What are the Souls Series' Most Brutal Moments?

USgamer's resident From Software fanatic checks in with the most punishing parts of this developer's infamous RPGs.

Analysis by Bob Mackey, .

Truth be told, the supposed tough-as-nails nature of the Souls series is mostly an admittedly brilliant PR ploy. Sure, From Software's RPGs definitely pose a real challenge, but they also offer plenty of ways to push through their most difficult moments.

Still, there are those times when the whole "prepare to die" thing feels less like a marketing motto and more like a fact of life. For Souls veterans, these are our war stories--exciting tales of harrowing adventure where we escape death's door by a hair's breadth. Obviously, your mileage may vary; one person's Gaping Dragon is another's Capra Demon--and if you understand what that means, you're reading the right article.

Dark Souls: Those F***ing Anor Londo Archers

Screw Ornstein and Smough--they may make for a tough boss fight, but no duo has given Souls players more trouble than Anor Londo's ordinary set of archers. Of course, it doesn't help that they're perched in the worst possible place: at the end of a long, narrow walkway, with a bottomless drop on both sides. Even if you rush the one on the right, there's still the very likely chance that the other archer will nail you from behind and send you plummeting into oblivion. And when you die, you get to enjoy a long and boring minute of hoofing it back to where you last bit the dust, in the hopes that won't happen again. In the history of Souls, it's hard to think of another instance of so much pain crammed into such a brief encounter.

Demon's Souls: The F***ing Maneater Duo

Demon's Souls features the first instance of what's become a From Software tradition: Dropping a second boss into your lap, right in the middle of an ongoing boss fight. Now, Maneater isn't particularly brutal in terms of Souls bosses, but the environment that contains this fight is an absolute nightmare. Simply put, there's not a whole lot of room to maneuver, and one mistimed dodge can send you off a ledge and back to the last checkpoint--something that's very easy to do once Maneater #2 enters the fray. The good news? If you have 200 arrows and a lot of time, you can plink away at his health through the fog gate and sidestep this boss fight entirely. But is there any honor in that? (That's a trick question--Souls plays dirty, and so should you.)

Dark Souls 2: The Shrine of F***ing Amana

To be fair, Dark Souls 2's Shrine of Amana has a pretty cool gameplay conceit: It emphasizes using cover, seeing as the gauntlet of mages on the path ahead never let up with the projectile attacks. If you're playing a melee-focused build, though, this area can be a real nightmare, since you have to get up close and personal to take down your enemies--leaving you open to attacks from all sides. In a series that typically lets players roll with the play style they prefer, you're pretty much toast in this area unless you have some sort of long-range spell or weapon. Say it with me now: Thanks, Amana.

Demon's Souls: The Valley of F***ing Defilement. The Whole Thing. All of It.

When Demon's Souls veterans heard newcomers to the series grumbling about Dark Souls' Blight Town, they could only laugh. Sure, this area can be pretty tricky, but it also features a "back door" of sorts that lets you skip all the misery and make a beeline right for the boss. This definitely isn't the case with Demon's Souls poison-themed area, and while its introduction isn't so intimidating, the levels that follow are absolutely grueling. The Valley of Defilement tasks players with slogging through a vast sea of poison, offering few safe places--with many of them being occupied by massive trolls who can typically kill characters with just a few attacks. If you've successfully made it through The Valley of Defilement, congrats: You've successfully conquered one of the most frustrating sections of a Souls game.

Dark Souls: The F***ing Bed of Chaos

Dark Souls' Bed of Chaos works as a sort of "puzzle" along the lines of Demon's Soul's Dragon God--this encounter is all about figuring out how to hurt the boss. In theory, this boss fight presents an interesting challenge, but the execution is lacking, to say the least. What seems like a simple task--chop the branches on both sides, then drop in a hole to kill the real enemy--can become sheer torture, mostly because the Bed of Chaos has a penchant for opening up holes in the ground and effortlessly knocking you into them. While you can strategize as much as you want, taking out the Bed of Chaos feels entirely reliant on luck--which really clashes with the spirit of the Souls series.

Bloodborne: Vicar F***ing Amelia

Vicar Amelia can be a huge roadblock to Bloodborne players. Thanks to her location, it's possible to fight Amelia as your second boss, but that's absolutely not recommended. Her variety of powerful attacks and healing abilities may still be tricky later down the road, but if you try to take on this boss the moment you discover her, you might walk away from Bloodborne thinking it's downright impossible. Other bosses may be stronger, or faster, but Amelia presents a huge difficulty spike many players bash their heads against before realizing they can always come back later.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #1 Monkey-Tamer 3 years ago
    Sen's Fortress. When I found the bonfire at the top it was such a relief. If I never found that bonfire I may have never made it through.
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  • Avatar for cwillia111 #2 cwillia111 3 years ago
    The Bed of Chaos = frustration with his cheap scarecrow hand swipes
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  • Avatar for Hojol #3 Hojol 3 years ago
    The F***ing Defiled Chalice Dungeon
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #4 cldmstrsn 3 years ago
    I actually beat vicar Amelia on my second try. I guess it wasn't that stressful because I love to grind in RPG's and was a pretty good level before I tried her again.
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  • Avatar for Voncaster #5 Voncaster 3 years ago
    "While you can strategize as much as you want, taking out the Bed of Chaos feels entirely reliant on luck--which really clashes with the spirit of the Souls series."

    Agree 100%. Bed of Chaos is the nadir of the entire series.

    To this day I prefer Demon's and Dark Souls II over Dark Souls. This is mainly due to my momentum killing run in with Bed of Choas. When I looked up the solution (something I try at all costs to avoid), my reaction was not that makes sense. It was f*** this game. I've been trained to avoid the central area and the solution is run into the central area because now it will crumble away? That is terrible game design.Edited May 2015 by Voncaster
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #6 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    Remove Amelia, put in Rom.

    Also, playing thru Yses makes me realize Bed is a bad Ys boss.Edited May 2015 by SatelliteOfLove
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  • Avatar for Mega_Matt #7 Mega_Matt 3 years ago
    Those dual archers... I died so many times to them. They probably gave me more trouble than anything thing else in the entire series.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #8 chaoticBeat 3 years ago
    Flamelurker. He was so hard I used to just cheese him with poison while I hid and watch his life bar tick down for half an hour.

    I'm sure there's a better way to do with fire resistant armor or something but I used to do it the hard way.
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  • Avatar for ShadowTheSecond #9 ShadowTheSecond 3 years ago

    I missed that stupid bonfire on top of Sen's Fortress on my first time through Dark Souls...certainly made that part much harder as death made me repeat the whole fortress.

    I still think Blight Town is worse than the Valley of Defilement. The former took me far too many tries, while the latter involved no deaths for my Demon's Souls character. Granted, I used the skeleton key to get to Blight Town earlier than I probably should have.
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  • Avatar for MekkaGodzilla #10 MekkaGodzilla 3 years ago
    To me it's freaking Capra Demon in Dark Souls.
    He's in a small room, with 2 undead dogs that rush on you and can stun or bodyblock you in a matter of seconds.
    I’ve played hundreds of hours of Dark Souls, but I still have trouble with this fight on most of my playthroughs, more so than any other boss fight in the game.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #11 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    This is a bit specific, but using a soul level 1 character to fight the Four Kings is a nightmare. Everything else is ok - even Ornstein & Smough or those archers. You can use good technique to get through those, and any other situation. But 4 Kings needs perfect technique (which I don't have!). And it takes bloody ages to get back to them every single time you die.
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #12 Kadrom 3 years ago
    For me the hardest part of Bloodborne was the F***ing Watchdog of the Old Lords in the F***ing defiled chalice dungeon, but since that's optional, I died the most times in the main game to Martyr Logarius. Can't even really explain why I had so much trouble but I had to farm blood vials multiple times before I finally beat him.
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  • Avatar for killias2 #13 killias2 3 years ago
    Honestly, I didn't have much trouble with Vicar Amelia. Blood-Starved Beast was the bane of my existence for a good long while, however.

    In Demon's Souls, yes, f*ck the Valley of Defilement. I mean, f*ck it and all of its offspring (Blight Town, The Gutter, Black Gulch, arguably even Nightmare Frontier), but f*ck it especially. Also those bugs! THOSE FLYING NASTY LITTLE BUGS

    I'm not sure I'd say those are the hardest areas of their respective games, but they were the most frustrating to play through. I get pretty obsessive about thoroughly exploring areas in the Souls games, and exploration is SO painful in those kinds of areas.

    Also not mentioned... Basilisks in Dark Souls 1, especially in the Great Hollow. I went through this area before having the Lordvessel, so curing it meant walking back to the beginning of the game. Needless to say, it was highly frustrating!Edited May 2015 by killias2
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  • Avatar for siamesegiant #14 siamesegiant 3 years ago
    Having been through Dark Soul 1 and 2 before Demon's, I found the first game to be something of a cake walk, Maneaters and Valley of a Defilement and all. The first Dark Souls is where I had most of my problems. Weirdly, I got past the Anor Londo Archers and Bed of Chaos very easily (proof that there is such a thing as beginner's luck), although subsequent playthroughs taught me now rotten they could really be. Where I really banged my head against the wall on that first playthrough was The Gaping Dragon. In hindsight he's really easy, but I must've fought him 20 times before figuring out that he had an easily recognisable pattern.

    I also had a hard time with DS2's The Rotten. I never realised there was a bonfire to the right of the fog door so every run I had to make it past all of those spitting statues, giant snakes and Cthulhu hand monsters, so I was always in bad shape, particularly as this was early in the game for me. I couldn't summon either because my partner generally wouldn't survive the run up either.

    Rom was the only real sticking point in bloodborne for me, though I still haven't finished it, so maybe the last couple of bosses will make my list.
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  • Avatar for pytolk #15 pytolk 3 years ago
    I love that after so long you can still find things about souls games to write about and it's great to read. Testament to how good those games are keep it up!
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