Every form of art has its own pillars. Works that have contributed to the evolution of the media in which they were created. In gaming, Dark Souls is one of them.

Released in 2011, this Action RPG title with a dark-fantasy setting is the first chapter of an epic trilogy. The Japanese software house FromSoftware developed this title under the careful supervision of its brilliant author, Hidetaka Miyazaki.

Heir to the already winning predecessor Demon’s Souls (back in the limelight in the recent remake for PlayStation 5), Dark Souls takes back the mechanics and atmosphere setting them permanently in the Olympus of video games. Just a few days ago Dark Souls has been crowned the best video game of all time at the Golden Joystick Awards 2021

The birth of a myth

Dark Souls is a game with a strong authorial imprint, which makes it definable as an experience rather than a simple video game in the classic meaning of the term. This is due to its strong narrative power and mythology, even if a real plot seems to be missing. Since the beginning, the game abandons the player in a cold and gloomy world without any explanation. Every character encountered speaks cryptically or mendaciously.

It is under this Lovecraftian premise that the author shows his real goals. The gamers community has to find the meaning to the deliberately elusive story. This silent narrative is brought to the climax and finale. Players have to interact with each other, contributing to creating true mythology around this title.

A game that spares no one

This multiform work became in a short time a revolutionary title for the entire gaming community. The gameplay is solid and fulfilling, supported by a combat system that paved the way for subsequent games.

The level design studied in detail allows the player a total immersion in the game from the opening minutes. The memorable Boss fights offer a high degree of challenge, making every victory a real conquest. In Dark Souls there are no shortcuts: sweat and training are the keywords. But the difficulty is not the “purpose” of the game. It is a consequence of the world-building and how the language form of Miyazaki’s work was built.

Miyazaki uses the power of storytelling to create a minimal story in form but with immense content; it summarizes the essence of art, just as the fantasy book author Richard Scott Bakker wrote in his novel The darkness that comes before:

”It’s the darkness from which one comes that pushes us to explore”.

So it is for the whole game experience. From understanding what is the lore that lies behind every character to studying a winning strategy to defeat a Boss, Dark Souls is a never-ending exploration.

This perfect union of an engaging gaming experience combined with an original artistic direction allowed Hidetaka Miyazaki’s work to achieve one of the most wanted goals for any author; an adjective specifically coined to define a new particular category of video games, the Soulslike.