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Dark Souls: Ornstein & Smough RIP

Dark Souls 2 approaches, so VG247's Dave Cook took it upon himself to try and get the original game finished before launch. He hit a two-pronged problem, however.

“F**k Ornstein and Smough, seriously”.

That was my thought process after Dark Souls' most notorious pair of bosses slaughtered me for about the tenth time. Although I grabbed a copy of From Software's opus at launch I put off facing Ornstein and Smough for over a year.

My character was a level 70-something melee class, wearing the Eastern armour set, Pyromancy hand and the Drake's Sword. I genuinely thought I was going to walk all over them the first time I sauntered through that dreadful white fog.

Nope. I got absolutely spanked and received a brutal reality check. I wasn't ready at all, even after all of those hours spent exploiting the Darkroot Garden glitch to level up.

At this point my game clock was sitting at around 40 hours, and the thought of spending more evenings and weekends running around that bastard forest and grinding knights for Titanite Chunks just felt like an impossibility. As Pat often tells us during our shift, “Life's just too short”.

But I love Dark Souls and Demon's Souls too much to abandon my quest. So I decided to consult Wiki guides and YouTube runs of the boss fight. I don't think it's classed as cheating, given how ambiguous Dark Souls is. In fact, I firmly believe that From Software intended for this helpful community to flourish. It's a natural extension of the game, a meta-game in itself.

Did you know how to kindle bonfires with Humanity without seeking advice first?

So off I went, farming Humanity off those pesky rats in the Depths, sprinting the Darkroot glitch ad nauseum and ascending weapons over the course of almost another ten hours. I tried facing Ornstein and Smough intermittently to see if I was ready, and they kept on f**king me over.

The problem – I learned – was that I was trying to take down Smough first, and found myself humiliated by mega-Ornstein each time. I found out that you could glitch him into a never-ending cycle of ranged lightning attacks while returning fire with a bow. I saw it done on YouTube many times, but I never got it to work.

Filtering through the wiki guide I found out that the key to winning the battle was to boost your poise and shield strength, as well as using the Lightning Spear – which I had at that point – and Queelag's Furysword. I didn't have the latter.

I just kept on thinking that ascending weapons in this fashion was going to take weeks. It was insanely intimidating, but I just decided to shut up, sit down and grind it out, and you know what? One you understand how ascension works it's really not that big a deal. It can be quick if you know how.

My point is that I wouldn't have known this had it not been for the player-created wiki guides and YouTube runs, as well as the sheer generosity of my Twitter and Facebook followers who spent a lot of time asking me questions, and racking their brains for a solution to my woe.

I honestly don't think I've been a part of anything like this before. Sure, people can give you pointers, but in Dark Souls it's an active part of the game. The only other games where I've seen this first-hand are Minecraft and Klei's Don't Starve.

It's testament to the fact that gamers aren't all foul-mouthed, trash talking wankers online, as we well know of course. Instead, we often come together for the love of our hobby and to help each other achieve victory, or to collaborate on mods, charity gaming drives and more. We're a powerful, influential group of people when you think about it.

Personally, this is a genuinely refreshing thing to see. Not once was I told sarcastically to 'be better' or to 'stop being s**t' when I asked for advice. My floundering, probably stupid questions were never met with any sort of scorn, and I got locked into many long discussions about the intricacies of Dark Souls.

So now, with 50+ hours on my clock Ornstein and Smough are well behind me, and after grinding apathetically for many hours I ended up battering them after about five minutes. I felt like a colossus, and the feeling of jubilation as I saw mega-Smough fall under Queelag's Furysword is currently unmatched in all my years as a gamer – currently sitting at about 23 years.

I always knew that both Dark Souls and Demon's Souls held this kind of power, and that every victory truly is earned through perseverance, discipline and true grit. But felling those two monsters really knocked me for six.

My only hope is that Dark Souls 2 can deliver the same, tangible feeling of reward and although they've caused gamers a lot of grief since Dark Souls launched, I genuinely hope there's a boss in there as brutal as Ornstein and Smough to really test our resolve and help us grow stronger as a result.

Do you have any lingering memories of your attempts to slay Ornstein and Smough, or tales of perseverance in Dark Souls at large? Share them with us below and let's get chatting.

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Dark Souls

PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Dark Souls II

Video Game

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About the Author
Dave Cook avatar

Dave Cook


Dave worked on VG247 for an extended period manging much of the site's news output. As well as his experience in games media, he writes for comics, and now specializes in books about gaming history.