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     Demon's Souls 
  • Although not quite as labyrinthine in its requirements, its predecessor Demon's Souls also had issues with this — to the point that the US release actually came with the strategy guide simply to explain its mechanics. In fact, this trope's prevalence has resulted in some people who read the included guide not finding the game nearly as "hard" as everyone claims it is.
    • Demon's Souls contains one of the worst examples, though. Remember those NPCs you find in the various zones? Remember how you rescue them and they become part of the hub area, often becoming useful vendors and the like? Well, the joke's on you if you do this with Yurt. Then keep progressing after he appears in the hub (which is not initially after you rescue him, but after you beat a specific boss). Then fail to notice that the other NPCs in the hub are turning up dead one by one. Then don't realise it's Yurt who's killing them! Granted, he does tell you his mission is to eliminate everyone.. *if* you find him and talk to him in the obscure place he's hiding at in the hub. Without a guide you may lose even the vendors before you realise where he is and that you must kill him.
    • The World Tendency system is complicated and confusing even with a guide. This is doubly annoying because it automatically changes the difficulty of the game based on player actions - and certain items can only be gotten in certain Tendencies. Certain events can also only occur in certain Tendencies as well. No surprise that it's the most hated feature of the game and was scrapped for future games.
    • Going along with World Tendency, there are several visible side areas that can't be accessed and Non Player Characters with side quests that can't be completed without the right Tendency, and there's no indication that you won't be able to do these things in the normal course of gameplay. Probably the most notorious example is Lord Rydell in the Tower of Latria. You find him in his cell easily and you're given a definite clue as to where the key to his cell is, so you just need to find it, right? Wrong. You need to get Pure White World tendency for World 3 and then locate the key in World 3-2. It doesn't help that keys to cells and floors are all over the Tower of Latria and the clue you get can easily be interpreted as hinting that one of the Fat Officials in Worlds 1 or 2 is holding the key. The Internet is still rife with gamers demanding to know how they can save Lord Rydell after they've wasted hours trying to find the key.
     Dark Souls 
  • It's not for nothing that common advice to new players is to read a guide during their first playthrough; there are so many hidden items, weapons, and characters that can only be encountered under strict circumstances that most players will never ever find them unless they look at one. New players often get stuck in the FIRST AREA past the tutorial, missing the correct route completely and instead dying repeatedly trying to follow the more obvious paths into late-game areas. Quests involving NPCs are also particularly tough, as they typically require talking to the NPC numerous times in different locations, often requiring backtracking, with no in game clues as to where they might go.
    • Saving Solaire in Lost Izalith is incredibly tough to do without help. When the game first came out, many thought that he was meant to die as a part of the story. Turns out, he can be saved and join the player in the final battle if they reveal a hidden wall, join a covenant with a nearby NPC, level that covenant to a certain amount (which will take many hours), and take a shortcut into Lost Izalith containing nine enemies, of which one special one must be killed. If these steps are taken, he will be spared.
      • It should be mentioned that the game in no way tells you that leveling up a covenant is the way to open the door, only saying it is "locked by some contraption" which usually means a switch.
      • Worse yet is that you can easily open that shortcut from the other side (where you find Solaire and have to kill him), whether you're in the covenant or not, which might make some players think that it may simply be a Door to Before that can only be opened from that side.
      • You can actually save him without opening the door at all, but it is the realm of another trope altogether. All you need to know is that the Chaos Bug carrying the Event Flag is right behind said door. Grab the Poison Mist pyromancy, and you can exploit the game's myriad clipping issues by barfing on the door until you see a life bar ticking down. One sunbro rescued, and you saved a ton of humanity.
    • In a similar vein to Solaire, there are 4 outcomes to Siegmeyer of Catarina's story, and which one you get depends on whether you've met and helped his daughter and how much health he has after his fight with the Chaos eaters in Lost Izalith. Simply finding all of his events requires talking to him each time and some back tracking to Blighttown so it can be very easy to miss out on either a ring or titanite slab.
    • There are also several levels that are extremely hard to find. The Great Hollow and Ash Lake are only accessible behind an illusory wall (which is behind a treasure chest, which is behind another illusory wall) in a remote corner of the poisonous Blighttown swamp, in an already fairly well-hidden room containing a rare item. The Undead Asylum can be returned to by jumping off the elevator linking Firelink Shrine and the Undead Parish, (and curling into a ball in a nest and waiting for 30 seconds) and contains several very useful items, including a key to another secret level later in the game and an item that makes Blighttown infinitely more tolerable.
      • Worse still neither the Great Hollow nor Ash Lake are mentioned by anyone in the game. The only hint you have at their existence as that you can glimpse the Ash Lake from the Tomb of the Giants, when on the other side of the tomb you can see Lost Izalith, hinting that the entrances to the two are nearby. Trying to find the hidden area in the swamps of Blighttown is nigh impossible without help
    • If you're not playing a physical copy of the game, you are likely to miss some items which require jumping, because the game never tells you that you CAN jump.
    • Want to get in on some hot PVP action with the Darkwraiths? Well, then, go get the Lordvessel. Oh, you did what the game said to do and visited Frampt with it? Too bad; the Darkwraith covenant and all its assorted benefits are now lost forever.
      • Want to join the Gravelord Servant covenant and get in on that griefer action? You have to have an Eye of Death on you and go lie down in a specific coffin in the catacombs and wait for 30 seconds without doing anything. Then you need to have an Eye of Death for every world you want to curse, and aside from a handful of preset ones the only way to get them is a very rare drop from killing Basilisks. Oh and if you've killed Nito, which you have to as part of the story, then the covenant is locked until your next play through
    • After you kill Lautrec and recover Anastasia's Fire Keeper Soul, you can use it on her cell to revive her, which will relight the Firelink Shrine bonfire. However, if you use it to reinforce your Estus Flasks, then the Firelink Shrine bonfire cannot be relit in this playthrough.
    • If you hit an NPC, they will become hostile to you, seemingly permanently. As you can imagine, this will absolutely cripple your game if you hurt a vital merchant or a blacksmith. The only way to make hostile characters neutral to you again is to visit Oswald of Carim (who is located in an early game boss room) and use the 'Absolve Sin' option (which is expensive and gets even more costly as you level up). And if you anger or kill Oswald, you're just screwed for that playthrough.
    • A pure sorcerer build may have a harder time of it if they don't know that leveling up the Dexterity stat decreases spell casting time. Too bad the game-even the stat explanation screen-doesn't tell you that.
    • The tail weapons are some very handy and useful ones but the games makes no hint as to the fact that the dragon based bosses and mini-bosses can have their tails cut off (with one weapon being found in the aforementioned Ash Lake on a friendly NPC, and finding one of the other bosses is an achievement in and of itself) but it can be very hard to cut off their tail before they kill you or you kill them. Even worse some of them have insane stat requirements that make all that hard work for naught.
    • You can prevent Mimic Chests from attacking you when you try to open them if you throw a Lloyd's Talisman at them. There is literally no indication that this is possible in the game.
    • It's possible to kill the reassembling skeletons in the Catacombs without killing the sorcerers first by using Divine weapons. The first blacksmith will hint at this, but the only NPC who'll explicitly tell you about Divine weapons being able to stop the skeletons from regenerating is hiding beneath an aqueduct that you need to jump over a bottomless pit to reach. He only shows up there after you kill two specific bosses, and won't give you the clue unless you also buy some of his merchandise.
    • Also in New Londo Ruins, the only way to traverse the Abyss and fight the Four Kings without immediately dying is wearing a specific ring, which is obtained by defeating a boss from a location which was entirely optional until to that point - and you receive no hint that the ring exists until you receive it. The only clue to this is that some Non Player Characters mention that Artorias is the only person known to have traversed the Abyss, and suggest that you try to find him if you wish to do the same.
    • Picking the Master Key as your starting gift allows you to skip all of Lower Undead Burg (including the Capra Demon), all of the Depths, and most of Blighttown by going through a shortcut in the Valley of Drakes. This can be helpful to people who get stuck or dislike those areas (although you miss gear and souls if you take it).
    • Is the poisonous swamp that impedes your movements at lower Blighttown causing the boulder-throwing ogres to kill you faster than you can react, or is the tar in Sen's Fortress the only thing stopping a what would-be successful escape from the Titanite Demons in the basement? Fortunately for you, a ring exists that can solve all those problems and lets you move through liquids/sticky surfaces unimpeded! All you needed to do is get past a locked door behind a Black Knight and a few Torch Hollows way back in the first area in the game that you can get to by doing some parkour off of an elevator onto some ruins and pretending to be an egg at the giant raven's nest for about half a minute. To the game's credit, the latter is at least hinted at by the Crestfallen Warrior, and the needed key is right by said ruins. And take care to not step in the area around the steps near the big door that you fought the first boss by, otherwise prepare to face a brutal Bonus Boss that will most likely one shot you at your current level!
      • It's probably worth noting here that most of the notorious difficulty of Blighttown is entirely because of this trope. Getting the Rusted Iron Ring, using the Master Key shortcut, and knowing to buy Poison Moss Clumps beforehand makes the level considerably easier than it would be normally (although it's still pretty challenging regardless), so someone who uses all of these things might not find the area very difficult.
    • Accessing the DLC is a massive pain. In Darkroot Basin, after defeating the Hydra, you have to run around the left side of the lake, past the waterfall and round the cliff, where you'll find the golden golem holding Dusk (and the golem itself will often not spawn until you reload the area, either by resting at a bonfire or simply quitting and reloading). However only a small part of the water is shallow, with the rest leading to instant death. It's not immediately clear that you can even pass beyond the cliff without dying, and most players would have no reason to even try. To make matters more complicated, defeating a specific enemy in the Duke's Archives (a much later area) will cause it to drop a broken pendant. The pendant does nothing, and your only clue is a brief description stating it's from Oolacile, but when you return to Darkroot Basin, Dusk is gone, so you can't ask her about it. You have to return to where you first rescued her, where you'll find the portal that finally allows you enter the DLC area. This was so unintuitive and confusing even to fans that it's probably the reason why both the sequels and Bloodborne made their respective DLCs rather easy to find.
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     Dark Souls II 
  • Continuing the series tradition, the sequel Dark Souls II has plenty of examples as well.
    • The game in general gets a little less inclined to point you in the direction to progress through the story until the later stages of the game. It's also VERY easy to miss the Emerald Herald entirely in your first several hours of gameplay, which means no estus flask and no leveling up. This also leaves you with the expensive and limited-quantity lifegems as your only healing method.
    • Throughout the game world you can come across three different kinds of locked doors: 1) A door that says "Does not open from this side", 2) A door that says "It's locked", and 3) A door that says "Locked". #1 is pretty self-explanatory. However, there is a BIG difference between #2 and #3. When a door says "It's locked", it means you just need to find the key to open that door. When it says "Locked", however, you have to find some other way to get past the door, because there is no key for it. Examples include, but are not limited to:
      • Leading an ogre to a wooden double doors that is heavily secured by chains, then standing right next to the doors and have the ogre smash them by letting it attack you.
      • A huge stone door somewhere in a dungeon that only opens when you are Hollow. This is the only way to open this door, as there is no other way to open it if you are Human. This then, requires you to die, get killed, or be afflicted with Curse. Enjoy.
      • A door which only opens once you have defeated King Vendrick.
    • Turns out that there are two ways to open "illusory walls." You can either hit them with your weapon or use an unprompted press of you interact button. The tricky part is that attacking the wall only works on walls revealed by Pharros Lockstones, and pressing the interact button only works on "normal" illusory walls. It doesn't help that there are still walls that can be opened by hitting them just like in Dark Souls.
    • There are two rings that can be earned by beating the game: the Illusory Ring of the Exalted and the Illusory Ring of a Conqueror, which turn the weapon in your right and left hands invisible respectively. The catch? The Conqueror's Ring is obtained by beating the game without dying at all. The Exalted's Ring is obtained by beating the game without resting at a bonfire. Good luck.
    • Getting the Pickaxe. You have to lead one of the undead pigs from the army camp at the top of Brightstone Cove Tseldora all the way to the Duke's mansion at the bottom where you fight Freja, where it will dig up the Pickaxe for you. Video here.
    • Did you notice that the Throne Watcher and Throne Defender and Nashandra (and in Scholar of the First Sin Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin) share a boss arena? Well, if you kill the Giant Lord before the Watcher/Defender and then beat them, then Nashandra literally enters the arena through the fog gate and begins the final boss fight(s) immediately, with no break after Watcher/Defender at all. This is why most people take a detour to get rid of Watcher/Defender first.
    • Getting the treasures that are on the lava islands in the Iron Keep can be tricky since there is no item that makes it safe to run on lava like the Orange Charred Ring in the first game. It's surprisingly easy to get them once you realize that the seemingly useless jars of water and the pools created by the Pharros Lockstone Faces temporarily double your fire resistance. Just get your fire resistance as high as possible with the proper gear and Flash Sweat, roll into the jars and/or roll around in a pool and you're good to go.
    • An entire branch of areas (usually necessary for progression save for Sequence Breaking) can only be accessed by exhausting a certain merchant's dialogue (said merchant only shows up after defeating a certain boss), at which point she moves to another location you probably no longer pass through due to warping between visited bonfires. Then you'll have the option to open up this new path at the cost of 2000 souls.
    • The Sanctum Knights in the Crown of the Sunken King DLC are ethereal ghosts that are invincible to physical attack until you find and kill their corpses - which don't look anything like corpses (they look like statues) and are often well off the beaten path.
    • One boss in the game has poisonous water flooding her arena, which poisons you while healing her. There is a way to reduce the amount of poison in the arena to make the fight much more manageable: you have to set fire to the gigantic windmill you climbed past earlier in the level, which is powering the machinery. There is no indication of any kind that this is even possible (other than messages left by other players on the ground... which most players are skeptical of due to Trolls). This was addressed in the Scholar of the First Sin update: if you summon an NPC to help you through the level, she will stop and repeatedly point at the windmill, indicating that there is something important about it.
      • Even if you deduced that you had to stop the windmill from turning, most people wouldn't work out that it needed to be set on fire, because the only section of the windmill's mechanism you can even get close to- and the part you are actually meant to burn- is clearly made of metal.
    • The main game's Bonus Dungeon, the Dark Chasm of Old. How do you reach it, you ask? Well, first find Darkdiver Grandahl near the three stone circles. One is reasonably easy to find, but one of them can only be found by making a blind drop off a cliff and opening a door locked with a rather well-hidden key, and another one is hidden down a hole in the back of a dark room filled with very nasty enemies in a late-game dungeon. So you find him three times, and he offers to let you join the Pilgrims of Dark and access the Dark Chasm of Old. To complete the Dark Chasm, you have to go through, kill off all the Black Phantom enemies, light the brazier you find, and leap down the hole you find at the end of the chasm. Do this at all three portals (because you know each portal takes you to a different region of the Dark, right?), and you can finally fight the Bonus Boss at the bottom of the chasm.
    • The Ashen Idols in Crown of the Old Iron King can be a complete pain without a guide. These are basically living statues scattered throughout the dungeon that you would very much want to destroy as soon as possible, because they spam pyromancy spells when you get close to them and revive nearby fallen enemies that you just killed. Right from the start of the dungeon, on the way to the first bonfire you can pick up an item that is the only thing that can destroy the statues; simply swinging your weapons at them won't work. However these items are consumables, and that pickup will net you 6 of those. One of those statues is found immediately near the first bonfire. If you haven't explored the dungeon thoroughly enough, the moment you decide to go to Raime the Fume Knight's boss area you would have already come across 4-5 more of the statues, meaning you just ran out of the item needed to destroy them if you did destroy all of them along the way. You get there only to find out that there are four more which are alarmingly close to each other. If you decide to go straight to the boss fight, well good luck to you, then - the statues will heal the boss (and it's not an easy one), meaning any damage you deal will be immediately useless. Time to explore the dungeon to find some more of those items for the statues, then!
      • To make things even worse, Smelter Wedges are in very limited supply. If you've killed off every idol in the dungeon up to this point, then you will be one wedge short for the final four around the boss arena. Where do you get the final Smelter Wedge? It's a reward from the fight against Sir Alonne, who is only reachable after you've beaten the boss surrounded by healing idols.
    • The Soul Memory system is a gigantic Guide Dang It and Scrappy Mechanic rolled up into one. Soul Memory is a tally of every soul you've ever picked up, whether you've spent it wisely, poorly or lost it due to mistakes. Depending on your Soul Memory, players are placed into "brackets" for online play in order to group them with similar players. This means that highly proficient players who are experienced with the game, and spent their souls carefully would be on the same level as inexperienced players who were experimenting on how to spend souls and/or may have lost chunks of their soul-value to tactical mistakes. In addition, simply by doing too well or too poorly, players can unknowingly lock themselves out of PVP or coop play with other players simply because their Soul Memory isn't in the right brackets to play with other people in their area. Scholar of the First Sin mitigated this mechanic somewhat with the Agape Ring, which makes you unable to earn souls while wearing it, thus allowing you to keep your Soul Memory where you want it.
     Dark Souls III 
  • Dark Souls III is better about this trope than the other games in the series (as Hidetaka Miyazaki wanted to make it less obtuse); it does explain many of its important mechanics this time around, and the only well-hidden things are optional rewards/secrets. However, it still has its confusing moments.
    • Joining the Mound-Makers covenant. Near a set of houses, located to the right of the second bonfire, where you can walk on the roofs of there is a large enemy with a cage on his back, much like enemies you have been killing already in the area. You have to approach this cage from behind and activate it, which will initiate a cutscene where your character goes inside the cage and the enemy takes you to the NPC where you can accept the Mound-Maker covenant. The only thing that hints that you can do this is a caged NPC, which also looks like an enemy you have been killing throughout the area, behind the aforementioned house who offers a cryptic hint.
      • To put this even further in perspective, the cage-carrying NPC is one of the most dangerous enemy types in the region, so you've been trained to get the first shot in whenever you can, while the caged NPC is an enemy that normally poses as scenery objects, so you've been trained to avoid that object. Appropriately enough, the covenant's entire shtick is being completely insane.
      • Lastly, if you don't join the covenant before fighting the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, then you're locked out of it completely, since halfway through the fight, the Greatwood will break the floor of the boss arena, and you will fall down into the covenant area, killing the NPC in question. You have one more chance to get the covenant during Sirris's questline, but if you've pissed her off by joining Rosaria's Fingers, then you can't get it that way either.
    • If left to their own devices, Leonhard will kill Rosaria, requiring you to defeat him to recover her soul.
      • Speaking of Rosaria, joining the Rosaria's Fingers covenant immediately locks you out of one character's quest line. What makes this particularly egregious is that the covenant is also the only way to respec your character. This eventually got patched so that you won't be locked out of the questline unless you equip the covenant, or deepen your allegiance to it, allowing you to respec or change appearance without any consequences.
    • Those skeleton balls constantly along the halls (and up staircases, somehow) are controlled by the seemingly non-hostile and cowardly skeletons wearing distinctive mage hats. There is no indication that one has anything to do with the other.
    • Curing your Dark Sigil, either out of curiosity or thinking that it will slow or halt your Hollowing? Great job, you just locked yourself out from the third, secret ending. Also, it does not reverse the Hollowing, it simply halts its progression (although there are ways to reverse Hollowing).
    • Finding Yorshka and joining the Darkmoon covenant requires you to activate the spinning stair platform right before going into Anor Londo, then going to the bottom of the stairs and walking off onto an invisible pathway to the nearby tower. The only even remote hint to this is that there is a very hard-to-spot bonfire on the balcony.
    • The mechanics of Yoel giving you free levels and upgrading the Dark Sigil are counterintuitive; as opposed to avoiding death like the series has taught from day one, Yoel will only be able to give you another one for every two deaths the player has. He will also die of his own accord if you defeat the Abyss Watchers. If you don't know this, you get locked out of the questline that follows his, just for not dying as much in the early game as you're expected to.
    • Similar to the Lloyds Talisman trick in the first game, using an Undead Hunter Charm on mimic chests allows you to open them safely.
    • Greirat's questline. At certain points, you can send Greirat out to pillage, and when he returns to Firelink, he'll have new items in stock for you. The first time he comes back without incident. The second time, in Irithyll, he gets caught by some enemies and needs to be rescued. Oh, but you can't rescue him: an NPC has to. Specifically, either Siegward or Patches, depending on how far along their questlines you are. Siegward will only do it if you have bought his armour set from Patches and returned it to him (finding where he is a minor Guide Dang It on its own since he's somewhere the player has before and has no reason to go back to), then spoken to him in the kitchen above the sewers in Irithyll. Also, if you go into Irithyll Dungeon at all after returning the armour, Siegward will move there as per his questline, and can no longer save Greirat. Patches can only be sent to save Greirat if you have not bought any of Siegward's armour from him (since he uses it as disguise to avoid being seen doing something nice). The third time, in Lothric Castle, Greirat is guaranteed to die. You can send Patches after him again, but he still can't be saved. Fortunately, if Greirat is killed, his stuff isn't lost forever. If you find his corpse, you can collect his ashes and give them to the Shrine Handmaiden so that she will sell his wares.
    • Defeating Yhorm the Giant is an almost impossible task, especially if your character is a melee fighter, unless you know the trick. The game doesn't exactly make it easy to figure this trick on your own. You have to get the Storm Ruler weapon, which is inside the same boss room as Yhorm, and you need to figure out that you need to use its ability against Yhorm's head. There's a vague hint on this... inside this same room, which is very hard to read because the giant is constantly attacking you. What makes this worse is that Yhorm is not an optional boss.
    • Finding the Purging Monument in the Ringed City can be a real hair-puller. The monument is easily visible from the main path through the level, but actually getting to it is another matter. The answer lies at a wall which bears the inscription "Show your humanity". What do you have to do here? You have to go down into the nearby Abyssal Swamp, use either a Young Branch or the Chameleon spell to transform into a Humanity sprite (which may take multiple branches/casts), and then come back in that form, which reveals a hidden ladder that leads to the Purging Monument. Good luck figuring that out on your own. Even the quite knowledgeable VaatiVidya took somewhere around ten hours to solve this puzzle.
    • The Souls developers seem to have developed a sense of self-awareness about their fondness for this trope, as the Ringed City contains a hidden Miracle that is behind three consecutive Illusory Walls, and there is an item after the second one so players think they've already found the secret. Most secrets in the franchise have been behind, at most, one or on rare occasions two Illusory Walls. May also be a reference to the above-mentioned path in the first game that lead to the Great Hollow, which was behind two Illusory Walls.
    • Getting to Archdragon Peak requires you to kill Bonus Boss Oceiros, the Consumed King, pick up a gesture from a corpse in the room past his boss chamber, then use said gesture in one very specific spot in a completely different part of the world that you have probably been to already and would never think of going back to. The one hint you're given is a corpse/statue performing the gesture where you're supposed to do it, which you've probably completely forgotten about by the time you get the gesture.
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