At Lot Can Happen in 100 Hours

Slate's Michael Thomsen ruminates over Dark Souls and whether it's worth the 100 hours it takes to complete. "You can accomplish a lot in 100 hours....

…You could read War and Peace, for instance, then follow it up with Thus Spoke Zarathustra and a few starter courses in a new language. You could watch Melancholia 40 times and still have time to squeeze in a screening of Shoah. You could also drive from Los Angeles to New York and back again, or complete 20 weeks of training and then run a marathon. Or, if you preferred, you could also play through the video game Dark Souls from start to finish.”

Bonus: An interview with the game’s maker, Hidetaka Miyazaki.

  1. The first article was kinda disjointed. It was for the most part split up into two ideas: “time spent not improving oneself is wasted” and “is Dark Souls worth the time investment?”

    I hear the first point a lot. I’ve played MMOs in the past, and I have characters with playtimes measured by dozens of days. Had I not played MMOs, would I have spent my time more productively? Honestly probably not. I’d just piss time away with a different time waster, and personally I don’t consider it time wasted as long as I’m enjoying myself. Productivity is relative and there are a lot of things people do that they deem productive that I’d consider time wasted.

    For the second point, it really depends on gaming style whether one would enjoy Dark Souls. It is a challenging game, and requires trial and error to overcome obstacles. Some people enjoy hard games, and others don’t. Personally I dislike games that make me feel like I failed for reasons beyond my control. Despite DS being difficult, I rarely felt the game punished me unfairly because I could easily recognize the mistake I made to incur the penalty. Also the way the game incorporates online play is unique and I hope to see more like it in the future.

    The interview was cool. I enjoyed it, though him saying he wasn’t sure they’d make another was disappointing. I hope there are enough people who like this type of game to warrant more of its like.

  2. I miss the days when editorials stated their premise openly rather than framing themselves as a question, only to bury the answer several paragraphs down.

    There is real beauty in Dark Souls. It reveals that life is more suffering than pleasure, more failure than success, and that even the momentary relief of achievement is wiped away by new levels of difficulty. It is also a testament to our persistence in the face of that suffering, and it offers the comfort of a community of other players all stuck in the same hellish quagmire. Those are good qualities. That is art.

    And you can get all of that from the first five hours of Dark Souls. The remaining 90 or so offer nothing but an increasingly nonsensical variation on that experience.

    Or: “This reviewer feels the game isn’t worth playing for a hundred hours.” And I think he does a good job stating why he feels that way — particularly in the paragraph above. It’s also clear that that experience may not hold true for other people. Some people may not like the first five hours! And some folks will find more pleasure and edification in playing Dark Souls for a hundred hours than they would working through old novels. Life is a sufficiently broad and wonderful thing that we can all spend our time doing different things and that is perfectly okay.

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