Recontextualization

In one of his many excellent videos, illusory wall proposes a “design trick” that the developers at FromSoftware, or at least Game Director Hidetaka Miyazaki, employ for narrative and worldbuilding purposes, albeit rarely. While even he struggles to define it, the basic concept is that certain things, such as items, are actually something other than […]

Internal Naming

While we are almost always introduced to the name of each area we enter, the official names for allies and enemies alike are commonly only listed in external sources like official guides or artbooks. However, characters and areas both typically have their own labels within the actual game files, and these internal names can be […]

A World Divided

From the first moment they materialize out of the fog in the original Dark Souls (DS1) opening cinematic, the archtrees have become somewhat iconic. Giant trees towering over all else certainly leaves an impression, and there is a certain mystique to their portrayal across the franchise. But this doesn’t mean that they are anything less […]

Artistic License

Safe from their perch, the channelers harass us with soul arrows cast from their tridents, but take that sorcery catalyst for yourself and you are only lugging around an ordinary pole arm — such is the divide between gameplay versus lore. While developers try their best to make us forget during the experience, we are […]

Defining God

What constitutes a god? Demon’s Souls presents a cornucopia of perspectives, all of which somehow tie back to the soul and magic. However, the most prominent God is heavily rooted in the Judeo-Christian conception. Not so with Dark Souls. There, divinity draws inspiration mainly from polytheistic mythologies. The “gods” — almost exclusively shorthand for the […]

Environmental Storytelling

You run the gauntlet of Sen’s Fortress, dodging shadowy traps — only to get knocked down into the tar pits below, by a scythe. Seeing that all-too-familiar white light flaring in the distance, you slowly wade your way over. Loot the corpse, and, lo and behold, you found the scythe. Dark Souls (DS1) is filled […]

New Game+

Put simply, I generally do not factor New Game+ (NG+) into my analyses. Not because it lacks any informational value, but because that value is, for the most part, superfluous. NG+ is a means for players to replay the game with a familiar yet fresh experience, and any changes made to that end are almost […]

Cut Content

I don’t blame anyone for knee-jerk skepticism with regards to cut content. It is by its very nature unused, never to be seen by design, and the reasons are commonly because they are relics of the development process. As Game Director Hidetaka Miyazaki relates in the Dark Souls: Design Works interview, Andre was originally planned […]