A few days ago I was whining about Chapter 4. Though I still despise the boss fight and think it’s unnecessarily cruel to the player, I am thrilled to report that I beat it last night. These are my observations and strategy.
Basically – break it down into baby steps.
First, the easiest step, is set the machine to pipe. It will stay on this setting if you are killed and respawn, so only needs to be done once.
Then it’s time to start collecting ink blobs and make pipe weapon (three times at least – for me it worked to prepare all the weapons before starting to attack). The ink collection took awhile to get the hang of, because I was staying on the opposite side of the room from Boris. And if you’re across the room from him when he’s hacking up ink, you will not get to it before it evaporates. You just can’t. You must be right there by him–wait for him to charge at you, step aside, collect the ink, run away. This was daunting at first, but as I got more comfortable with the rhythm, it was quite simple.
Run around the room a time or two if that’s more comfortable. You don’t have to go straight to the ink maker. Insert ink into machine, then turn the crank.
In the period between collecting an ink blob and when the machine spits out the pipe, Boris did not cough up collectible ink (he still goes through the motions, there is just nothing to pick up). Not a problem, just something to note. Once you make a pipe, Boris will spit out ink blobs again.
It didn’t let me insert more than one ink blob at a time, but you can make multiple weapons to leave in a pile. If you don’t pick them up, they will be waiting if you respawn! I made a stockpile of about 8 (Boris stopped coughing the ink then, seems to be the limit of objects in play), and only then did I move on to attacking.
I’m not sure what the actual mechanics are, but I could only land a hit on Boris when I was facing him and he was coughing. His movements are different in the three stages, but if you keep on the move running constantly you have a pretty good chance of staying alive. Keep circling, try to keep your back to the wall as much as possible to improve visibility, and move in for a hit when he starts retching.
It was so scary and frustrating to start with. But it does get easier with each try. Break it down into steps. Gain confidence collecting the ink, making the pipe. Even if you respawn, you’re learning and getting better. Eventually it will be downright easy. Then concentrate on getting the first hit. You might die on the next stage, but it’s okay. You made it as far as one hit, that’s progress, you CAN do it again and it is never as hard as the first time! Practice landing the second hit, then the third, and then sweet victory!
It’s still super hard, no doubt about it. I would never have invested so much effort if I weren’t so emotionally invested in the world. But if I was able to do it, I think anyone can. Just take it easy, mastering one step at a time. You got this.