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Hmmm whats this? Dark Souls. Well, Ive heard of it. They say its pretty hard,

but at this point in time, the games difficulty hasnt been beaten like a dead horse by

crappy, unoriginal game journalists and for those reasons Ill check it out.

What the f*ck did I just play?

That was pretty much my exact reaction upon starting and completing Dark Souls for the

first time. It was the most bizarre feeling I had gotten after beating a video game. I

felt accomplished yet empty at the same time. I felt like I hadnt even scratched the

surface, like I just played through the whole thing wearing a blindfold. I mustve missed

something! Something that explains what the hell I was doing!

I didnt know it at the time, or at any point during my first playthrough, but there

was much more to Dark Souls than I couldve imaginedSomething that has since become

so muddled within Games Journalism. Almost like an unintentional smear campaign thats

made people forget what truly mattered when it came to Dark Souls and what gave it such

a well-known reputation in the first place. Being able to sum up a video game in the words

its popular cuz its hard lol,” is a nice little gimmick if you want to market

the game easily to a bunch of people, but it doesnt elaborate on much of anything.

Dark Souls has been heralded as one of the greatest games of all time; that is an exclusive

club. Its gotten countless awards, spawned a whole franchise and style of games (sorry

Demon Souls) and has captivated mainstream and hardcore audiences alike. Its done

all these things for good reason, and while a good challenge, a hard-to-master difficulty,

and a cryptic, open-ended story all played a big role in its success, it doesnt

truly explain why Dark Souls 1 is SO AWESOME!

And thats exactly what Im here to do

Theres been an argument against video games for many years, claiming they arent TRUE

art. Now, if I were to choose one game that Id force those dickbags to sit down and

play from start to finish in hopes of changing their minds. My first choice is Dark Souls

and (Bioshock 1.) Because this is the type of experience that

you could show an English teacher, or a poetry class, and theyd be likeuhhh yeah can

you make me 50 copies of this exact experience but in novel form so we can go to extreme,

lengthy discussions about the significance of the pendant?”

Seriously, thats one of the games biggest appeals. Just like poems and certain stories,

the meaning you can find within is not always in plain sight. Dark Souls is no different

because you have to take a close look at it to understand what the f*ck its trying

to say, and what in gods name is going on. Without abstract thinking and interpretation,

you wont be able to get much from Dark Soulsstory. From the moment you start

in the Undead Asylum to the final showdown with Literally Zues but cooler, the motivations

and reasoning behind what youre doing is kept very vague. Youre dropped into this

huge, forsaken world with no real direction except to ring a bell.

There are actually two Bells of Awakening.” Errring two bells, I guess.

You might even breeze through the whole game without taking a second to look around, talk

to people, or read item descriptions. Anyways! At surface value, one might look at Dark Souls

and think, “ahh just another generic RPG with dragons, knights, swords and magic. How

many times have we seen that? I bet it was made by British people too.”

But then once you start getting into it its like, “Wait a minute, why am I ringing two

bells? Who the f*ck is this asshole? What the sh*t?! Oh theres Demons now? Man, whats

with the goddamn poisonI? What-what IS this place? I was just in a swamp killing giant

Mosquitoes, then I find this huge tree, and now Im on this enormous lake fighting a

7-headed dragon and F*CKING clams?! WHAT AM I PLAYING RIGHT NOW? What the hell is that?

Whys that dragon look so weird? Why is it breathing crystals n sh*t AAAAHHHHHH!!!”

And its this idea of not knowing, these questions in your mind that you dont have

answers for. This feeling of being out of the loop on everything but the bare essentials

that creates this undying, morbid, curiousity. Sh*ts pretty f*cked up in Lordran and YOU

want to find out why!! Thats one of Dark Soulsgreatest strengths

is it is so atypical in its presentation. Most mainstream games are pretty straightforward

in this regard because they need to have stories that babies can understand, which makes it

all the more puzzling how Dark Souls is able to appeal to such a wide audience.

Because you cant go through the game and NOT be constantly asking questions. The plot

is minimalistic, and its up to the player to come to their own conclusions. You fill

in the blanks, and theres a f*ckton of blanks to fill in. You see this, Sea of Thieves?

Thats how you create your own fun!!! Now theres always the possibility that by making

your story vague and confusing it ends up making no sense and being vague and confusing,

but then theres the other side where you have a confusing or unclear story, but the

experience is so enchanting it makes you WANT to know more.

Would you like to know more? And thats what Dark Souls accomplishes

so it doesnt fall into theplain old, just bad storytellingcategory. But lets

pull back this layer of Dragon Scales and actually look at what Dark Souls offers within

its narrative. Lets take a look at the depth within the Onion.

I think anytime theres a series of books, movies, tv shows or video games, and theres

enough interest in the lore and background of that series to fuel 1.2 MILLION Subscribers

into a YouTube channel?! Yeah uh, I think its safe to say people are interested.

The amount of fan theories and lore explanation videos on this series should tell you all

you need to know about how involved gamers are with the story. An interesting tidbit

I read was the idea that the item descriptions in-game are actually the player characters

thoughts. Probably not true, but some items become much more interesting when you look

at things that way. And thats the great thing about interpretive stories, the way

you look at it. Dark Souls is f*cking deep, you dont need

me to tell you that. And there are plenty of reasons why, so many that I dont have

time to explain them all. For one, ambient music is basically nonexistent. Theres

a total of 4 areas in the entire game excluding boss battles, where music plays. Firelink

Shrine, Daughters of Chaos Bonfire, Gwyneveres hot and steamy bedroom, and Ash Lake. If youve

played through Dark Souls, then you know each one of these areas are vitally important,

and the music creates a unique tone and feeling for each one. Sadness and sorrow. Hope and

faith. Magnificence and awe. Warm and welcoming. This lack of music creates a feeling of isolation

for the majority of the experience and this means there is nothing to distract you from

the world youre in. The only things that follow you through Lordran are the sound of

your footsteps and clanking armor and it makes those moments when you hear music much more

powerful as a result. The combat is deep too, and well talk about

that a bit later, but what I find to be the single greatest thing about Dark Souls is

how everything is connected. Not just in map layout, but in items, bosses, enemies, NPCs,

they all connect together to form a greater whole

Take the classic gameplay element of dying and respawning. In pretty much every other

video game except Bioshock (once again) the concept of respawning has little to no explanation

at all. Cuz its justjust a video game. But in Dark Souls, death and respawns arent

just gameplay mechanics, theyre a part of the story.

You are an undead, branded with the darksign which means you cannot truly die. How do you

kill, that which has no life? But each death brings you closer to hollowing

a concept well explore later on. So you are linked to the fire, you are linked

to the flame and as long as there are bonfires you will keep coming back.

Its not often you see a game that has justification for its gameplay mechanics written into

its lore. Lemme ask you, have you ever thought about what Estus actually is and why

it heals you? Most people probably saw it as any other item that restores health, cuz

its justjust a video game. Hearts, potions, medkits, food, magical green herbs

that definitely isnt weed, a harmonious melody, games never explain why you get healed

from this sh*t because it really doesnt matter.

But in Dark Souls does. Estus is bottled FIRE, people! Thats why it refills AT the bonfire.

You capture the flame in your flask. Dark Souls is about disparity between life and

death, fire and darkness and the Bonfires are beacons of life. Miracles come from Gwyn

and his faithful knights. Pyromancy comes from the Witch of Izalith and her Daughters

of Chaos. And Sorcery comes from Seath the Dankless. These gameplay tools have reason

to be in the game beyond their immediate use. You could run through the list of items, mechanics,

tools, and weapons and connect each one of them as these pieces to form the greater whole

of Dark Souls universe, story and lore. And thats the beauty of this game thats

where the depth comes from.

Now the story, meaning, and purpose behind Dark Souls is riddled with obscurity and has

plenty of room for different interpretations. And while, I could turn this video into something

that discusses nothing but the lore for 40minutes, Im more or less going to highlight what

I think are the most important themes or messages that Dark Souls tries to hammer home; the

things I learned. I encourage you to share your own thoughts as well.

So we have the basic premise of the player being an undead in an asylum, where they are

all corralled to await the end of the world. “This is your fate.”

Well thats a pretty shitty fate right there, but home boy Oscar breaks you out because

theres a prophecy. The Chosen Undead whos supposed to travel

to Lordran, and ring the bells of awakening, and when you do that

The fate of the undead thou shalt know.” So right off the bat we wanna know whats

gonna happen to the Undead, whats gonna happen to us, all these NPCs, all these

roaming hollows. That question is put into your mind from the very beginning.

Cutscenes are rare, and none are more jam-packed with important information than the opening.

What this scene showcases is how man came to behow they became GODS. How they took

the world by storm and destroyed the previous regime to create their own. When fire was

created, we learned of our existence, we strove to discover, explore, and build. And we found

soul within the flame, metaphorically and physically. Incidentally, you could look at

the real world discovery of fire by primitive man as arguably the most revolutionary thing

to happen in the history of human beings. Once we found fire, the world was forever

changed around us. “But remember one thing. Always fear the

flame, lest you be devoured by it, and lose yourself. I would hate to see that happen

again…” So much of what Dark Souls presents is relatable

to the real world. You could interpret the idea of prolonging the Age of Fire, or ushering

in the Age of Dark as a message on the rise and fall of civilizations. For example, the

Roman Empire thrived for centuries but eventually its flames faded, and despite their best

efforts to keep the Age of Romans alive, nothing could stop the coming dark. How long will

our Age last? The old Roman deities were cast aside, replaced with a new god, and his son

Just as you can become the Harbinger of a new age in Dark Souls, the age of Dark. The

typicalLord of DarknessTrope in fantasy stories works better in the world of Dark

Souls than most other stories. I really enjoy the ambiguity of the endings

because its great for speculation, and what I saw in these endings is that they are rooted

in polar opposite ideas, that of self-sacrifice and self preservation. Martyrdom or apathy.

But as well all know… “APATHY IS DEATH!” Maybe Dark Souls is meant to portray the calamity

and hopelessness of knowing the empirethe civilization you serve, the place you call

home is coming to an end. How do you deal with the coming dread? In this sense the Undead

and the Dark could be seen as the always present threat, a tide of people who are bound to

one day replace your way of life with their own.

O Heretic, swathed in Darkan eternal curse upon thee.”

This theme of different Ages collapsing and rising is present in both sequels, which means

its definitely something the designers wanted to think about.

One theme that sticks out very well in the Dark Souls experience is perseverance. Individually,

the undead or humans are weak, fragile creatures. The enemies that dont outmatch you in size,

will simply outnumber you. Throughout the game you encounter several

bodies, with helpful items, and while most of them could be looked at simply as items

left by the developers for the player. I see a deeper meaning, because why is it, that

most every item you find is tied to a corpse? Isnt that strange? Its because every

one of those things was left behind by the person who died there. Individually you suck,

but as more and more undead travel to fulfill the prophecy, as Undead are caught in the

crossfire of all these colliding forces, at some point or another they finally succumb.

So as you journey through Lordran, you encounter greater souls, better items, stronger weapons,

all from others who made it farther than the last. Even in death the undead that came before

you are helping you by leaving something useful behind. You essentially get the accrued knowledge,

weapons, spells, equipment and items of every single traveler or unfortunate soul in Lordran.

Because you are destined to succeed where others have failed, youre the main character

after all! “As I explained earlier, Im the main

character!” The Chosen Undead. But this also ties in with

the games difficulty. As an Undead, finding purpose and striving towards a goal is what

keeps you from hollowing, a slow process where a person looses their mind and sanity. Every

gamers goal when playing Dark Souls is to beat it. But what of those who never did?

What of those who ran up against a wall they couldnt climb? A tower they couldnt

scale? They became the hollows of Lordran. You see, you only become hollow when you quit.

So by persevering through failure, you, the Chosen Undead will feel great satisfaction

when you overcome those challenges that gave you so much trouble. You WILL run up against

an enemy that seems unbeatable. You will die, you will fail, but it doesnt matter how

many times you are slain, how massive and impossible the road ahead might seem because

so long as you push against the inevitable, you will survive in Lordran and you will survive

the real world. “YES! YES!”

And youll come out stronger than before, ready to take on the next challenge.

Aw fuck.” Hollowing in the Dark Souls universe is one

of the coolest concepts Ive ever seen a game present. Its a microcosm of losing

your purpose in the real world. It could also be seen as a metaphor for depression, those

that go hollow, submit to their darkest feelings, their sadness, dread; they give up and lose

themselves. Life is about overcoming challenges, solving problems, and carving some meaning

out of your existence. What value does a persons life have if they dont strive to accomplish

something? What satisfaction do you get from life when there are no problems to solve?

Just as characters go hollow in Dark Souls, you too would go hollow in the real world

if you did nothing with your life. Theres far more to this game than meets

the eye, and its because of its open-ended method of storytelling, your interpretations

might be different. They might be completely different. But no matter who you are or what

you think, stay safe and dont you dare go hollow.

Now when it comes to gameplay, the combat in Dark Souls has a lot of depth too.

Theres so many cool weapons and badass armor in this game. You can look like an Onion

for Christs sake. Thats the armor Shrek would wear. Certain styles of weapons have

different movesets, and everything has its advantages, disadvantages, and requirements

except the Ring of Favor & Protection thats the best thing in the world.

And youll need to be smart about what you invest in. PRO TIP: Resistance is the best

stat to level, I max it first. This is where the currency, SOULS (what else did you think

it would be?) comes into effect. Souls are the lifeblood of your journey. If you die

two times in a row without returning to the spot you first perished, youll lose all

the souls you had, you want to avoid this at all costs. But you also need to carry enough

souls to be able to actually buy things, and I love this risk/reward playstyle that Dark

Souls offers, because the two death system means that you didnt learn from your first

mistake and you made it again, if you cant get back to the spot you first died.

Theres plenty of builds to experiment with and thats where the fun begins. Because

you cant realistically cover everything in one playthrough.

You have to make decisions about what playstyle you like best so you can optimize in it or

try to find a general balance in between. Some weapons hit hard, but they weigh you

down and are easy to dodge. Others can inflict status effects, and all the sets of armor

offer different levels of protection. Dark Souls has an amazing and rewarding progression

system and on the opposite side, it can be brutally punishing too. Losing your souls

and humanity too many times can set you back and in my case, I felt I had to restart the

game. But the knowledge I got from that initial playthrough stick with me. It feels great

to finally be able to use that sorcery spell youve had forever. Or that giant greataxe

that looks badass! Or to be able to not fat roll while wearing full Havels. These accomplishments

give power, satisfaction, and pride to the player because they happen both in the long-term

and the short-term. Because if youre like me, then you are building and improving your

build throughout the entire game! Best part of it is, damn near everything is


But the mechanics, the flow of combat is where the game truly shines. Because it doesnt

matter how upgraded your equipment is, how good your weapons are, if you cant manage

this little green bar right here. If you cant dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge and block,

you aint gonna get through sh*t. This green bar right here? This is your stamina, your

soul, your life. Every action you take besides walking requires stamina and its the games

way of limiting what youre capable of. The entire game must be played around it.

Unless you play a cheesey, glass cannon sorcery build like a queerbo.

Keeping with the tradition of ambiguity, the only means of directly communicating with

other players is emotes. THAT ARENT SOLD IN LOOT BOXES FOR ONCE, HOLY SH*T! It adds

a bit of comedy to the game, and its the limitations of how you communicate that makes

it so fun. Against the AI, you have to anticipate the

movements of your enemy. Charging in recklessly without a plan is bound to get you killed.

Yeah you might be able to set that first-person shooter to easy and take out everything without

sweating but Dark Souls doesnt have a difficulty setting okay, bitch! You gotta be a man! Or

a woman! Every enemy is different, and most likely,

youre going to die to each of them at least once. However, this is where Dark Souls offers

a level of mastery for the player to achieve. By learning the patterns and moves of your

foes so well, you can fight them without even taking a hit. With enough time, practice and

patience, you can essentially trivialize the game across multiple playthroughs. Sometimes

I get cocky because Ive beaten all the Souls games multiple times and when I start

to play carelessly is when I get reminded that I cant f*ck around, because Ill

get punished. But whether youve got a bow, magic, miracles

or a crapton of upgraded armor pieces, you use the tools you have to your advantage.

And dont be afraid to use them! Dark Souls is difficult, youve heard that a million

times but why the challenge is so renown is because its not BULLSH*T difficulty

For the most part. Yes there is trial and error, but again, that connects with the themes.

You learn through failure, in fact thats like the only way to learn.

Pain is an excellent teacher.” If I had to highlight some negative aspects

of the game, Capra Demon fight is just so f*cking stupid. Theres no way going through

that door for the first time, that youre gonna come out on top. Its just not gonna

happen. You have almost no time to take in your surroundings before you get assblasted.

Ceaseless Discharge has some pretty questionable hitboxes, and the Bed of Chaos iswell….

The Bed of Chaos. But aside from some of that cheap bullsh*t,

theres a saying my martial arts master told me, “Luck Favors the prepared man.”

So if you hear about this place thats called Blighttown, you might consider finding or

buying gear and items that can counteract that some of the sh*t youd expect to see

in a place calledBlighttown”. Course there aint no gear that can counteract

that FRAMERATE. By preparing yourself with upgraded weapons,

leveling up, and a utility bag full of tricks is how you can conquer the game. And thats

something I really lovethe preparation you make BEFORE the next challenge, before

the next excursion. Combat is fluid, and heavily favors 1 on 1

encounters. Its slow and methodical. Attacks have long wind up times but to counteract

this, they have brutally punishing damage. A lot of games might have the illusion of

multiple enemies attacking you, but often times they only attack one at a time, and

act like mindless goons in the background. This is not the case with Dark Souls. Getting

surrounded is a surefire way of getting your ass handed to you and sent back to the Bonfire.

So playing smart, observing your surroundings, and trying to go for 1 on 1 fights is essential

to success. Lets talk about PvP. In the early days,

it took players a while to find out what weapons and builds were most effective against other

players. It sucks to say, but there are a lot of mechanics that can be abused in Dark

Souls PvP. Ive run up against so many cheesy one-shot, glass cannon sorcery builds in this

game. Thats no fun. Thats no fun going up against that every single invasion.

And for one, if you stock up on humanity, you can exploit that to pretty much heal indefinitely.

Theres a lot of cheese tactics, and Ive been the victim of some VERY questionable

backstabs and hitboxes. Like how the f*ck did this arrow hit me? Are you serious?!

This was mostly forgivable in the original Dark Souls, but in the remastered version,

so many of these exploits werent fixed! See this video by Inferno Plus for a full

breakdown on these bugs because it highlights the problems with the PvP perfectly. But those

moments when you get into a long-winded battle and both decide to drain your estus and duel

to the death, those are magical moments. One of the greatest things about this system are

the benevolent invaders. People who invade you, with the apparent intention to kill you

and pilfer your humanity, but turn out to give you nice items and black crystal out.

I once had a guy invade me in Blighttown while I was dying by those toxic bastards, I had

barely enough HP to survive it with no estus left. When the invader approached me I showed

him I was out of estus and while I was going through the menus to drop a humanity for him

so he wouldnt have to kill me, he dropped a twin humanity for ME and then black crystaled

out. That type of kindness in such a cruel, harsh world, can really bring warmth to your

heart and pick you up when youre down. Theres a lot of nuances to the PvP system,

too many to go into. But being able to help or hinder the progress of others is an awesome

idea! Just as your Estus Flask has a lore-related reason for being in the game, so too does

the Multiplayer. “We are amidst strange beings in a strange

land. The flow of time itself is convoluted; with heroes centuries old phasing in and out.

The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure. Theres no telling how much

longer your world and mine will remain in contact.”

This statement by Solaire is a perfectly vague explanation. Do the summon signs and invasions

send you back or forward in time? Do they send you to an identical world with a different

chosen Undead? Theres no concrete reason behind it, but its safe to say without

the multiplayer component and this description from Solaire, Dark Souls would lose a lot

of its magic. This is a journey where you dont have to

go alone. You can share it with others, both good and evil. Other players can leave their

summon signs, or messages and depending on the player, they may be trying to help, hinder

your progress, or send you off a cliff. The gameplay overall is fantastic and unique,

offering limitless possibilities for experimentation and builds, and the PvP is there to not only

enhance the experience but to build up the world of Lordran and offer great gameplay

opportunities if you ever get bored of fighting the AI. But whats the first thing that

comes to mind when you think of Dark Souls? Thats right! Its the mothaf*cking bosses!

Come on slam and welcome to the slam! Come on and slam if you want to jam!”

A classic staple of video games and the big highlights of Dark Souls. Id go so far

as to say that Dark Souls revolutionized difficulty in the mainstreams view, because MOST of

the bosses are so perfectly designed. Theyre all huge and epic, they intimidate and make

us feel tiny. And even ones like Pinwheel that are SUPER easy or the Bed of Chaos that

are cheap as hell, all these bosses offer value in either gameplay, challenge, lore,

atmosphere or all of the above. The first time going up against each one of these bad

boys, I can safely say I died against all but Gwyndolin, Pinwheel, and the Demon Firesage.

The bosses evolve as you progress and this is demonstrated in 3 fights in particular.

Stage 1 is the Asylum Demon, your introduction to bosses. This fatty is here to teach you

the mechanics of these fights, and use your surroundings to your advantage. Stage 2 Bell

Gargoyles show the player that not every fight will be straightforward, and it gives you

a taste of a boss with more than one enemy. Finally the famous Ornstein & Smough battle

is Stage 3 these guys attacks compliment each other perfectly and they attack in unison.

They are what separates the wheat from the chaff. This is the point that you get the

Lordvessel in the story to discover your destiny, and if you can beat these two bad boys you

have what it takes to beat the game. Everything you experience through these 3

key bosses, are the lessons you need to know to complete Dark Souls.

Probably my favorite boss fight in the entire souls series is the 4 Kings. Because as far

as I can remember its the only arena that can kill you instantly and it is scary as

f*ck. This is the most stressful fight in the game because the Kings are not only challenging,

have high HP, deadly ranged and close up attacks, but theres more than one of them! Their

swords are so big they swing around behind them! I mean, the pressure to take out one

king before the next one shows up as fast as possible is unlike any other pressure or

stress Ive felt in a video game. The utter blackness makes it hard to gauge how far away

the Kings are. You have absolutely no cover to hide behind and those homing bullets track

you for like 15 seconds! Its so exhilarating! The 4 Kings perfectly illustrate a well-designed

fight in every way.

Now, because players will play through using different builds, the difficulty of the bosses

can vary. For instance, in my first playthrough I beat O & S on my 2nd try, no lie. You know

how Im not lying? Because I died to both of these Hydras at least 15 times. I just

could not get the fight down for the life of me, Id either get shot by those spitballs

or fall to my death. Going through it now, theyre a piece of cake but my 1st time?

Good lordEvery single boss in the game brings something

new and different to the table. Yeah theres a couple stinkers like the Demon Firesage,

but overall they bring a whole new level of terror and fear to an already hostile world.

In my opinion, there are some games that SHOULD be played a certain way to get the most out

of them. To tie into my earlier point about how Dark Souls makes you curious. The best

playthrough, is your first one, because you have no idea whats around the cornerwhat

to expect. This is why I think watching guides or gameplay before you play the game yourself,

is a cardinal sin. You shouldnt do that because half the fun is discovering things

on your own and getting your ass whooped. Not many games give players such an extraordinary

urge to explore and make it so dangerous at the same time. Its not even just the enemies

you have to look out for. Gravity has killed me more times than any single boss. And if

you head into the wrong direction early in the game, youll likely get butt f*cked

by skeletons or ghosts. But if you knew where to go beforehand because you looked it up,

youre forfeiting part of the experience for convenience. And heres another thing,

finding which areas f*ck you up and which ones dont makes you want to get stronger

so you can go back to those areas. The temptation of new weapons, souls, plunder and pillage

is much too hard for adventurous gamers like us to refuse.

Thats the enticing part of Dark Souls, combined with the healing system, theres

a risk/reward scenario. I mean, perhaps youre down to 2 chugs of that sweet sunny d, but

you feel close to a bonfire or special treasure. Do you risk death, your souls, and humanity

to press on? Or do you turn back, play it safe and try again? These decisions you make

throughout the game are CRUCIAL! Which bonfires you kindle, if youve got humanity to spare,

youve gotta scrounge and collect everything you possibly can to be prepared. Thank god

theres no limitations on your inventory. Every choice made by the player can have its

rewards and consequences. What separates Dark Souls from many other games is nobody is essential;

the game doesnt have any arbitrary barriers on who you can and cant kill. Some NPCs

will encourage you to help them, while others will try to send you on the path of bloodshed.

Most fools have more humanity than they know what to do with. Now, who do you imagine

will make the best use of it, hmm?” You could say theres even a morality system

built into the game, but its not measured with some arbitrary number, its your own

moral compass. When it comes to level design, art style and

feeling of the different areas, Dark Souls is perfection, if not the closest thing to

it. Firelink Shrine is a great hub area that leads to the following locations: Undead Parish,

Undead Burg, Catacombs, New Londo Ruins, Valley of the Drakes, Blighttown and the Undead Asylum.

Thats 7 freaking locations accessible after the tutorial, (if you picked the master key).

Remember how I talked about connection? The same thing applies here. Thats freedom,

thats choice, and yeah many of those areas are tough early on, but theres nothing

stopping you from going there anyways! One fan favorite technique is to go through the

Catacombs and kill Pinwheel early on so you can get the Right of Kindling.

Having a series of complicated paths, shortcuts, secret areas, and hidden bonfires like this

can make it difficult to remember where you are and where you need to go, but its like

knowing the area around your house, and once you know, you never forget. You realize this

type of connected level design is very beneficial to the games experience.

The designers want you to understand which paths lead where, and memorizing them will

make your life easier. I want to emphasize that Dark Souls, in every aspect of its

design, rewards the intelligent player. The attentive player. And because the world of

Dark Souls can immerse so well with its scenery, the gameplay can immerse you on the

same level. This might be somewhat controversial but having

the ability to warp between bonfires was something I thought you had to earn. Giving that tool

to the player right after the first boss might be convenient but doing that risks losing

one of the greatest parts of this game: a connected world that feels real.

Each area offers new different obstacles for the player to overcome, but every one of them

shares a similarity. Gravity is a f*cking bitch. Crystal Caves forces you to be attentive

or guess what happens? Luckily, and youll find this good game design in every corner

of Dark Souls, the player can grab these Prism Stones on the way and use them to get through.

Tomb of The Giants puts you in utter darkness forcing you to sacrifice your shield for a

light source or your helmet. Lost Izalith and Demon Ruins have large patches of lava.

New Londo Ruins throws a bunch of ghosts at you that appear from above, below, and can

move through walls. The enemies you face arent the only things hostile to player, the environment

is too. Good olSens Fortress and of course the Abyss.

From Software got very creative with all the different ways they could kill you in this

game and thats something I appreciate.

And as I keep reiterating, Dark Souls is very unorthodox in almost every way. And with the

use of mods and thanks to Shesez (sorry if I said your name wrong) we can actually see

how detailed the world is beyond the normal boundaries.

Out of all the episodes that Ive done of boundary break Ive never seen so much

detail to a set of buildings that were off in the distance.”

Most games will have very low quality rendering on the stuff thats in the background, places

you cant even access. Thats to save on memory, but Miyazaki doesnt give a F*CK!

He wants immersion, DAMNIT! And he got it. Dark Souls puts so much effort into the backgrounds,

just to make you feel immersed. And another thing that kind of blows my mind is Dark Souls

doesnt stop the gameplay to load in a new area, it does it seamlessly, for the most

part. Thats an extremely underrated achievement because the necessity for a video game to

load something, doesnt disrupt the experience like you would expect it to.

What Dark Souls also offers is a sense of scale, subtle grandiosity (thats a great

word to know!) For example, when you arrive at Firelink Shrine, you can see 3 more areas

that are inaccessible, so add that to the other 7 areas I mentioned. You can see Anor

Londo way the f*ck up there, and what I think is the Grand Archives, and you can also see

The Great Hollow. Being able to look at something way the f*ck off in the distance, get there

and look back at where you were, is absolutely amazing. This is what makes Dark Souls feel

EPIC! It feels like a real world! That you dont have to watch a movie or a tv show

or read a book to experience it, you get to run around on your own; you have control.

Getting an idea of how large these vast kingdoms are, and how small of a speck the Chosen Undead

is in all of it. Even when youre down in 15fps-town, these

huge arches exist! You can see the swampy ground below you! If you think about it, Blighttown

is just a massive f*cking sewer! And can we just take a moment to appreciate the coolest

area in all of video games? Ash Lake. The first time I discovered this area, after braving

the curses in the Great Hollow, I was blown away. Staring at the endless sea, the massive

trees around you, and thinkingmaybe each one of those trees connects to a world just

as massive as Lordran…. You might also think theres a lot of unnecessary

climbing and running in Dark Souls, but noyoure wrong. Taking that long ass stroll

to the last surviving ancient dragon is just epic. When you run down that path youve

got 2 whole minutes to think about what lies beyond.

The interconnectivity of all the levels of Dark Souls is something From Software has

tried to replicate for years. The first time going through Lordran, one of the most beautiful

things about it was imagining what this place was like in its prime, before it was devastated.

But now every Souls game after that has done the same thing, thrust the player into a land

thats gone to sh*t. And its just not as fascinating the 4th time around.

I think Dark Souls 1 really was lightning caught in a bottle, the atmosphere, look and

feel of these places is iconic, beautiful, serene, and will be remembered above the rest

when all else as turned to dark.

So lets switch gears here. The Characters in Dark Souls are very important because theyre

the main road through which the game delivers its narrative. Primarily with NPC dialogue,

which is optional, item descriptions, which are also optional, and the environments which

are optional to pay attention to. The best choice that Dark Souls gives the player is

whether or not you give a sh*t. Most games will force cutscenes upon you and thats

all well and good but sometimes you just dont wanna be forced to give a sh*t. Theres

no dialogue heavy scenes and most of the characters you hear about throughout the game dont

even speak to you. “Be gone with you. Youll spoil my focus.”

Artorias and Sif are the two prime examples of how powerful the storytelling is. Ive

hardly ever seen such an emotional connection between fans and characters who never actually

say a word for themselves. It goes to show that sometimes the best stories are told with

fewer words. The world of Lordran carries a very dreary,

depressing atmosphere most of the time, part of that is the feeling of hopelessness just

from the insurmountable challenge youre posed with. And the other part is how Every

NPC represents something about this universe; a land far off, an infested town below, a

jolly realm of knights. All of them have survived this long in a world plunged into chaos, and

theyve all been negatively affected by it. Each one of them tries to carve out meaning,

life and sanity for themselves and you witness that.

Just like the story, many of the characters and their questlines are far out of sight

from the normal player. The world lives on around Firelink Shrine as you progress through

the game. Characters move to and fro, some never return, others can be found amidst a

grim fate. But they all have their own agendas, some try to gather souls through selling merchandise,

others are content to wait it out. Characters have relationships with the other

inhabitants of Lordran, they might hate, love, or serve one another.

Have you heard ofTHE HIGH ELVES?” “-Trusty Patches? If ever a man has rubbed

me up the wrong way, ugh!” “Here, have you met that backwoods Shiva?

Believe me on this one, my loveThe man is trouble. I can see it in his eyes. I just

can. Hmph, no doubt about it. Watch him.” Doesnt this all make for a much more interesting

world than a stagnant hub area disconnected from the rest of the game, where people show

up, rarely leave and nothing really changes? Yeah I thought so.

The beauty of Dark Souls is everybody in this world is at risk of going hollow, everyone

knows about this and it is something to be feared. When talking to most NPCs theyll

encourage you to press on, and to avoid becoming a hollow.

Dont get yourself killed. Neither of us want to see you go Hollow.”

its safe here. I cant bear the thought of going Hollow out there.”

Goodbye then. Be safe, friend. Dont you dare go Hollow.”

Oh hello. Terrific to see us both in one piece. And pray that you never go Hollow!”

Voice acting in this game is phenomenal, I think we all remember the gung-ho voice of

Siegmayer of Catarina, or the luminous and friendly words of Solaire.

You really are fond of chatting with me, arent you? If I didnt know better, Id

think you had feelings for me! Oh, no, dear me. Pretend you didnt hear that!”

Or the deep, imposing yet compassionate conversations we had with Gouph.

Good, good. What is bravery, without a dash of recklessness! Ive taken a liking

to thee.” But To go back to the hopeless and depressing

tone of Dark Souls, whats brilliant about the game is how The Chosen Undead could easily

be interpreted as the villain in all of this. You kill Qualaag in order to get to the second

bell, not knowing her motivations to get enough humanity to heal her dying sister. You only

realize this after the fact. You help Siegmayer at every turn, robbing him of the adventure

he so desperately craves, making him feel worthless and he hollows on a last adventure.

By learning all the spells from Logan and Griggs, they have nothing more to teach and

in a desperate search for my knowledge they lose their sanity in the Dukes Archives.

If you show a chaos pyromancy to Laurentius, hes so enthralled by its power he goes

to blighttown to seek it out, but he cant see Quelana and his mad search for powerful

pyromancy ends up making him go hollow. Youre forced to fight Sif, whos motivations,

just like Qualaag, are not understood. Sif wants to protect you from the abyss, and you

killed him for it. The Primordial Serpents, Kaathe and Frampt

are such bizarre creatures. Theyre like these cartoony, mystical serpents that appear

to be manipulating the events of the game. You cant kill them, its like they feel

all-powerful in a world thats losing its power, which makes them all the more cool.

One of my favorite characters is the Crestfallen Warrior. When you first arrive at Firelink,

he taunts you, tells you the prophecy is hopelessyoure doomed to die. The Crestfallen

Warriors only goal was to sit at the shrine and berate all the undead who show up. Heroes

come and go at Firelink, but he remains. He does give you helpful information and tips,

no doubt things hes picked up from other travelers or in his own journey, and that

brings him satisfaction. He keeps you up to date on whats happening at the shrine. And

when you ring the 2nd bell to reveal you are the chosen undead, Frampt appears who guides

you from there. The Crestfallen warrior becomes obsolete. There arent any noobies for him

to give tips to. His purpose is lost and he becomes hollow.

This melancholy tone is exemplified perfectly in Solaire, a fan favorite character for good

reason. Hes the most optimistic person in Lordran, and by helping him find his sun,

he loses his sanity and youre forced to kill him. Happy endings are rare in Dark Souls,

and thats what makes it so special.

So what do you find at the end of your journey? After escaping the Asylum, fighting through

the Undead Burg, locating the bell in the Undead Parish, braving the depths, trudging

through poison infested Blighttown, traversing the treacherous Great Hollow Tree, discovering

the forbidden Ash Lake, scaling the deadly Sens Fortress, after basking in the light

of Anor Londo, warping to the Painted World of Ariamis, getting lost in the Darkroot Garden,

witnessing the dark descend upon Oolacile, sneaking through the New Londo Ruins, passing

the tainted knowledge of the Dukes Archives, trekking through the lava-stricken Demon Ruins,

marching into Lost Izalith, after advancing beyond the catacombs, staving off the dark

in the Tomb of the Giants, and arriving at the Kiln of the First Flame.

After defeating the mightiest creatures in Lordran what do you find beyond the door you

worked so hard to get to? Ashand a fading flame.

You enter the Kiln and find not a man, nor a god, but a hollow. A once mighty Lord whos

time has finally run out. A Lord with nothing left but to defend the flame he cherishes

so much. So its come to this? A duel for the ages.

I wouldnt have it any other way. And after delivering the final blow, do you

save Lordran? Do you deliver it to the dark? Do you find any answers?

Probably not. But you feel something. The words youd use to define what just experienced

in the world of Dark Souls, are on the tip of your tongue. You cant say it, but I

think I know: a masterpiece.

The Description of Why Is Dark Souls 1 A Masterpiece?!