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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Editorial: The Top 10 Worst Souls-Series Bosses, Part 1.

Editorial: The Top 10 Worst
Souls-Series Bosses, Part 1.

So, we've looked at the best boss battles in the Souls games, but for a game that's so heavily reliant on bosses to establish mood, present challenges, and to provide gameplay high points, it's only fair to talk about the worst bosses as well.

As with the last post, this includes all five games: Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls III. This post covers 10-6, and next week we'll do the top five.

10. Laurence, the First Vicar, Bloodborne.

You know, the Cleric Beast was a fine boss. It certainly wasn't Bloodborne's best boss, but it was a solid introduction to the bosses of the series - together, it and Gascoigne set you up for exactly what you could expect from the bosses of Bloodborne, and familiarised you with the mechanics necessarily to deal with them.

I could even, in fact, go for Laurence's schtick, which is that he's a Cleric Beast on fire. It's an interesting twist on an old boss, and there are a bunch of ways they could have spun that in ways that made him stand out. Give him a fire breath, maybe. Have him wield larger-than-life versions of hunter powers like the Augur of Ebrietas, Quickening, Beast Roar, and Blacksky Eye, while maintaining his bestial form. Have him continue to grow and mutate over the course of the battle, becoming steadily more monstrous and less recognisable.

Instead, what the game devs went with was having him tear off his lower legs to crawl around the arena releasing magma from his stump. This sounds a lot cooler than it is, since it essentially involves trading off what made the Cleric Beast interesting - its speed - for making you nearly unable to attack, since you're now completely unable to get near its weak spot without dying, and anywhere else will see you get smashed into little pieces.

9. High Lord Wolnir, Dark Souls III.

I have a special hatred for bosses which are incredibly huge, but whom you only fight the face and arms of. I'm possibly being unreasonable here, since otherwise you'd be hacking at their feet and that's no fun - Skyward Sword, take note - but give me something to feel like I'm actually engaging with this huge creature, and not just hitting a pair of disembodied hands and a head on a floating platform.

Wolnir, who has very little explanation and is basically just a random giant skeleton guy, combines nearly everything I don't like about bosses: Very little story relevance, slow ponderous movements but with sometimes nigh-unavoidable attacks to create a weird combined sense of boredom and frustration, and a tendency to summon mobs to attack you.

He gets points for atmosphere, which is why he's not lower down this list, even though I do really hate hands-and-head bosses.

8. Maneaters, Demon's Souls.

A boss that epitomises the 'anything's scary until you see it' principle, the Maneaters (of which there are initially one, and then two - we'll get to that) will flit about in the shadows, visible only as a vague shape and a pair of green eyes, before eventually swooping into the light and being revealed as ... as ... er.

As a moderately sized brown goblin thing with wings? It's a pretty uninspired design, one that more or less saps any kind of horror out of it, as you've now seen that the shadowy, person-eating foe that you're facing looks like it was drawn by a small child.

The gimmick quickly gets old too, because there's only so long you can really have the patience to wait around for one of the Maneaters to swoop in long enough for you to hit them, which just makes the fact that there are two of them worse. They hardly ever attack at the same time, so it just prolongs the battle as you batter down two identical monsters.

For added ridiculous factor, it's entirely possible to kill the first Maneater without even entering the boss room. You can just shoot it through the doorway.

7. Seath the Scaleless, Dark Souls.

In a series that has built up a reputation for being harsh but always fair, and where death can have pretty big consequences (since not only do you lose all your souls, but in Dark Souls, at least, you hollow - and it's even worse in Dark Souls II, where your hollowing is cumulative), it's almost unacceptable to have a boss battle which is impossible to win on your first try.

The first time you face Seath, he will regenerate all damage done to him endlessly, making him impossible to kill. You can face him again after that, and when you do, you just have to destroy the primordial crystal near him and he becomes almost absurdly easy to kill, being a slow, immobile boss with attacks whose main downside is that they inflict curse (which you can counter with a curse-resistant ring).

The battle gains a point or two for the fact that, if you destroy the primordial crystal then die afterwards, the next time you face him he'll have positioned himself in front of it, but that's just a cool touch that isn't enough to make up for how much of a bad idea this fight was.

6. Graverobber, Varg, and Cerah, Dark Souls II.

It's fair to say that for a lot of people, their least favourite part of Souls games is being invaded. Well, now you too can experience the feeling of being invaded by three people simultaneously, even though I'm not convinced that's even possible, all of them weirdly generic.

It's the complete experience, as they'll use estus flasks, backstab you, and generally just gang up on you in a boss battle which is pretty much the antithesis of fun. Worse, there's really no reason for them to be there. They're just random, hollowed adventurers. 

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