dark souls

[Here be spoilers, but mostly for Demon’s Souls and the original Dark Souls. Dark Souls II gets a lighter discussion.]

The warriors who entered Boletaria’s fog couldn’t find their way back out, and you’re just one of many to end up trapped there. It’s fitting to bump up against the edges of your cage. Demon’s Souls is self-contained and claustrophobic, with no true escape regardless of the choices you make or how far you progress. You can defeat the world’s demons. You can try to help people, or take on assassination contracts and start picking them off one by one. You might eventually gain an amazing amount of power but you’ll still be bound to the Nexus, constantly returning to this hub in an unbreakable cycle. It’s a sanctuary for many, creating rest and safety at the eye of the storm, but also a prison.

27
Jul
2012

My Life as a Sunbro

Posted by Cha

I completely avoided true multiplayer in Demon's Souls, but adored the online elements anyway. There was a fantastic feeling of shared struggle whenever I caught a glimpse of another player's ghostly form. As a solo adventurer the limited interaction actually emphasised the sense of loneliness. Our worlds were linked and we were pursuing the same goals, but there was a wide gap between us. We couldn't communicate directly, but I learnt lessons from their spilled blood and found safe places, shortcuts, and hidden treasure thanks to their scrawled messages.

No community is perfect, and I couldn't completely trust other players. There certainly were misleading messages tempting me to fall to my death. But on balance Demon's Souls players were more helpful than harmful.

11
Nov
2011

Introductory Souls

Posted by Cha

In Dark Souls and Demon's Souls stories emerge naturally from the environment, or from scattered information. It's a puzzle with many pieces missing, but there's enough information to see the basic image. Occasionally, a small revelation will make me smile or gasp. A few lines of dialogue have more impact than I've seen in half-hour cutscenes elsewhere.

The Souls games are beautiful examples of organic and restrained storytelling. There's room to discover my own sense of the world, but still plenty of scripted elements. Finding information in a natural way lets me feel the story instead of just understand it.