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Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss

23 October 2012
Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss - cover art
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DLC is still a relatively new concept in the world of gaming. It's been around for a couple of gaming generations now and is generated on a consistent basis for most modern video games. I guess there still isn't a concrete purpose for DLC content or at least there isn't a strong consensus for why it exists. Is it to artificially prolong the longevity of a game to keep people playing it? Is it cheaper to produce than a full sequel? Is it to add content to a game as an after thought? All the same, it's not a simple update. DLC still costs money. It's not the price of a full game, but everyone always feels cheapened when they don't get their moneys worth. Great DLC should should expand on the base game while having its own merits. It shouldn't feel tacked on or as if the developers tricked into buying a piece of the full game separately. Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss is definitely not a cheap add on. It's an exceptional portion of the game. Some even say that it makes up for the lackluster second half of this game. I'm not one of these people, but it stands up with some of the best areas, bosses, and lore building from the base game.

To access the DLC content, you have to do a few extra steps in the base game. Off to the side of the Darkroot Basin where you fought the hydra, there is a crystal golem on the water. The only difference between this one and the one's at the base of the area is that this one is orange. Once you defeat it, a woman named Dusk appears thanking you from freeing her from her prison (the orange golem you just defeated if that wasn't clear). She claims to be a princess from a far-off land and from a time long, long ago and she hopes that you will aid her in helping her land. Once that is done, you have to kill a strangely placed crystal golem in the Duke's Archives to acquire an amulet. Once you have that, you go back to the same place in Darkroot Basin and find a strange purple wormhole where Dusk once was. One you approach it, a hand reaches out and pulls you into the wormhole where you are transported to the mysterious land of Oolacile.

Immediately as you warp to Oolacile, you are greeted with a boss. If there is anything that would make a Dark Souls DLC worth your money, it would certainly be the bosses. Fortunately, each boss in this DLC is a grand titan starting with the Santuary Guardian. There are no gimmicks and no artificial gank bosses; only mighty foes that will test your skills to their limits. The Sanctuary Guardian is fast as hell and has an arsenal of skills ranging from long range lightning to short range poisoning. He's quite the challenging foe and a great way for the DLC to begin.

Oolacile is very strange. Places like the Royal Wood feel like something out of a Lewis Carroll novel or from a quirky 1970s progressive rock album. I just feel like Genesis era Peter Gabriel would sing about the disjointed tin men that come at you with pitchforks and hedge clippers. The Royal Wood is also as dense as Darkroot Garden and has an unnatural feel to it. The sun is (literally) setting on Oolacile, but the light isn't reflected on any area of the Royal Wood. It's like an ominous set up to the darkness to come.

When you are playing the base game of Dark Souls, you get the impression that the depleted land of Lordran was once a mighty kingdom. When you explore it, it is obviously past the prime of it's former glory and the game revolves around the premise of you extinguishing Lordran step by step to mercifully put an end to everything. Between the glory-days of Lordran and it's more barren days of decay, there is a time in the middle that isn't explored: the point when everything started to go to shit. It is set in a time that hasn't quite reached the point of layers of inexorable despair stacked on one another. This is time where at least people had a sense of hope that everything will patch itself up nicely. However, Artorias, the hope of this world and the character in the DLC's title, is your next boss.

Remember the giant sword from the Sif fight in the base game? Remember how there was a giant gravestone? Well, it turns out that the gravestone and the sword both belong to the grand knight Artorias. During the time of the DLC, he was a strong, courageous knight who confronted Manus, the father of the abyss and the cause of the darkness surrounding Oolacile. If there's any indication that he failed to stop the abyss, he's skewering an Oolacile citizen with his mammoth of a sword when you encounter him. He is also emitting an oozy, darkish purple glow and roars like a beast when he sees you. Whatever force the abyss is, his presence makes it seem terrifying. Artorias the great warrior is long gone and now you have to put him down. It's not an easy task however. When you fight Artorias, you'll soon learn why everyone relied on him to save them. All of his attacks do a ton of damage and he's as relentless as Gwyn. It's a great fight that will test your patience and reflexes.

You might notice that the progression in AotA is awfully linear compared to the base game. The only exception lies in the one optional boss; Black Dragon Kalameet. You encounter Kalameet once in the Royal Wood as he establishes his gigantic, looming presence. To make him more formidable, the giant Gough gives more insight to his legend and states that even Gwyn never dared to fuck with Kalameet. That's how fearsome he is. Even though all of this is meant to intimidate you, you can fight the legendary black dragon. After all, you want to get your moneys worth out of the DLC, right? Taking him down isn't that simple. Kalameet is so strong that Gough needs to wound him by shooting him out of the sky with a gigantic arrow before you can fight him (which is the coolest moment in the entire game). You then find a route off the beaten path and see Kalameet emerging from the waterfall with a limp. Thank god for Gough because even when he's wounded, Kalameet still proves to be the hardest fight in the game. He's unpredictable, he's fast on the ground and in the air, and his magic is almost as unavoidable as the Four Kings. He also has this move where he lifts you up with some kind of telekinetic power that makes you take double the damage. If he successfully executes this move on you, it's time to restart. It's really something that the only optional boss of the DLC is also the most difficult boss in the entire game. It's almost a test to see which Dark Souls players are the most hardcore; the ones that will put up with the most pain even when they don't have to.

The epicenter of the calamity in Oolacile resides in the Township. The citizens have morphed into what can only be described as emaciated apes that look like someone with trypophobia's worst nightmare. They are a little more deranged and spunky than the pitiable hollow soldiers, so I guess this means that curse that brands them is a relatively new one. Also like the undead soldiers, their strength lies on overwhelming you as a group. The sorcerers are a different story. Their purple magic meteor spell is guaranteed to take out more than 80% of your health if it hits you and I swear to god it sometimes home in on you. The worst part is that these bastards cackle every time they kill you. They are definitely my least favorite part of the DLC. The Township is a long endurance test where you will encounter hoards of both of these enemies at every single corner.

The Chasm of the Abyss caps off the DLC at the bottom of Oolacile. It's another dark area after a tiring slew of dark areas. Unlike those areas, the darkness isn't a negative aspect. The darkness here gives the area a sublimely creepy and ominous feeling. It also helps that this level is short and the only enemies are slow walking shadows (with a few enemies from the Township). At the pits of the Chasm lies Manus, the father of the abyss. Everything about his fight makes you feel trapped. The arena is suspended above total darkness and Manus is so intimidating that it never feels as if you're far away from him enough for comfort. The only indication of how close you are to him are his multiple bulging red eyes. Nevertheless, he is my favorite (solo) boss in the game. As perilous as his fight is, he's very learnable. He is somehow a challenge of your strength and endurance without ever seeming unfair. After vanquishing the scourge of Oolacile, you'd expect the skies to clear up and have a celebration. That is, you'd expect this from any other game that wasn't Dark Souls. Princess Dusk appears on the arena, lying on the ground weeping inconsolably. She is surrounded by nothing but darkness and it seems like even though the menace is gone, it didn't matter at the end of the day. The harrowing doom that surrounds her kingdom cannot be stopped and it's only going to get worse. It's a very devastating scene to end on. It almost makes me feel bad that I can teleport out of here back to the base game.

Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss is practically the best DLC content there is. I'm not speaking in terms of the series, but in terms of DLC content in general. The content provided here is just as solid as anything from the already fantastic base game and it feels totally separated from it all the same. The levels, bosses, and world building are all incredible making this worth every cent. It's almost as if having the DLC is essential for any Dark Souls experience.
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Erockthestrange 2019-09-06T22:08:41Z
2019-09-06T22:08:41Z
4.0
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Dragon Slaying, Knighthood's highest calling
Everyone knows how this was meant to be part of the Base Game but it was cut due to time and budget reason. Everyone knows it has 2 of the Best Boss Fights in the entire series. I don't like rating this as it's own game because it's just a perfect piece of even bigger perfect puzzle.
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StoneColdScrin 2018-09-13T04:05:03Z
2018-09-13T04:05:03Z
5.0
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This is the first official Dark Souls DLC and really is more of an expansion of the core game, I believe this was meant to be included in the core game but they didn't have enough time to include it so tagged it on later as DLC. I actually didn't play it until recently with the addition of it in the Dark Souls Remaster, and quite honestly it was decent. The bosses were good and the areas were a mixed bag. The first area in this DLC is basically a revamped Darkroot Garden with tougher enemies. The later areas include going along the rooftops of buildings and inside a dark building. These areas are a bit annoying because they have tough enemies who hit hard and are fast, and there are annoying mages who shoot dark magic at you and can 2 shot you. I honestly felt they just put way too many enemies grouped together and it felt less fair than the core game. The final area is a dark cave that is sort of like a maze and it takes you to the final boss. Now the bosses are good, Artorias and Kalameet are among the best bosses in the game, while Sanctuary Guardian provides a decent introductory challenge, and Manus is probably the toughest boss in the game and while he's a little annoying and has some attacks that feel cheap, he still adds additional challenge. The DLC isn't very long and can be beaten in around 5 hours maybe a little more if you fully explore and collect all the items, but it still does add to the core game and gives us some of the best bosses in the series. It's a good DLC and it gives you more of the great Dark Souls experience.
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jweber14 2018-05-29T08:38:54Z
2018-05-29T08:38:54Z
4.0
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Some of the best elements of Dark Souls 1, mixed with many of the issues from the original game. The areas themselves feel too reminiscent of areas within the main game, Darkroot Garden, Undead Parish, and Tomb of the Giants respectively, and none of them really bring anything new to the table in terms of visual or aesthetic.

The obvious appeal here is the story of Artorias, a tragedy hinted at throughout the final game, and its unexpected conclusion here, and the bosses, all of which were quite excellent. The Sanctuary Gaurdian may be the best the entire game has to offer, unrelenting and fast, with no obvious easy times to whale on it, and is the perfect way to introduce the more aggressive format of the bosses of Oolacile. The Artorias fight, though overrated by fans, is on first glance stunning, with an incredible soundtrack and one of most interesting and impressive enemy designs I've ever seen. My main gripe with the fight is that he provides a clear and easy time where he charges up to increase his power, and its simply too easy to quickly get 3 or 4 free attacks on him. With enough patience the entire fight can be done this way, which is somewhat disappointing. Also frustrating is the notably long run from the bonfire to the fight, which was the result of many a headache. Still, excellent fight (though heavily improved upon by its counterpart in DS3). Manus continues the theme of aggressive, in your face fights, in one of the most difficult and best in the game, though I won't go too far in detail with it, it's best experienced firsthand. However, the area leading up to Manus is frankly terrible, repeating many of same awkward lack of vision mechanics from one of the worst sections of the main game, Tomb of the Giants, and add in some incredibly high damage ranged opponents, and you've got a notably frustrating area. Simply not fun to get through, redeemed by the boss.

All in all, it's a decent showing but suffers from much of the lack of diversity and unique feeling to each area from the game on a whole, extra disappointing considering they had all the freedom to create an entirely new and unique world in Oolacile, and instead gave more of the same. If I rated this from just the boss fights alone, it would be much higher, but there's plenty of irritation along the way to lower the score drastically.
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_mbrown_ 2017-09-13T02:52:44Z
2017-09-13T02:52:44Z
3.0
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Catalog

UtopiaM Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-23T08:30:41Z
2022-05-23T08:30:41Z
5.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
riksad Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-23T03:55:21Z
2022-05-23T03:55:21Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dannymason_1 Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-23T02:15:31Z
2022-05-23T02:15:31Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
908HOY Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-20T11:09:25Z
2022-05-20T11:09:25Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Desert05Mr Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-20T04:18:52Z
2022-05-20T04:18:52Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Sushio Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-18T13:36:16Z
2022-05-18T13:36:16Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mdct77 Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-18T07:20:13Z
2022-05-18T07:20:13Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
jman777jman Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-17T17:31:28Z
2022-05-17T17:31:28Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Saithawzin Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-13T16:20:23Z
2022-05-13T16:20:23Z
5.0
11
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Thezi Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-13T03:08:31Z
2022-05-13T03:08:31Z
5.0
4
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kauzymdis Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-12T01:55:22Z
2022-05-12T01:55:22Z
5.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kamil21 Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss 2022-05-11T22:50:36Z
2022-05-11T22:50:36Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (28) Loading...
  • Whoa 2022-02-12 16:55:08.903195+00
    For rectifying all the post-Lordvessel fatigue on NG+ runs, my rating of this is inseparable from the base game. Otherwise, DS1 would be my least completed entry in the series.
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  • cryo 2022-02-19 08:31:41.438269+00
    manus is a MASTERPIECE oh my god
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    • ThrashingFairy 2022-03-24 09:22:37.378441+00
      Yeah he's amazing.
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  • cryo 2022-03-02 02:14:23.178681+00
    Manus > artorias > kalameet > guardian
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  • ciemnotaizabobon 2022-03-04 14:29:01.801939+00
    Fun bosses, but I'm finding this hard to rate. It's quite short, detached from the main game, despite the bossed and a huge lore update, but just doesn't kick the same way The Painted World of Ariamis does.
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  • ThrashingFairy 2022-04-09 13:08:46.10233+00
    Areas aren't terrible but they're not that remarkable either.
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  • TheVinnyBoi 2022-04-10 04:24:35.513237+00
    artorias is so badass
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  • TheVinnyBoi 2022-04-10 04:25:30.775723+00
    also I beat manus in like a quarter of the time it took me to beat artorias lol. kinda puzzled how manus is generally seen as the hardest
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  • count_clark 2022-05-16 06:27:01.666827+00
    Some of the best/hardest bosses, boss arenas and area designs in the entire series contained in one little 5-10 hour zone. Perfect vibes. Incredible DLC, goddamn
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