We all know what’s going on with these articles at this point, so let’s delve right into this week’s picks for #s 129-120! For a reminder on the criteria for judgment, see here.
129. Godskin Apostle (Elden Ring)
Andrew: The lanky, smaller of the Godskin Duo, Apostle is unfortunately very similar to the Noble moveset wise. They both have very similar dynamics. Expect to see a lot of fast attacking, lengthy combos, blackflame and a transition to second phase that gives Apostle a single extra attack to complicate matters.
Difficulty is, again, very similar to fighting the Godskin Noble. The Apostle trades the rapier away for a slightly lengthier curved sword. Despite Apostle being smaller, it actually moves slower than the Noble, especially in second phase. That said, they are tangibly identical to fight and receive identical difficulty ratings.
The same lore that applies to the Noble also applies to the Apostle. The Godskins spreading out after essentially being evicted from Farum Azula at least does a good jo explaining why they both appear several times each.
Where the Noble’s new attack in second phase entirely shifts the dynamic of the fight, Apostle’s can too but to a lesser extent. However, this ultimately feels a bit more interactive, explaining its slight elevation in fun over Noble here. With Noble’s roll attack, all the player can really do is just get out of the way, maybe sling a spell at him if possible. Apostle’s new second phase attacks involves him basically turning into a giraffe, gaining a seemingly elastic neck that makes closing the gap on the player easy. However, instead of just dodge at all costs, the player could strafe to avoid the blow, then use the opening to get in a hit. They could also simply dodge roll in for a melee attack, or even dodge out to toss a spell of some kind at Apostle. Having more broad counterplay serves to make it more meaningful than Noble by a slight margin.
Mango: Apostle has a lanky moveset and a built in mechanic where he tries to interruot healing with blackflame. Because of that, I gave it a 10 for difficulty. This boss is a reskin which is fought several times throughout the game, so I only gave it a 5 for lore. I gave this fight a 10 for fun.
128. Skeleton Lords (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: When passing through the fog door and initially gazing upon the boss area, it’s natural to be intimidated by what you see here. The room is filled to the brim with skulls, there are three tall skeletons with imposing weapons and armor, and the accompanying soundtrack is also quite eerie as well. Unfortunately, the main issue with this fight is that it’s yet another poorly balanced gank fight, of which there were plenty in Dark Souls 2. As a result, the fight was relatively forgettable for the most part.
For the most part, if you don’t have crippling claustrophobia, you should win this fight easily. The Skeleton Lords each have very small health pools, dying in about 3-5 good hits. When they die, they are replaced by a group of smaller skeletons which all die fast as well. There is overall a distinct lack of lethality in this fight. Even a passive player who is overtly patient should never truly be threatened here.
The Skeleton Lords were sent by the Iron King to essentially eliminate the undead, as to try and fight off the ongoing Undead Curse. Eventually, they fell prey to this very curse, went hollow and forgot their mission completely when their mental states deteriorated. Before long, they took the forms seen in this fight.
The boss area is truly great for a gank fight. There are three tall structures the player can use for crowd control that are not destructible. As well, though the fight is easy, killing tons of skeletons all at once as they bum rush the player induces quite the dopamine rush. The atmosphere for this fight is top notch as well. The only issue is that it’s just too easy, which can hinder immersion and vulnerability a good deal.
Mango: As the Skeleton Lords spawn more skeletons when they die, it is easy for the player to get overwhelmed if they are not careful. I gave this fight a 12 for difficulty. Lore gets a 10 and fun gets a 7, as I felt this fight was mediocre and simple.
127. Old Iron King (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: One of four Lord Souls, and the second to be discussed here during this series. The Old Iron King is the boss of the Iron Keep, one of the more polarizing maps out of Dark Souls 2. With an impressive aesthetic appearance, lackluster mechanics and an iffy boss area design hold this one back.
Difficulty here is mainly due to one simple, silly thing- the infamous ”Old Iron King’s hole.” While the king is surrounded by lava which would result in immediate death on contact, there is also a small circular hole just to the side of the entrance to the fight that will end the fight similarly. The king’s attacks are easy to dodge in a vacuum due to an absurdly long windup and cooldown, but the player must balance dodging these attacks with maintaining their footing and avoiding the hole. Given that the king hits quite hard, making a mistake can either be lethal or result in taking a ton of damage.
The Old Iron King is one of a few different people in lore who once resided over a large kingdom in the game’s lore. He waged war against a territory known as Venn, and was ultimately successful due to the sudden aid of Sir Alonne. The Old Iron King initially had a strong kingdom, but as the Undead Curse set in, he tried to take action against it, but was ultimately overrun and defeated. His biggest asset, the Brume Tower, would get taken over by a fragment of Manus. His next biggest possession, the Iron Keep, would be both his burial ground as well as where he would linger after going hollow himself. He was ultimately killed by the Smelter Demon, who simply drowned him in the Keep’s lava and killed him, left unchallenged to wander the halls of the Iron Keep undisturbed.
Overall, the boss area is pretty iffy. On one hand, it’s pretty silly that such an important character narratively could get reduced to only being challenging because of a small hole in the ground. On the other, there is a small section of platform around a corner the player can use to hide and take cover from the king’s fireballs he sometimes breathes. That is relatively nice and saves the area from being a complete clunker.
Mango: More often than not, the Old Iron King can knock you into the hole Andrew was talking about and result in instant defeat, so I gave it a 15 for difficulty. Because this boss is one of the Lord Souls, I gave it a 14 for lore. Finally, I gave it a 14 for fun.
126. Crucible Knight Duo (Elden Ring)
Andrew: Like the Godskin Duo, the duo Crucible Knights make up one of the most polarizing fights in the game. It’s not hard to see why either- they’re reskinned bosses, and it’s a gank fight. This is one of the harder dungeon bosses out there- though it might seem it at first, it’s not a badly designed gank fight.
Difficulty for this fight is pretty extreme. One Crucible Knight alone is imposing, but two can be overwhelming. One of the knights named Ordovis is the stronger of the two, though he is also slightly slower than the other unnamed knight. When the unnamed knight reaches low health and efentually is defeated, Ordovis becomes noticeably faster and more aggressive. He will severely punish the player for trying to heal, similarly to Dark Souls 3’s Champion Gundyr or Dark Soul 2’s Fume Knight. Finding openings to get in hits or heal can be brutally hard. However, there is one saving grace- every single attack these two use can be parried, and through the use of invincibility frames, the player can prevail.
There is absolutely no narrative meaning to this fight whatsoever. There is no explanation for why these two are basically hanging out in a random dungeon. It almost seems as if they’re just waiting for the player to arrive so they can kill them, which hinders immersion somewhat.
Gank fights have historically been hit or miss as far as fun goes. Here, From Software actually did a decent job balancing this fight. That’s despite the complete lack of anything in the environment to use as crowd control. Given the Crucible Knights’ susceptibility to being parried, a player with a buckler shield and a steady hand can drastically diminish the challenge of this fight. As well, due to the fact that Ordovis is designed to respond to the player’s attempt to heal very aggressively, a clever player can use this mechanic to manipulate his AI. By intentionally healing at a moderate distance, the player can bait out his response and either parry it or dodge accordingly for an easy punish. As such, it does take a trained eye to see it, but this is a relatively well designed gank fight.
Mango: Crucible Knights in general are detestable, and as this one was quite hard as a pairing, I gave it a 15 for difficulty. Like Andrew stated, there is nothing much to like about this fight from a lore perspective, so I gave it a 3. This boss is very tedious, and I gave it a 4 for fun.
125. Looking Glass Knight (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: My candidate for the most overrated boss in all of Soulsborne, the Looking Glass Knight is one of, at the time of writing, three PvP bosses seen in the franchise. Unfortunately, though not a horrible fight by any means, it is doubtlessly the weakest instance of such a dynamic seen. It does have compelling lore and a beautiful aesthetic for its boss area, though the way it actually carries out PvP is weak.
Challenge is predictably volatile, but has some issues nevertheless. The Knight will fight the player by itself until it hits about half health. At this point, it will try to retreat to the other end of the area from where it is standing, and it is here where it will attempt to ’summon’ backup, which can potentially be another player. However, it ends up standing still and trying to do this for so long that it is exceptionally easy to simply kill the knight before its aid can ever arrive. Annoyingly, if you yourself end up being summoned to help the knight, once the knight dies, so to does your fight end, meaning it’s possible to sit and wait at a loading screen only to be kicked out of the fight immediately and have to go through another loading screen. As well, the knight standing completely still for so long really hinders the difficulty and the pacing of the fight. You have to basically intentionally allow the knight to summon someone to actually be able to fight its backup.
Lore is strong, ties to an important character, and is a little bit unnerving at that. The Knight was, as it was designed, initially intended to serve as a rite of passage for people wanting to join King Vendrick’s guard. If the challenger overcame the knight, they earned the right to fight for the king. If they failed, they got brutally slaughtered by what the game’s lore describes as ’the specular monstrosity’ and that’s that. Even after Vendrick fled the castle, the knight remained in place. The game’s lore now seems to imply that the knight could perhaps now have shifted its goal to guarding the throne, testing a potential heir in a similar fashion.
Overall, Old Monk and Halflight Spear of the Church do a PvP boss way, way better. Still, for its solid lore, beautiful boss area aesthetic and decent challenge, fun is overall relatively good here.
Mango: You have to flank this boss ro deal any real damage to it, as your weapon will bounce right off its huge shield. Because of this, I gave it a 14 for difficulty. The Undead Crypt comes after this boss, and is a mandatory area I felt to be the worst in the game, so I gave this boss a 14 for lore. The music, the area and the boss itself are a ton of fun, getting a 14 from me.
124. Darkbeast Paarl (Bloodborne)
Andrew: Another instance of a classic DPS test, Paarl is overall significantly more well refined and less one dimensional than the Loran ”Camera”beast. The fight may be optional, but it is optional in a fairly unique way that will be discussed later.
Challenge is very dependent on when the boss is fought. The earliest this boss can be fought is right after reaching Cathedral Ward, where the player can potentially access the Hypogean Gaol and reach this boss from the back door. If done this way, it is going to be an immense test, as the player will almost definitely not have the DPS to consistently stagger Paarl. However, the player can also access this fight amidst their trek through Yahar’gul the Unseen Village, a point in which this fight turns into a total joke. A middling grade for difficulty therefore seems appropriate.
Lore for this fight is interesting, and the environment does a phenomenal job at telling a story. A player with a keen eye may notice that the back of the Hypogean Gaol curiously leads to a back entrance into Old Yharnam, and a small cave connecting the two almost looks deliberately built. However, the structure is very weak and ragged, looking like it was created with force rather than careful construction. As Paarl drops the Spark Hunter badge when defeated, we can conclude that he had or has a major connection to Archibald, a hunter known for designing lightning based weapons in secret. Given that a struggle to escape its quarters was likely what connects the Gaol to Old Yharnam, it is entirely possible that Archibald used Paarl as an experimentation tool at somepoint to create his weapons.
Paarl takes the fast paced nature of the Loran Camerabeast, without actually turning into ’Camerabeast Paarl.’ That is to say that this fight flows significantly better and is much less tedious to engage in if you haven’t got the DPS to constantly stagger him. As a result, a good grade for fun was appropriate.
Mango: This boss is basically made to see if you have good DPS, and I gave it a 10 for difficulty. Both lore and fun got a 10.
123. Old Dragonslayer (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: Ornstein without the Smough, the yin without the yang and the peanut butter without the jelly. That is Old Dragonslayer in a nutshell, only packing a couple of extra tricks that its obvious inspiration did not have. The only reason this fight is memorable is because of that inspiration, as if the Old Dragonslayer was just some guy with an indistinct armor set and a spear, it would have almost definitely appeared much, much lower on this list.
Difficulty is the main point of criticism here, and it isn’t hard to see why. Part of why Ornstein and Smough are hard is that they both have incredibly well defined weaknesses that are covered up by the other’s strengths. Ornstein hits like a piece of tissue paper, but because he’s so fast, he can easily interrupt the player if they go all in trying to attack Smough. Likewise, Smough brings forth the pain that Ornstein cannot, forcing the player to stay honest if they want to go after Ornstein first. Here, however, no such protection exists. As well, all of Old Dragonslayer’s attacks except for one are very front-loaded with poor tracking, meaning the player can pretty much just strafe around him the whole time, effortlessly dodge an attack, and punish.
Lore surrounding this boss has endless amounts of theories, various connections to a number of big names, but mo clear direction as the game itself doesn’t provide us with much. Here’s what we do know- before arriving to this fight, there is a very alive and well dragon sitting right outside the boss area, and this supposed ‘ dragon slayer’ doesn’t lift a finger to do anything about it. Given how he uses Dark magic instead of Ornstein’s lightning, which is very effective against most dragons, it is possible Ornstein befell the same fare as Knight Artorias and was corrupted by the Abyss. That said, there is nothing in any Soulsborne game actually connecting Ornstein to the Abyss. Finally, no matter how you spin it, there is one huge question- Ornstein was canonically defeated in the first Dark Souls game, presumably killed. Was he really just an illusion concocted by Gwyndolin? or did someone revive him? Again, endless amounts of questions and theories, and all this time later, we have and likely never will get any solid closure.
The fight starts off very fast, but Old Dragonslayer’s tendency to be easily defeated via strafing slows things down immensely. Still, that initial dopamine rush combined with the amazing soundtrack and nostalgia hit of reminiscing over a vastly superior boss fight do aid the fun element here.
Mango: You can strafe around the majority of this boss’ attacks, so I gave it a 12 for difficulty. This boss is obviously a throwback as a knock off Ornstein, soI gave it a 12 for lore and a 10 for fun.
122. Gaping Dragon (Dark Souls 1)
Andrew: Probably one of the weirdest dragons ever, this one can be fought in the Depths. Strength build players will likely want to come here as soon as they can, as it gives the opportunity to get what is likely the best Strength oriented weapon in the game. Otherwise, this boss is fairly forgettable.
Difficulty is relatively high, mainly because of this boss’ high damage output and tendency to be hard to track. Its body becomes a hit box on a few of its attacks, which is difficult to properly prepare for. Any chip damage the player takes risks putting them into one shot range for the dragon’s deadlier maneuvers, such as when it charges through the area or tries to snatch the character in its nasty jaws.
Lore is simple, but decently important albeit very short. The Gaping Dragon is one of the last Everlasting Dragons from a massive war held long before the events of this game that set everything into motion. Apparently, its wings were permanently clipped and it permanently fell into the Depths, unable to escape for some reason. Here, it basically starved to death and grew what the game calls an ’eternal hunger’ that caused it to take the form seen here.
Mango: This dragon pretty much just moves slowly and has a handful of big AoE attacks, so I gave it an 8 for difficulty. This boss is required for this specific path to Blighttown, so I gave it a 10 for lore. This boss was pretty mediocre overall, and I gave it a 5 for fun.
121. Fool’s Idol (Demon’s Souls)
Andrew: Though doubtlessly one of Demon’s Souls’ easiest, Fool’s Idol was one of a handful of gimmicks from this game that From Software got right. In a couple different ways, this boss fight is a puzzle. It, in theory, is a deadly puzzle at that which puts a wrap on one of the most frustrating areas in the game. In practice… well, it’s a puzzle that tries to be threatening.
Difficulty for this fight is a total joke. Fool’s Idol has a puny health bar and, especially on repeat playthroughs, her gimmick is easy to overcome. After being initially attack, Fool’s Idol will spawn a series of clones. The real deal is the only one who can take real damage during this time, and is easily identifiable- it will be the most aggressive spellcaster of the bunch, typically positioned far away from the player.
Lore for this boss is interesting, and perhaps a little terrifying. Basically, the Fool’s Idol is itself a clone designed in the image of the now deceased Queen of Latria, an avatar maintained by the Old Monk. The Old Monk did this to bring false hope to the Tower of Latria’s citizens, preventing an insurrection and making it easier to accomplish his main objective- luring people to the fake Queen to gain an audience with her, only to have people snatched away by a group of gargoyles and taken off to the Monk’s quarters, where he could basically steal their souls. Terrifying!
One extra gimmick entwined within this fight is an interesting connection to the Prison of Hope. The Fool’s Idol cannot actually be defeated until a hollow using resurrection magic to keep her alive is killed. This hollow is found in a small tower just outside the boss room. If it isn’t killed, the Fool’s Idol may hit 0 HP and seem defeated, but the player will not be credited with the victory. To this day, this is the only noss fight where the player fan actually use the fog door to travel outside and back to the entrance, presumably so that they wouldn’t need to quit out of the game entirely once they realized their mistake. This neat connection to the game’s map as well as the neat gimmick within the aftual fight gives it wings in the fun department.
Mango: This boss’ gimmick is tricky for new players, and I gave it a 12 for difficulty. I gabe this boss a 10 for both lore and fun, as the clones were a little annoying.
120. Armored Spider (Demon’s Souls)
Andrew: Surprisingly one of the harder bosses the game has to offer, Armor Spider is a no-holds-barred fight. No gimmick to be found, just a big angry spider to be defeated.
For a new player, this presents somewhat of a ’welcome to Demon’s Souls’ experience, especially if you fight this before Tower Knight. The Armor Spider’s damage output is high and its armor isn’t just for show. Avoiding getting caught in the web it spits is paramount, as this makes rolling impossible and can spell doom on the spot. Ranged characters may be out of range of the spit, but unless they have the Lava Bow which won’t be possible on a first playthrough, they can’t threaten any meaningful damage back unless they get closer and put themselves in the line of fire. Overall, a challenging boss that can be a real wake up call if the player comes to it right after fighting Phalanx.
Lore for this boss is a little bit barren, but still interesting. One of the rewards the player can earn using its boss soul is a pyromancy ’Ignite’. The spell itself talks of how primitively styled it is, implying that the Armor Spider itself is a mature, possibly very old demon. That’s about it.
Good manual dexterity and analysis of this boss’ tells are essential to winning this fight. A challenging, engaging boss fight is about the most the player could have asked for, making it out to be a solid fight in the fun department.
Mango: This boss offers a very small window to get hits in safely, getting a 13 for difficulty. I gave it a 10 for lore and a 7 for fun, as it was overall less engaging than it was annoying.
Michael ”Mango” Givigliano, is a woodworker residing in the town of Alvin, Texas. He has managed to finish a ’Soul Level 1’ playthrough of Dark Souls 3, a run where Mango did not at any point spend Souls to level up his character before finishing the base game and DLC. His favorite From Software game is Dark Souls 3, and his favorite boss fight would be against Slave Knight Gael. You can find his YouTube channel, where he occasionally uploads Elden Ring, Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne content, here