What ‘Dark Souls’ Taught Me About Novel-Writing

It takes tenacity and adaptability to finish a book, and even then, it may not be enough

Pablo Andreu


In-game Dark Souls screenshot via Steam

Life is hard, but so is death, according to the world of Dark Souls, a game infamous for its punishing difficulty. I resisted playing the legendary title for so long because of that menacing reputation, but I’m glad I got around to it. Not only has it made me a better gamer, but it’s also made me a better writer.

Venturing into the Kingdom of Lordran for the first time, I knew I would die a lot, but that’s not what makes the game so challenging. Sure, the combat is tough, but it’s the save mechanic coupled with respawning enemies that makes Dark Souls not just difficult but exhausting. If you’re not a gamer, let me explain:

In some games, you can save your progress at will, meaning that whenever you die in-game, you respawn at the same exact spot as if nothing ever happened. It’s low stakes. Other games, like Alien: Isolation, for instance, utilize save stations, which means you can only save in designated locations. This approach rachets up the tension, since you have more to lose. You grow cautious, loath to jump headlong into a new location, lest you lose the progress you’ve made.