The Selfless Truth Behind Dark Souls 2

 

The Queen Nashandra in her final form with the Kiln of the First Flame behind her.

The RPG game Dark Souls 2 holds the premises for the bleak meaning behind human nature. Through NPC dialogue, item descriptions and appearance, and geographic clues The Chosen Undead is sent on a mission by Queen Nashandra to relight the Kiln of the First Flame to save humanity. Dark Souls 2 takes place in a world where a mysterious curse has released that when you die, you are turned into an undead soul that loses all memories of your human life and leaves you as nothing but a wandering empty shell. The Chosen Undead is your character whom is nameless and has been chosen (like many others over the past centuries) to relight the Kiln of the First Flame to end the curse until the flame burns out again. But, in order to reach the flame you must defeat many creatures and get through the obstacles to the flame created by the King Vendrick, whom you later learned created the obstacles to prevent the Queen from accessing and destroying the Kiln so that she may forever rule the undead unopposed.

 

The King Vendrick in his shell form after self sacrifice

The game has a deeper undertone of human selfishness and selflessness. King Vendrick after centuries of conquering and blind selfish acts to gain more power and control over his kingdom learns that the curse has befallen the kingdom because of the Queen. He then dedicates his life to preventing her from reaching the flame and destroying all hope of escaping the curse by sacrificing his life and allowing himself to become a shell protecting the key to the Kiln. His self-sacrifice leads to a glimmer of hope and chance for the success of the Chosen Undead to reach the Kiln before the Queen and reignite the flame, restoring humanity to peace. For you (The Chosen Undead) to win the game you must sacrifice yourself to the Kiln and your soul will reignite the flame. Providing a story that the only true way to win is through self-sacrifice in order to save humanity and give the chance for a new Chosen Undead to be born with the next death of the flame and sacrifice himself for the lives of many. In most stories and games the hero wins by killing and defeating the villain and surviving on to continue protecting the weak. Here, a more realistic approach is taken, some of the most celebrated and strongest heroes of history are not the ones that fought and survived but the ones that fought to give up their own lives for others. After the hero has fallen, the hope is for their actions to resonate through the future to encourage and create more heroes like them who will sacrifice their lives to save humanity again.

While it is the goal of the Chosen Undead to sacrifice themselves, the game shows off the grim reality that most humans are selfish and will only use the decline of humanity and the powers entrusted to them as a means to gain more power. The King in his diving efforts trusted four people with the power to reopen the kiln that holds the flame. Each with their unique power were corrupted and in turn abused their power for their own means. The Old Iron King took his power over fire and made a kingdom that would rival that of Venderiks, however it could not support its own weight and collapsed into the lava under the mountain which it was built. The Duke Aldia took the power with the attempt to recreate an ancient dragon, successful in his misguided attempts; he accidentally trapped his own soul in his creation. The Rotten, a nameless character with no background, took his power and went to the land of the undead that have been cast aside. It is there that he takes the scraps of the discarded shells of humanity that still linger there and claim them as his own forever chaining him to the depths of the gutter. The Lost Sinner, with her power to control fire, has sought out to retake the flame for herself. She wished to remove the fire from the kiln and embrace it as her own, strengthening her power. However, in doing so, she was branded a sinner and thrown at the bottom of The Lost Vestile to rot for all eternity.  By abusing the power that was entrusted in them to help keep the world safe until the Chosen Undead may relight the flame, they all suffered a horrible fate akin to how they abused their power. The themes and motifs of this game seen through these four major bosses, show that when humans are given a great responsibility and power to go with it, not all make the choice that serves a greater purpose than their own desires. Through this, the game provides a moral story for the player to learn from that selfishness will only lead to punishment whether it is in this life or the next.

The Gutter where The Rotten Resides

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