I’m a level one gal in a level 12 world, but I’m scraping by. I time my dodges carefully, angling just right to catch the boss as he lunges where I’m no longer standing. Then I jump back, down an estus flask and restore my health, staying a whisker out of reach. But this time I’ve miscalculated. I’m not quite far enough away. The game forces me to watch as my outmatched, under-levelled character meets the business end of an axe in a frustratingly long cinematic sequence. “YOU DIED,” the screen glares. Yeah, I know.
I start again, this time favouring the monster’s unarmed side. And again, attempting an ultimately futile parry/riposte combo. Each time, the screen fades out and I’m met with that message. “YOU DIED.”
Eventually, I start to see those words whenever I shut my eyes. I’m getting dangerously close to going back on the rules I’ve set for myself this playthrough: that I must use the weakest character the game has, and that I’m not allowed to level her up. Ever.
My character, who I call Soul Level One Sally, will remain the mostly pathetic creature in Lothric for the entire game, and I’ll be seeing “YOU DIED” a lot.And...this is supposed to be fun? Relaxation? Don't you have anything else to do?
Before I give in to this temptation to renege, the oven timer dings and I’m freed to tend to a completely different, yet weirdly related task: my latest round of egg-and-dairy-free donuts.Ah. I think I see now.
Why do we do this? It’s fun to find games within games, and the players who undertake these challenges choose to make the games they love not just more difficult but more personal by setting themselves up with extra rules. It might seem counterintuitive, but constraints add to the pleasure – and it’s this philosophy, learned from games, that led me to the ultimate culinary challenge run: veganism.Vegans, folks. Masochists, all...