Dark Souls: What the Bonfire Says about Humanity

Dark Souls sounds pretty dark, so dark that my non-gaming friend asked me why I play such a satanic game. Her question made me probe about my obsession with it. So I googled Dark Souls content on the internet. What was the result that stood out to me the most? The word masochist. In fact I didn’t know that word exist. Dark Souls players are masochists. According to Google dictionary, masochist is

a person who derives sexual gratification from their own pain or humiliation.”the roles of masochist and mistress (in general use) a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.”

Feeling self-conscious about myself, I begin to ponder about my true nature as a human being. So I start to reflect on what Dark Souls really mean?

From Dark Souls prologue, we know that fire gives life, but “from the dark they came and found the souls within the flame.” Whatever this darkness is, it causes something to ignite within the life form–which drives living things to action and eventually to madness. So to prevent going Hollow (cold), players have to reach to the bonfire. The game design is very addictive. So addictive that I couldn’t play any other games for a long while. I was possessed by the satanic game!

If you look at the bonfire closely, it is not just a mere bonfire. A sword thrusts into the flames of the human ash. This implies the continuous cycle of life and death. A place for the souls to resurrect. Once a player dies, they come back alive at the bonfire. Think bonfire as a home–where you rest and prepare yourself for tomorrow’s battle.

All undeads, including you as the player, are naturally attracted to the flames because that is where you came to exist. Going without flame for too long, you will die and eventually lose your humanity. The result is Hollow. I like to think Hollows as corrupted politicians. I think every politician started out with good intention, but the more power he/she has, the more abuse he/she can do without having remorse.

So time again and again, you’d hear the phrase: “May the Flames Guide Thee” in the game. It is a reminder to the undead to cling onto the warmth within them. By doing so, the bonfires are not just checkpoints to meet the final destination. The bonfires play a significant role in the story because they are “corporeal manifestation” of each Fire keepers’ soul, the protector of life. She attends to the bonfire, protecting the flame from dying so that the player does not “gradually loses his humanity, until his wits degrade completely (Lucatiel’s quote from Dark Souls II).”

So this brought me to the question: Am I a masochist for liking Dark Souls? The answer is no, but I can be corruptible–in fact everyone can. The Souls series is like a video game bible. It preaches its story through the gaming mechanics. That’s why players eventually turn into ugly skeletons. I remember when I created my character, I want it to look beautiful, but then I quit caring about my appearance when I kept turning ugly! I then turn all of my attention to reaching the next bonfire at all cost. I was literally in fact, on my way to turning Hollow (mad).

You might think it’s all dark, but the ability to grasp that one can lose sight of what it truly means to live, means that there is also a lot of warmth in this game. It wants to teach us how to think. That’s why I enjoyed this game a lot.

DARK SOULS™ II: Scholar of the First Sin

Civilizations rise then fall and fire begins it all. We are built with an understanding and respect for the needs of every human beings. That is humanity. I think this is the reason why the Greek god Zeus, protector of guests, favors hosts that provide good hospitality. To be human is to offer warmth. Without warmth, the flame, we are dead both physically and mentally.  And according to an item description in Dark Souls, “the soul is the source of life and whether Undead or even Hollow, one continues to seek them.” What are we without the soul? We cease to exit. So yes, the game is about dark souls. We kill others for their humanity until there is no point of return. We kill others to survive. No wonder my friend called it a satanic game.

If you enjoy this post, please check out my other Souls posts from this blog. I had fun writing them and thank you for reading!

Dark Souls: What I Learned About Ash Lake and the Sexual Creatures

Dark Souls: Exploring Is an Achievement

Dark Souls: Exploring Is An Achievement

Normally, I dislike traveling in games because it seems rather pointless, but Dark Souls knows exactly how to design stages and build the perfect momentum to control the pacing of the player. Exploration serves as a preparation for the next boss fight.

After I defeated the Gaping Dragon, I spoke to the NPC, bought a Crystal Straight Sword from him. That sword helped me clear the beginning of Blighttown, until it was on the risk of breaking. In that area, I slipped and fell several times, but it wasn’t all that bad. By mistake, I fell down with the creature onto a ledge; from there I found myself a whip. Although it didn’t do much damage, so I had no choice but to use the Drake Sword and hack my way down to the bottom of that treacherous town, built on steep cliff. Eventually, I fell into the poisonous swamp as the narrowed path made it hard for me to swing and attack the Cragspiders.

Dark Souls Blight Town

I don’t have the right stats so I was easily poisoned. I clumsily rolled on the sticky swamp, hacking my sword at every one of those giant-sucking mosquitoes that spit out a bucket of blood. They come in pairs. What a pest. Somehow, I managed to roll myself in that disgusting filth and found myself some good items, but at the expense of encountering scaly snake-like big leeches. They are so gross looking. I hurriedly found an escape from those leeches by stumbling into an opening of a tree trunk, which led me to The Great Hollow, one of my favorite areas in the game because I love trees!

DARK SOULS

Have you ever been on a tall slide in a shape of an “S”? When I was a kid, I used to beg my parents to take my brothers and me to the neighborhood’s slide. It’s a lot of fun going down the slide. The Great Hollow reminds me of that slide, except you don’t slide, you drop below onto each branch, until you hit the bottom. Certain branches have shiny items that appear attainable, but at the same time out of reach. Most of items are materials for weapon/armor upgrade. I died several times, slipping off the branches thinking that I am so close to grabbing one. When I looked at the time, I realized I was spending about an hour or two in the area, trying to collect all the items.

Apart from falling off the branch because I misplaced my foot, I also had to face the big yellowish, orange bulging-eyes basilisks. They are cute but ugly at the same time. It released black smoke which will curse you and reduce your life to half. So you got to be careful and stay out of the smoke. Once cursed, you’d need a purging stone to normalize yourself. I don’t bother killing them with my sword. Instead, I lured them so they will stupidly jump in the air and miss the ground and fall straight to the bottom.

As soon as I made my way near the bottom of The Great Hollow, I started to get hungry for pine mushroom soup as these little cute mushroom creatures toddled its way towards me. It’s not friendly as it appear because it attacked me. So I sliced it up with my sword. It squealed and died. Then appeared the mama and papa ( I assume because they were bigger in size). I should have known better to kill someone’s children. One punch from the giant mushroom was an instant death for me because my life bar was already halfway empty. It’s back to the bonfire. I had to make my way down again.

DARK SOULS

The more I think about the stages in the game, I had to climb down from that awful town and into the swamp to find an oasis. Out of this area is Ash Lake, a beautiful undersea-like world. Such a beautiful calming place. Exploring is a form of achievement. You never know what is at the end of that long, disgusting path that seem to never end. You will be rewarded greatly as soon you find a breath of fresh air. Likewise, I think of life the same way. There will be times you may feel uncomfortable and feel as if there is no end to your adversity, but there is. You just have to make the effort to get there. At least, this is the experience I got from Dark Souls.

Taking a rest at Dark Souls' Ash Lake

Now I don’t want to climb back to the Firelink Shrine or face Chaos Witch Quelaag. I just want to stay low underground far from human civilization with the Everlasting Dragon in Ash Lake. I have gotten so used to the solitary lifestyle of a solo traveler and I am a bit tired. For now, I’m going to curl up next to the dragon and shut my eyes because tomorrow will come another battle. Certainly, I cannot stay here for too long. Eventually, I have to report back to Quelaag as I am actually her apprentice, training to become a smoking-hot sadist. I’m just kidding!

P.S

There will be more Dark Souls content to come as I find this game to be an enjoyable pastime and a pleasure to write for this blog.