I’ve often referred to Souls combat as “the dance.” If you think of encounters as dance between you and your enemies, then it won’t be a stretch to think of Dark Souls Remastered as a rhythm game.
Dark Souls games may be notoriously difficult, but they also tend to be fair, once you figure out the rules. The things you can do to your enemies — even if they sometimes seem cheap — are often the same things that your enemies can do to you. But you have a unique human advantage: You can use your meaty brain to figure out what they’re going to do most of the time.
Teat every combat encounter — from the lowliest Hollow to the Lord of Cinder — like a series of if-then statements. If they do this, then you do that. If he swings his axe, you roll backward. If she spits acid, you block with your shield, then stab. Take your time and pay careful attention to what your foes are doing. Learn their patterns, and you can attack and defend with confidence.
Enemies in Dark Souls Remastered aren’t all that different than the thought process you use in Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. They telegraph their moves before attacking. Learn their patterns, and you’ll learn how to respond. (There’s a reason you can find blindfolded boss fight speed runs on YouTube — there’s a pattern that you can learn and execute on.)
Pay careful attention to enemy animations, and you’ll realize that you can strike while an enemy winds up for a hit, for example. Enemies have tells, and you should plan your response accordingly.
There’s a corollary to this way of thinking about the game, too: You can find success in repetition. Almost without fail, if you use the same strategy against the same enemies in the same areas, you’ll get the same results. Things can always go haywire (and quickly), but keeping a level head and watching what’s happing now to predict what’s about to happen will be a huge benefit.
This comes particularly handy in boss fights, where your ability to stay calm and identify patterns can make the difference between success and failure. That’s easy to say when you’re not under attack from a gigantic undead tooth dragon. Still, bosses tend to have a limited set of moves, and if you pay attention, you can usually tell what’s coming next and roll or block or run away accordingly. Armed with that knowledge, you can plan your reaction moments in advance.