What do you mean by hours of gameplay? If you die, you lose all your sh*t?
What I mean by that is, the way to save is by lighting and resting at bonfires.
Most enemies that you kill will remain dead until you rest at a bonfire. So if you rested at a bonfire, went through an entire level and ended up dying after 2 or 3 hours without resting at another bonfire in the next area, then all that progress is lost and you have to do it all over again.
But you didn't lose all progress. You learned. You'll be better at the game than you were 2 or 3 hours ago. Dying is part of the game, as intended by the developers. Each death is (or should be) a lesson. The game isn't insanely hard, it's just unforgiving of mistakes and once you've learned more about the enemies, weapons, environment and gameplay mechanics you'll be able to avoid most if not all (you still have to be careful) deaths.
They make you drop your souls to put pressure on you to get them back. It works well because although it sucks extra hard if you die again, the joy will also be greater if you do get them back. There's no success without the risk of failure
Edit: RyanBurnsRed, I believe there are three wikis filled with content. The devs' intention with this game was to let the players figure it out and help each other, and it worked really well. People always like to help each other out with knowledge, hence the huge community aspect.