Souls-like games are sort of like Hilbert's Hotel by this point. You can't imagine ever needing another one, but then the right game turns up and you realise you've got a bit of room for it after all. Eldest Souls is a game I have room for. It's a pixel-art Souls-alike and all the parts are in place. Muddy environments, moody art and sound, a massive sword on your back and a stamina bar that you have to keep an eye on. All the parts are great. But then I reached the first boss fight and I realised - oh, this may be special.
Reader, I was flattened immediately. So I went back and was flattened again - maybe quicker this time. Then I started to use the recharging dash move to get in and out of danger. Lasted a bit longer but still flattened. Then I went away and sulked.
I came back the next day. And I started to notice things. Hey, the dash move doesn't come from my stamina pool. Hey, this comically large sword I have actually comes with a real bit of range. Hey, the charge attack actually slide me forward in a direction I can pick while it's charging.
I battled on. I kept dying. But each time I made a bit more progress and I felt like I understood things a bit better. I danced in, struck, and danced back again. I learned patterns and discovered I would live longer if I used a lot of the arena's empty space. I slowed down! Man, I slowed down. I looked for chances.
And then I was rewarded with an extra special thingy! Charge the attack and then when you're still buffed from it there's a window where you can press another button and lay on absolutely massive amounts of damage.
Listen, chances are you'll play this game and defeat the boss first time. That's great! But what's interesting to me is that Eldest Souls managed to take someone like me who is terrible at this stuff - it managed to take someone like me and make them want to be better at it. It didn't make things simpler. It just gave me prompts to learn. And a fast reset. That helped too, I'll admit.