Dark Souls

A brief respite, in a world of darkness


Ian Krasnodebski, Staff Writer

When I was younger, I used to play games constantly. (Not that I don’t anymore, just less than before.) One thing that was a common attribute for almost all the games I did play however, was that they didn’t have much of a challenge. I was tired of being at odds with people and schoolwork, and all I wanted was an escape from my life. I consistently shied away from difficult things, such as manual labor, sports, & competitions. I never wanted to be challenged. I’d always end up hurt, and, in the end, I could never handle it. So, while I sat idly by toiling in my schoolwork and games, I same across a game I’ve heard of, but never looked into: Dark Souls.  

The Dark Souls series is renowned worldwide for being a masterpiece in almost every regard, such as combat, narrative, music, and more. You are an undead warrior (Undead/Bearer of the Curse/Ashen One), tasked with linking yourself to the first flame which allows for the continuance of the current age. While on you journey, you encounter terrifying and demented creatures, people, and gods. However, all are but a shadow of their former selves in every regard. The landscape is hauntingly beautiful; full of gorgeous vistas that evoke a sense of melancholy, sadness, despair, and aversion. Yet, they can also make you feel nostalgia, comfort, and awe in the grand scope of everything. In parallel to the landscapes, the combat is known for being some of the must punishing, yet satisfying out of almost any game I’ve ever played. From learning the precise time you roll, take a swing, heal, etc., the combat has been perfected to a tee. While it is unforgiving, and quite brutal, if you decide to take time a learn how to overcome a boss, or any enemies move-set, the satisfaction and pleasure you receive is like none other.  

One of the core themes of Dark Souls, is the struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds. The time you take trying to get past one boss may take a couple minutes, hours, or even days, but you eventually understand that every death allows for learning. From how you can correct and anticipate their next move with ease the next time around, rather than give up completely. The games themselves actually provide a reason for why there are so many Hollows in the world. In short, hollows are those who have given up on life, completely loosing their sanity, and wallow out in despair. The more you die, its very easy to get annoyed, then your annoyance turns into anger, and leave the game. Some return, others, do not. And for those who don’t, they are now Hollow. They’ve given up. From most characters in the games, they say “Don’t you dare go Hollow.” Essentially, the game itself is telling you to never stop, and continue to push, struggle, and contend until you prevail.  

 Another key element is the musical score of the games. Every game’s soundtrack has songs that can make you feel emotion, even if you don’t know the story behind the characters it is for. For example, there was one I listened to for a boss that I had no idea what his story was, and what occurred to him. All I knew, was that he was the Old Ivory King, who went to war with a force that sought to destroy & corrupt the world. When listening to his song, I first felt terror, rage, and sorrow. From the choir screaming out in sorrow for the tragedy that befell the king. To the quiet, somber, moments of melancholy that allowed you to truly understand how he fell. Another great piece is of the Epilogue for Dark Souls III. At the end of the game, after you’ve killed the final boss, and the world is changed to whatever ending you’ve chosen, it plays as the credits roll. It consists of bells, a piano, some strings, and a woman singing. The woman, is singing as if in sorrow, and longing for a world now dead. It truly makes you feel as if you’ve witnessed the end of something great. Emotions such as melancholy, sorrow, and solace are the most prevalent throughout.  

All this, and more, culminates in the end of the games, especially in Dark Souls III, when you face off against the Soul of Cinder. The Soul of Cinder is a representation of all the previous Lords of Cinder, extremely skillful and strong beings, who linked to the first flame. When fighting him, his move-set varies from a strength build, mage build, faith based build, and finally, a pyromancy/curved sword build. Each of these move-sets represents different players, and their styles of fighting that allowed them to link the flame and allow for the continuance of the age. After draining his health bar, you believe you’ve finished the fight. Then suddenly, he lets out a huge burst of flames. Scorching the earth around him, and he stands proud with a theme that kicks in, that’s the exact same as Gwyn’s theme, from Dark Souls I. Gwyn was the God of Light, and Fire. He feared the dark, and all that stemmed from it. So, he decided to link humanity to the flame, ensuring that his age of fire could never fade. At the end of the first game when you fight Gwyn, he is the husk of a man, not a God. He’s been broken, by his own fears. A Hollow. Like all the rest that you’ve encountered before him. In that fight, its essentially a mercy kill. Now, when facing the Soul of Cinder, you fight against a truly powerful Gwyn. Reminiscent of his past self, kicking and not wanting to go quietly into the night. When I realized this, I started to tear up a bit, since the whole experience I went through, all the pain and struggle, finally coalesced into this moment, where it comes full circle. The man who started all the things that lead to the Golden Age of Humanity, has lead it to its downfall. It ends with him, just as it began. During this boss fight, I became enlightened. All the tragedy, all the despair, all of the betrayal, occurred for a reason. For you to rise, become stronger, and fix this broken world around you. Just as you can in real life, you must fight for your life. Fight for what you believe to be a better world.  

In conclusion, Dark Souls is akin to a bonfire. Warm, and illuminating the dark around you, helping you understand how to better yourself by accepting challenge, adversity, and all the negative that comes with it. Dark Souls can make you feel emotions you never though you could experience, and truly appreciate the indomitable human spirit.  


Links for the soundtracks, for those who wish to listen: Old Ivory King OST: https://youtu.be/oj-FC4OPhkU 

Soul of Cinder OST: https://youtu.be/ooCb7rwKfBI 

Epilogue of DS3: https://youtu.be/vqPTTSSsgs4