It has the color of a shrunken oily olive. His real eyes are pinpricks of light on either side of his menacingly wide mouth, and his false eyes wiggle like (breasts?) batteries rolling around a broken flashlight on his scaly head. It’s FromSoftware’s hated but consistent creature, the belching basilisk, which you can find in all three dark souls game and even in the latest role-playing game from video game developer Elden Ring†
I was introduced to the evil spirit of the basilisks during my first dark souls playthrough, which happened when I was a pretty insecure gamer. I have reminisced about this time as people seem to use Elden Ring as a gateway to FromSoftware’s other oeuvre.
When I played my first FromSoftware game (Dark Souls 2), I was inclined to give up at the slightest sign of trouble. A difficult boss? Annoying enemy stacks? No thanks!
But my approach changed when I met the original dark souls† It was complicated and gory, royal but brutal, and it made me pretend I was there Hansel and Gretel by recording two undead cooks trying to chop off my limbs for their lunch break. What more could a girl want?
Although I was in a phase of giving up on a game that I wasn’t immediately ready to start filming no-hit runs, I wanted to stick with dark souls because it made me think pleasantly deeply about why I was brandishing my pixel sword. I started to love it. Then the basilisks came and tested my loyalty.
These creepy creatures hate love. They also have a serious digestive problem I think and should see a gastroenterologist for their stinky belch. But, perhaps surprisingly, I don’t think I would have continued playing successfully dark souls or any other FromSoftware game were it not for their rotten presence. They scared me at first, but they helped me get through the awkwardness of new games and build my faith. They’re a perfect example of how you can use what feels like video game roadblocks to your advantage.
Know your enemy
Before you get inspired in a video game challenge, get yourself well acquainted with it. In this case, basilisks gather in wet catacombs like pimples under your skin, inflating their veiny pink chests and releasing gray clouds of curse that will kill you almost instantly if left in them for too long. In dark soulsbeing cursed means your health pool is cut in half, and you can’t use humanity points to become human, a state that allows players to summon multiplayer help, be invaded and cosmetically look like a person and not a pound of dry flesh. Curse also splatters an ominous looking skull next to your health bar and is generally not ideal.
Basilisks blow nefarious smoke and should be avoided in any FromSoftware game. But I focus on their original dark souls incarnation in particular because, in my opinion, the 50 percent health curse you impose makes them 50 percent more annoying than in other games. That challenge also shaped my character.
Persevere in the face of adversity (they sprayed their juices on me)
Ignore the obvious innuendo here and avoid standing in the cursed fumes of basilisks whenever possible. If your curse-resistant armor set and strategic jabs to their weak bellies aren’t enough, take the opportunity to take a deep breath and try not to lose your mind when you see your health bar being sliced in half. You can remove the cap with a cleaning stone, which you can buy from Scattered NPCs from merchants at exorbitant prices or, in the interest of saving your in-game currency, find some cracked red eye bulbs and trade with the invisible bird players have called Snuggly the Crow†
You can find Snuggly in the Northern Undead Asylum, and you can trade for purifying stones by dropping an orb into its nest, exiting the game, then reloading to pick up the two purifying stones the crow left in return traps. It’s a bit complicated, but it works if you have nowhere else to go.
But more generally, if you reach an area of a video game that makes you feel like you’re not good enough to make it, inhale again, exhale, and then remember that all skills have been acquired. Even if you need time, you can master the skills needed for whatever bond you have.
By the way, this isn’t just me saying “get well.” That sentence often feels like a dismissive way to build the mythology around difficult games and push people away.
Because of “getting better,” when the basilisks first crouched their frog butts over my health bar, I felt frustrated with what I saw as my own inadequacy. dark souls also deliberately punishes you for being cursed, by heavily extracting purifying stones. There was a voice in my head saying that finding a purifying stone wasn’t worth it because I would just be cursed again. “It’s probably best to just quit the game,” I thought.
But I put that voice in a hat box in my closet! I am happy with the opportunities that learning brings. When I gritted my teeth and got both thumbs back on my controller, I realized that being cursed taught me dark soulssquiggling, connected map as I searched for rocks. It forced me to be strategic when choosing paths, as I avoided encountering basilisks, and it encouraged me to show no mercy when I inevitably encountered them. I used these skills for the rest of my dark souls and, especially with strategy and aggression, continue to use them with great success in all FromSoftware games.
They helped me enjoy my gaming troubles. When I made the choice to keep playing, I couldn’t see anymore dark souls’ compounded basilisks as a deterrent and began to see them as playful motivation. They were crafty, but once I figured out how to handle them, I felt more committed and passionate about video games in general.
Wow, that’s a great example of using struggle as a vehicle for self-improvement, and perhaps also a metaphor for humanity collaborating with nature to pursue a common goal: defeating dark souls†
Thank you! I totally agree. I suppose I’ve learned to stick to the gassy basilisks rather than just seeing them as a hindrance. They are a hallmark of FromSoftware’s intentionally challenging gameplay. But if you keep your cool, dark souls basilisks or any other obstacle in a video game will lead you to victory.
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