David, I recently started playing Dark Souls again after stopping in March (I got stuck on a boss fight I couldn't get past). Well, still can't get past them, but I am determined this time. There is a nice prize after the fight which will greatly benefit future exploring.
I agree with you, the game does not hold your hand. As frustrating and demanding as it can be, there is a certain sense of satisfaction in getting past rough areas and or bosses. And it extremely thrilling to open up and explore a new area--and risky too, since you might find yourself in some hot water knowing that if you die you'll have to go right back to that spot to retrieve all your precious souls.
*********** "Nothin' up my sleeve. . ." --Bullwinkle J. Moose