Recommendation: Souls Games


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Bonfire

The Souls games have been a series since the dawn of Demon Souls in 2009. Since then Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2 and its expansions, and Bloodborne have been released (and we eagerly waiting for Dark Souls 3). All with similar gameplay styles, immeasurable amounts of lore, and kill-self levels of frustration. They have become enormously popular in the more recent years, due almost entirely to its die-hard fan base, which have been sustaining the life-blood of the games by promoting them through all social mediums. (Owed entirely to the fact that From Software does little-to-nothing in the area of advertising for themselves.) However, these games don’t have the best reputation as they are described as being “the most difficult games you will evar play!” But still you will find countless forums, websites, lets-plays, and other fandom all over the internet and YouTube dedicated to these games. Why is that? And why should you, or anyone for that matter play a Souls game? Allow me, if I may, to tell you why.

Let us first begin with the lore. In the Souls games, players are not introduced to lore in the traditional sense of being “fed” information. There’s usually just one little monologue at the beginning of each, where some NPC tells you to go complete “the impossible task.” In Dark Souls, it’s ringing the Two Bells of Awakening which are on the opposite ends of the world guarded by massive demons. In Bloodborne, it’s curing the beast-blood disease that pretty much wiped out the population. And that’s all the information you’re going to get. So you have very little information to go on, and are sent aimlessly wandering on a quest that you’re not entirely sure why you are a part of. But you know one thing is for sure: gotta kill stuff! So off you go, cutting down enemies, opening doors, and finding hidden treasures. Then you look at your loot, and realize each piece comes with a paragraph of descriptor-font. Then you realize that every item in the game has their own individual story, which ties in with the main story of the game. Telling you very general (and sometimes cryptic) things about the past, the present, and everything in between. This makes it so that you have to piece the storyline together yourself, make your own inferences about the story, and build the lore in your mind’s-eye. This is exactly how the director envisioned it, because as a boy, he liked reading European novels about knights and dragons, but couldn’t read English well. So he just read what he could, and pieced the story together from there. The Souls games have been constructed on this foundation, and are completely unique in this way.

Now let’s move onto game design and controls. As previously stated, the player is thrusted into a world they know nothing about, and are not truly giving a set direction. From most of the starting locations in the Souls games, you can choose where you want to go first. The player will certainly find that enemies in any of the directions do massive damage to the player, but some die easier than others. So choose the path of least resistance, and begin you journey. Now as a new player, it makes it an easy decision for you in terms of choosing your path. But an experienced player, may want to take a more difficult path first, because the rewards yielded will help them progress through the game more quickly. Nonetheless all of the enemies have a high potential to kill you, if you’re not on-guard for even a second. The skill required to kill just one “regular enemy” becomes exponentially increased when having to kill three of them simultaneously. So players have to really be on-point for the entirety of the play-through. The controls in the games usually allow the player to be very proactive in their attacks and dodging, while still being able to maintain a defense while assessing enemy attack patterns. The Souls games can feel a little slow, in terms of the character’s movements and abilities, but it was designed in this way to make the player’s decision mean that much more. This is because the game auto-saves at every interval, making each decision you make, a final decision.

Speaking of good and bad decision making, let’s discuss the “punishment-high” effect of the Souls games. I believe that it’s one of the most unique aspects of the games, which brings players back for more and more… just like the good little masochists they are. Everything in these games is designed to kill you… from the enemies, to the booby-traps in the environment, to your own miss-steps that send you plunging to your doom. It’s really frustrating. The level up systems in the Souls games are also to blame for player frustration. If you want to level up you need souls/blood/etc., which means killing stuff. So you go out to kill stuff, accumulate a whole bunch of level up juice, and then… die. Well now your level up juice is in a pile where you died, and you have to start from the beginning of the level again, with all of the enemies respawned in your path. If you reach them congrats! If you don’t, they are lost to the void for all eternity. That’s all included with the boss fights along the way. Some of the bosses seem completely unbeatable, and will literally wipe the floor with your corpse, desecrate it, and mock you. The fierce battle the player has to go through just to get to the boss is crazy enough, just to be met with a foe that crushes you mercilessly… but this is all part of the process. The game is difficult, and it makes it difficult for you to complete tasks, but there is no necessity to grind for experience. The secret is to test things out, find enemy weak points, be patient, and learn your foe – in the gaming world this is stated simply as: git gud (get good). There are suitable strategies for every situation, and it is your job to find them.

Now you may be asking, where does the “high” portion of the punishment come into play? Well… after facing all of the adversity, the impossible odds, the countless deaths, and the demining failures, you will ultimately overcome it. You will defeat the boss with sheer determination, and accomplish what was once thought impossible. In that moment of victory, you will feel a high unlike any other. Filled with joy, content, and achievement… and you know that it was all because of you. It was every little decision you made in that battle. It was all the hard work leading up to it. And when that high hits you, man I hope you’re sitting down for it, cause it’s a really big wave. I think that the desire to move forward in the game spawns from this, even after the player is punished relentlessly countless times.

In the end, the Souls games tell beautifully tragic stories, while creating a world around the player that just begs to be explored. All of the levels and areas are connected either physically or figuratively, and the creatures are as enigmatic as the world around them. The characters are sure to make an impact on you, and are undeniably unforgettable (for better or worse). The Souls games are full of wonders, frustration, and excitement, of which no other game I have ever played has been able to match. Why play a Souls game? Because it’s the greatest experience you can have playing a video game, if you appreciate the games for what they are, and especially for what they do to you.

Mortarion – Primarch of the Death Guard


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Mortarion, Lord of Death, the Primarch of the Death Guard, and eventually the Prince of Decay. More than any other Primarch, Mortarion molded his legion to fit his own personal beliefs of how battles should be won. He had an indomitable determination, ever-advancing, even in the face of impossible odds. As Mortarion believed that victory can be justified by any means. Swift, terrifying, and steadfast, he led his Death Guard from world to world, doing what they do best, leaving only death and destruction in their wake. And that was all BEFORE they fell to Chaos! I do believe that this model portrays Mortarion as the deathbringer that he was, before his fall. I don’t really like his stance, and I really wish the model came with a version of his face with a re-breather.

This model also belongs to Kiel, who gave me a chance at this truly difficult task. The base turned out absolutely perfect, especially the piping! The piping was done with a Citadel Brass color, and I just made sure to not apply a perfect coat. Then I used the Citadel technical paints to apply rust and oxidization. The green-goo is actually the Citadel – Nurgles Rot – mixed with Citadel – Dark Angels Green. I painted Mortarion in the same way I painted Calas Typhon in terms of the bone-colored armor. The gold on this model is actually the new Citadel Gold that was released with the Age of Sigmar stuff… no inking necessary. His backpack was done in a similar matter as the piping was. The cape is just a simple splatter effect with a Stippling brush with Citadel – Nulan Oil – and – Agrax Earthshade.

Overall I’m not entirely happy with this one, but everyone tells me it looks great. I think it’s just “the artist’s eye.”

Imperial Fists Showcase


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There’s a funny story behind this squad actually… You see, I have tritanopia, which you may know as blue-yellow colorblindness. But what that means to me is: I can’t see yellow. So you could imagine that painting up some Imperial Fists would be quite the challenge for me, right? Well let me tell you, it was.

A long long time ago one of the GW players (Ben) at my store asked me to paint his Imperial Fist sergeant, and so I did. Ben went on to tell me “the color is off… it’s too brown…” So off I went to paint it again, and this time “Now it’s too orange… that’s not the right color at all.” So I did it one more time, and “well it’s probably the closest your going to get.” And that was the end of that. I hadn’t tried painting an Imperial Fist or any yellow model for that matter since.

Years pass, and and the manager at my store asks me to paint up a squad of Spaces Marines (the new box) for Free Comic Book Day in May 2015, a week before the day. I took a GW player poll as to what I should paint the squad as, and well… you guessed it. Everyone wanted to see some FISTS! So off I went, to conqueror the yellow! Construction took all of 2 hours, and then I primed them black. Yes you read that right, black. After that, it was coat, after coat, after coat of variations of yellows (at least that’s what the paint vials said). I painted this squad in a total of 16-18 hours after priming them, and I think they turned out just fine.

My two favorite parts about these models are the glow effects on the guns, and the VII printed on the knee pads. I hope you all think they look awesome, cause I’m not doing it again.

My Custom Fellblade Variant


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So what do you guys like more: Baneblades, or Fellblades? These moving gun platforms are some of the coolest models in Warhammer universe, which is why this one was particularly fun to build. The whole thing is magnetized, so that I can switch between the two Fellblade variants.

The Fellblade – x1 Twin Linked Fellblade Cannon, x1 Battle Cannon, x4 Twin Linked Lascannons, x1 Twin Linked Heavy Bolter

The Baal Fellblade – x1 Twin Linked Megabolter, x1 Battle Cannon, x3 Twin Linked Assault Cannons, x2 Twin Linked Heavy Flamers

This beautiful transformation could not have been possible, without the sculpts from Blood and Skulls Industries <– Link provided. If you are avid mod’er and want a challenge, I suggest taking a look at some of his stuff. It all doesn’t fit perfectly with the original 40k models, so there is some finagling work needed. This was an incredibly fun project, and I can’t wait until I’m done painting it, so I can show you all the finished product.

Angron – Primarch of the World Eaters


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Let’s talk about Angron. This piece was the first Horus Heresy model released by Forgeworld, and I personally think that no model has yet to beat Angron’s sculpt. Here you can see Angron tearing through loyalist marines of his own legion, literally running to the front lines, with his axes (Gorefather and Gorechild) cutting down anything that stands in his way. Leaping over the bodies of friends and foes alike, driven to an insatiable rage fueled by the Butchers Nails embedded into his skull. I absolutely love everything about this model, and I was very happy to have the chance to paint it.

This one actually belongs to my friend Mike, who let me paint Angron. Most of his body was done with the Tamiya – Gold Leaf – which I mentioned in an earlier post. The red was done in Citadel – Gore Red – and the other metallics were done in other Citadel colors. The base was especially fun to paint! After quickly painting up the marines, I just used a color pallet that paralleled pictures of the Istvann IV Dropsite Massacre that I’ve seen. And the blood effect… you guessed it! Citadel – Blood for the Blood God – which was so befittingly used on Angron, father of Khorne! In fact, I liked painting this model so much, I actually went back at least three or four times to complete other touch ups.

I’m really happy with it Mike, I hope you are too.

Skaven Models Showcase


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Skaven are so much fun to paint! Mostly because I’m just imagining the crazy antics that make them Skaven while I’m painting them… much like the Orks. It helps with painting them, when you incorporate those imaginative aspects into your work.

Snikch was a very cool model, with him tri-wielding poison blades. I painted him first of these three, and I tried to go for a more cartoon-y look, in contrast to how I usually paint. I liked how it turned out, so I went full-out-cartoon-y on the Warpfire Thrower. My favorite part of that model was the barrel… oh yeah, and the little flaming rat. Then I moved onto Ikit Claw, which I painted more like my normal painting style (more realistic). I even modded his warpfire thrower from a Possessed Chaos Marine arm. Turned out pretty good I think.

Thanks again to Mike, for letting me paint more of his Skaven stuff!