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Twitch can't play Dark Souls

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Three days into the experiment that is Twitch Plays Dark Souls, the Twitch community's attempt to play Dark Souls via chat input, we have an answer to the channel's own question, "Can Twitch play Dark Souls?" The answer is, unfortunately, "No."

After more than 90 hours of play, the people playing From Software's Dark Souls through a series of text-based commands find themselves still stuck in the game's starting area, the Undead Asylum. They've encountered massive hurdles: climbing a ladder, escaping the shallow pool, finding their way out of the corner of a room. One of the biggest challenges to date? Scaling a set of stairs and unlocking a door to the first boss encounter. Twitch Plays Dark Souls seems, so far, unable to make that sequence of events happen.

Twitch Plays Dark Souls has somehow managed to defeat some of the lower-level enemies that inhabit the Undead Asylum. They've also managed to break their one good weapon, the mace, by smashing it against walls repeatedly.

The creator of Twitch Plays Dark Souls has made attempts to make playing the game through Twitch chat slightly more manageable. The creator has added democracy and anarchy options, a la Twitch Plays Pokémon; those options let players vote on an input as group before the stream accepts it or fire off commands that will be interpreted one by one, for added chaos.

Players can also vote on whether they'd like to make the character walk forward automatically or take discrete steps. And after temporarily banning access to the game's menu — players managed to exit the current game and take control of another character save this weekend before the creator stepped in — players now get to vote whether menu access is banned or not.

Those additions haven't helped much. Progress continues to be difficult, made even more so by the fact that if players reach the first boss, the Asylum Demon, they'll be unlikely to defeat it with the one weapon at their disposal: the pathetic sword hilt.

Currently, some 2,200 players are attempting to brute force Dark Souls through Twitch. That's down from a high of more than 5,000 concurrent viewers this weekend. We'll be keeping an eye on their progress. Even if they don't manage to progress beyond the game's starting area, they're at least role-playing as an insane hollow in the Undead Asylum pretty accurately.

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