay, more monky business! Though I have to admit the recent toxicity of this thread is starting to worry me.

But really, I'm glad to see you can still manage to play some games now and then despite all the other work you have to do. Hopefully you're not stressing yourself out too much.

Since I'm not very knowledgeable on Dark Souls in general, I wondered: Apart from the visual similarities, are Najka's and Quelaag's actual combat mechanics easily comparable as well? As in, did the boss in the first game use the same damage over time plus stalling strategy as well, just with fire instead of poison?
(To be honest, I like to use this kind of strategy myself whenever games allow me to do it.)

I'm a little afraid of what the next episode will bring, but also looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the update!


P.S.:
author=Red_Nova
Not cynical self-depreciating mad.

author=Red_Nova
self-depreciating

I'm not the only one who did that wrong! Hahaa! Yes!
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