Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage: Dark Souls

So there is this guy who goes by the name “Mr. B. Tongue” or some such.  Gamers may be more familiar with with his brilliant analysis of why Mass Effect 3‘s ending sucked so bad.  Anywho, it was his claim to internet fame, and he has proven himself an exceptional critic and commentator on gaming and the industry.

I am so sorry, I’m spamming you with all these other video links and I haven’t even gotten to the article’s main point.  You don’t have to click on these links today if you don’t want to.  Their purpose here is reference.  I primarily want to waste your time with something else: the afore mentioned main point.


(Again, you’re not required to watch this video for the purposes of this article, though I do recommend it for your own enrichment–and you will be enriched by it.)

In this approximately nine minute video, he talks about video games as a Gesamtkuntswerk or “Total Work of Art” where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and removal of any part diminishes the whole.  Specifically with regards to the game Dark Souls.

There was something in particular that this guy says about the game:

The world of Dark Souls bears you no malice.  You don’t merit its malice; you’re not important enough.  This is a departure from most games where the player is presumed to be the most important person around.  Not here.  Here you’re just another doomed soul trying to stay alive for as along as possible in a dying world.

This got me thinking about something.  This is purely supposition.  I’ve never played this game, so I have no idea how the narrative plays out, but there is great potential within these thematic elements.  What if, despite all the players best efforts, nothing ever works out?  Nothing ever comes to fruition and no matter how hard we try throughout the story to save the fires of the world it all seems in vain.  The story starts with little or no hope and by the end you’re in the negative.  Then at that moment when defeat IS certain, the classic Eucatastrophe occurs and all is saved–that sudden, wondrous, unexpected event that changes everything for the better, that happened by Grace and you did not deserve.

I’ll say that again: that you did not deserve–that you yourself, for all the skill and power you may possess, did not bring about.

Y’know, I was about to write that in the end you ultimately don’t save the world (I say “Eucatastrophe,” thus implying salvation by the divine), and remain insignificant from beginning to end. But I think about that now: is that truly the case?  There is certainly a thematic consistency in that idea, but certainly you played your part–whatever its size–at least in the world’s salvation perhaps?  By use of Eucatastrophe, therefore implying the divine, and there implying further still that you have an important role because of the divine.  Is that really a thematic break?  Can the two themes coexist?

Anyway, it’s just my two cents.  I think it makes for excellent discussion.  There is great potential for a narrative such as this.

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3 Responses to Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage: Dark Souls

  1. Warstub says:

    You might be interested in how a number of critics view the ending of Dark Souls as well, because there is a great amount of obscurity in whether your decision (you only have two) saves the world or dooms the world. And you can never really know.

    It really is a great thematic idea, and I think it has relevance to Mass Effect 3 as well, regardless of the quality of how it’s done. It’s also, one of the things that MrBtongue admires about the The Witcher 2: you play as this (sort of) heroic character, but your choices, essentially, only affect yourself and those around you immediately; they don’t affect the”ultimate outcome” as such, though your decisions do change some things with regards to that outcome. In the end the world moves on no matter what you do.


    • thespecktre says:

      Sorry for the late reply–who knows if you’ll see this. That’s an interesting point comparing ME3 to DS with regards to how much power and control one really has.

      Another YouTube critic, Super Bunnyhop, also has a great, analytical video on Dark Souls and how its themes and mechanics go together. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it myself, so I may be mis-remembering, but I think the gist of the video was that the game relates to 1) unappreciated, hard work and 2) ultimately dying, and yet the world keeps on spinning.


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