The Dark Souls series became a legend throughout the past decade through its obscure gameplay and lore. All three games pit you against a brutal world full of mysteries where you’re left to figure out how to navigate it.
Because of the series’ complex gameplay, you’ll find plenty of guides explaining the right builds and strategies. But, what about advice on how to tackle the Dark Souls story? Famous lore masters like Vaati do a great job digging into in-game text and cutscenes, but you might want to explore the Dark Souls universe yourself.
In this guide, you’ll learn seven key facts that will give you the tools to become a Dark Souls lore expert yourself. Keep the following concepts in mind the next time you try to decipher a dialogue line or item description.
Due to the nature of this article, there will be spoilers for all three Dark Souls games.
1. The True Dark Souls Story Is Up to the Player
Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls and Dark Souls 3, has an official stance on how you interpret the series’ storyline — it’s up to you to make your own narrative. In a VG24/7 interview about Bloodborne, a sister game to Dark Souls, Miyazaki said that he has a perfect storyline in his head, but he doesn’t want to enforce it on the player.
“Only those storyline elements that actually make it into the game are something that I need to force players to accept as a base for building up their own interpretation of the world,” he explained.
In other words, Miyazaki wants you to build a story that only you can tell using the elements you find in-game.
2. Dark Souls 2 Plays a Unique Role in the Series’ Lore
Dark Souls 2 stands apart from the other two games in the series by having different directors and revealing some of the storyline’s most critical lore in its director’s cut.
If Dark Souls 2 gave you a different feel from the first and third games, it’s likely because it had different directors. While Hidetaka Miyazaki directed Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2, he gave the job to Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura for Dark Souls 2 while he worked on Bloodborne. As a result, Dark Souls 2 has more direct storytelling than the other games.
While the original Dark Souls 2 mainly builds on the lore from the original Dark Souls, it reframes the first game’s events in the Scholar of the First Sin director’s cut. The titular Scholar of the First Sin, Aldia, reveals that the gods caused the hollowing curse when they lit the First Flame that you try to rekindle in Dark Souls. Parts of Dark Souls implied that the gods didn’t have good intentions, but not that they outright sabotaged humanity.
3. The Dark Souls Series Has No Connection to Demon’s Souls
If you plan on scouring the upcoming Demon’s Souls remake for links to Dark Souls, you might want to hold off. Demon’s Souls may have “souls” in the title, but it doesn’t have a connection to the Dark Souls games.
Miyazaki refuted any theories linking Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls in a Japanese podcast translated by the Souls Lore Wiki. Any similarities between locations and characters are “just for fun,” as he puts it.
For example, Patches appears across Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls games, but Miyazaki added him because he wanted to put Patches in everything he made past Armored Core, not because Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls have the same lore.
4. Dark Souls 3’s The Ringed City DLC Turns the Lore on Its Head
Dark Souls establishes the series’ mythology and world, and Dark Souls 2 builds on Dark Souls’ foundation while giving you a new viewpoint. This sequence of events might give players who go through the series chronologically preconceived notions about Dark Souls 3 that stay consistent with the base game’s plot.
Then, the final Dark Souls story, Dark Souls 3’s The Ringed City DLC pulls the rug from under their feet. At the very last minute, it introduces details never mentioned in previous Dark Souls entries.
It turns out that Gwyn, one of the gods that established the Dark Souls world as we know it, has another daughter named Filianore. Filianore sleeps with an egg that maintains some sort of illusion over the Ringed City. Once you crack that egg, the world outside turns into a neverending desert, revealing the Pygmies you seek to retrieve the Dark Soul from.
If you know your Dark Souls lore up to that point, that last sentence might give you pause. Dark Souls introduced the Furtive Pygmy, whom Miyazaki confirmed was the first human. Yet, The Ringed City confirms the existence of multiple Pygmies, implying that they’re a different race from humans.
With these details about the world revealed at the very end of the Dark Souls series storyline, what else don’t we know about the gods and humanity?
5. Time Isn’t Always Linear
One of the most important hints to understanding the Dark Souls timeline is a single line in a sorcery description that you may never come across in your Dark Souls 3 playthrough.
“Light is time,” states the description for the Dark Souls 3 version of the Repair sorcery. With so much of the Dark Souls story focusing on the decline of Light in the world, how much of an effect does that phenomenon have on the passage of time?
The answer to this question may lie in the Untended Graves, an optional Dark Souls 3 location. This zone portrays the first two areas of the game in the Age of Dark, where the world is covered in darkness.
If you talk to the Shrine Handmaiden there before talking to the one at the main Firelink Shrine, the latter will recognize you, implying that the Untended Graves show the past. Did the Dark in the Untended Graves let you travel to the past? Besides the first game’s DLC, do any other zones actually happen in different time periods?
I hope these frameworks and lore tidbits will inspire you to find new ways to look at Dark Souls lore. It’s always exciting when you realize how and why this series’ stores resonate with you. Did you find out anything new about Dark Souls lore? Tell Prima Games on their Facebook and Twitter channels!