Dark Souls, the game released in 2011 by From Software, first for consoles and later for PC. The game famous for its vicious and punishing world. The game famous for its tendency to make players throw their controller down in anger, to never return again. Dark Souls is an absolute artistic masterpiece for these reasons and so many others.
The developers at From Software did such an excellent job at combining so many flavorful aspects of Dark Souls together to create something that in my opinion is unrivaled. The incredibly deep lore which caresses the world that players traverse in such a subtle manner, gives reason for hundreds, if not thousands of hours of exploration. The beautiful landscapes that players may gaze at, are varying and contrasting to one another, always keeping the inspiring and curious flames inside our heads enkindled. The way that the distant areas become out of focus and blurred, give off a mysterious feel to that area. The area may not be fully visible to me now, but what secrets are held there? What creatures are there to slay or co-operate with? Continuing, the beautifully designed characters of Dark Souls, whether they be lore based, NPC’s, or enemies to fight, are beautifully and carefully crafted, and the back stories to many of these characters compliments their physical appearance and apparent behaviour so well.’ The Great Grey Wolf Sif’ optional boss fight stands out to me here. This boss does not actually want to fight you. Instead, it is valiantly trying to stop you from proceeding to the dangerous ‘Abyss’ where his previous master met an uncanny fate. And so he fights you to attempt to ward you away. Jumping back to the lore, you can only discover this fact after carefully observing the lore of Dark Souls. You won’t be directly told these things, and so you the player must set out to discover them for yourself. This skilfully adds a layer of mystique to the Dark Souls world.
The word perspective runs through my mind when I think of Dark Souls. This is because the game teaches you to really look at situations carefully and to even empathize with people. In video games, we are usually the good guy fighting the bad guys and the evils of that universe. In Dark Souls, the line is effectively blurred in various cases. An excellent example of this is the boss fight ‘Pinwheel’. Pinwheel is a necromancer who’s wife and child tragically died. In his peak of loneliness and despair he attempted to bring them back to life through necromancy, however failed and instead created a grotesque fusion form of his wife and child. He tirelessly attempts to undo the damage but doesn’t manage to as you, the player and chosen undead, arrive in his home to end his life, as well as his research. Pinwheel did nothing to hurt the chosen dead, or anyone for that matter. He just wanted to fix his mistakes but in a cruel manner, you slay him. and his family. After learning the story behind pinwheel, the way I looked at Dark Souls changed forever. I realised the depth of the game I was playing.
One of my personal favourite aspects of Dark Souls is the soundtrack that accompanies the already excellent game. The tracks included range from aggressive and tense pieces of music which coincide with the heart rate raising boss fights, all the way to the likes of the Firelink Shrine piece as well as my personal favourite track, the character select theme which is a mellow track which calms and soothes all before being tossed into a world of torment and death. Dark Souls’ soundtrack is masterfully orchestrated and composed which for me is the very thick and flavourful icing on top of the cake.
All of the various fragments of Dark Souls which I have spoken about are excellent. However it is the graceful way that they are all fused together that create an artistic and cultural masterpiece, which for the rest of my life will continue to inspire and move me. Thank you Dark Souls, and thank you From Software.