“Dark Souls III,” and its predecessors are not like many other video games today.

Back in the day, games used to be difficult in order to keep people playing. Recently, it seems most games have given up difficulty for lengthening the game’s duration. But the “Dark Souls” trilogy is famous for bucking this trend. The series is applauded not only for its difficulty, but also for its brilliant storytelling, beautiful design and rewarding experiences.  

In case you’re curious about the newest, and allegedly final, entry in the “Dark Souls” series, we’ve prepared a journal outlining the game’s initial moments. For those who wish for a spoiler-free experience with the game, read no further.

Cover courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

I begin my journey as an assassin, favoring lighter weapons that allow me to be more nimble on the battlefield. The game begins in a dark and grey graveyard, and my character pulls himself from his own grave, covered head to toe in ash. After awakening, I see a few messages carved into the ground giving hints on how the controls work — the closest this game gets to a tutorial — and I set off.

As I take my first few steps, I see graves everywhere. There is barely enough room for me to walk between the countless headstones. I come upon my first enemy, and I dispatch him easily enough and continue on, headed for a break in the massive cliffs in front of me. Just before the break in the hills, I see a small corridor to the right, a message inscribed at its feet reading, “Turn Back.” I should have listened. 

I die horribly and wake up back at the beginning. I decide to leave that area alone for now, setting out for the hills once again. Dark Souls does not often explicitly tell you where to go, and you die often, but each time you learn more about the game and it becomes easier to deal with.

After getting through the gap in the cliffs again, I look behind me and see a massive castle rising above. Ahead of me I look to see a large tower in the distance. After sitting at a bonfire to save my game and replenish my health, I set off toward the tower, and dispatch some more enemies, relatively easily along the way.  

After a bit more walking, I arrive in a large arena (a bad sign in a Dark Souls game) with a large figure kneeling in the center (an even worse sign). The figure has a sword protruding from its chest, so I pull it out, hoping he won’t be angry that I disturbed him.

Screenshot courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

To my dismay, he is very angry. He rises and pulls an almost comically large spear from the ground next to him, only to begin pummeling me mercilessly until I fall lifeless to the ground. After a few more times of this, I finally get used to his attack patterns, learning when to roll away and when to attack as he recovers from attacks of his own.  

Painstakingly whittling him down to half health, his upper body explodes into a dragon-like form, clawing me to death in two hits. Lovely. After some more trial and error I finally emerge victorious, sporting the sword I pulled from his chest as a reward. I rest at a newly created bonfire and set out again for the tower.

After a bit more walking and some more enemies, I find myself in the tower, a place known as Firelink Shrine. It turns out that this is the hub-world of the game, a place where my character can rest, buy supplies and level up before heading out into the unknown. I speak to a few people who inhabit the shrine with me, and then set out again for the High Walls of Lothric, the castle I saw earlier, surely to die many more times, but prepared for what is to come nevertheless.