This post will be a bit different. In that I will honestly just be talking to myself, trying to understand the plot of Dark Souls 2. I was anticipating this game since last year, finally got it before the summer and even more finally beat it a few weeks ago.  The Souls series is known for having very a difficult to understand story that is told for the most part, indirectly. Sure, there are NPCs that talk but not in a traditional sense where there’s a pre-rendered  cutscene  where the camera pans and the music swells under the important parts of the speech. There are a lot of unreliable narrators across the games, and merchants who tell you where they come from and why they’re there. A lot of the  story is told via item descriptions. Just as important as what the item says is where you find the item. The corpses you find in a lab? Probably experimented on in by some whack job. Religious garb found near the entrance of a dark deity of death? Maybe…that church had some back alley bargains going on that its constituents didn’t know about.

I write all that to say, despite all the confusion I am about to display I know *how* to understand the plot of a Souls game. But I seem to just have huge gaps in the story of this one.

My issues with the Dark Souls 2 story pop up right at the beginning of the game. You begin the game with a super generic Undead, after seeing them jump off a cliff to their apparent re-doom? You wake up in an area called Things Betwixt and are eventually asked if you remember who you are. That question leads to the class choosing and character creation screens that are common to these types of games, but right away you begin the game not knowing who you are, where you are and why you are there. This mystery plagues the rest of the narrative because nearly every NPC tells you that they too were drawn to this place and don’t have a clue why. Overtime everyone develops a more severe amnesia and forget where they came from. This isn’t new to the series. Characters in Dark Souls went Hollow without a specific goal to achieve, and become mindless husks who attack you on sight. But then we knew who we were and why we were going around Lordran.

In the next area we are told by a random woman, known as the Emrald Herald, that we, the Chosen Undead must seek powerful souls and seek the King. Who is this woman? Why can she l use souls to increase our power? How does she know we’re the Chosen Undead? Who knows? She kind of explains it before the final boss fight but even that just confused me further.

We set out and even thought we are only instructed to collect souls we also have to light and connect “Primordial Bonfires” to progress in the story. Linking the bonfires was essentially the entire goal of the first game, at least that’s what most of the NPCs of the game told you. So the idea makes sense..except there’s no explanation of why the fires need linking again in DkS2.

After incidentally linking the fires and absorbing the 4 (a number that has been of great import since the King’s Field series)  great souls you gain access to Drangleic Castle where you learn a bit about the King whom, by the way, you are to succeed and take the throne. The King has been lost, that is he passed (but isn’t dead) and for some reason that lead the kingdom to fall to disarray even though the Queen is still seemingly fine and sitting motionless and speechless on her own throne. Before they wed, the queen came to King Vendrick and told him about the approaching threat of giants that were to soon overtake his lands. At her heed the King went off to make war against them before they came upon him. He didn’t quite win and the giants, lead by their Giant Lord, brought war to Drangleic. I don’t remember where the info comes from but we learn that Vendrick took something from the giants in order to fight them off.

Then we go to the Shrine of Amana, kill a bunch of crazy cultists and a Demon of Song, get to Vendrick’s Tomb to find he is now an Undead and has hollowed, use his ring to talk to a giant dragon, get a item that let’s us travel through time and for some reason fight the queen, who until she attacks us, never says a goddamned thing to us! We kill her and claim the REAL throne, which is under the castle and..does something…….?

I couldn’t make heads or tails of the ending, or anything that happened after the Looking-Glass Knight to be honest.

There is an entire section devoted to the Songstresses who keep the Dark Ones under control. Except that’s all we hear about them! One songstress says they’ve been around “since before it all,” yet we surely never met them in Dark Souls 1. They show a talent for subduing the twisted creatures around the Shrine but who are those creatures!? Do people who sucumb to the Dark now become lizardy beasts? What is their point to the story?

Speaking of Dark, why did that change definitions between games? In the first Dark Souls, the Dark was literally the absence of Light. The Lords of the first game,  Gwyn, Nito, The Witch of Izaleth, found power in the First Flame and gained great souls that let them elevate themselves above the other “beings” that lived with them in the Dark, under subjagation to the immortal dragons. With that power they fell the dragons and spread though out the world. The last person to gain power was the Furtive Pygmy who gained power from the Dark Soul. Not only could he survive still in the Dark, not needing to fight off dragons, his power split off and divided itself amongst his offspring, (mankind).

In DkS2, the Dark seems to have become an element of power, opposing the likes of the lightning of the Faithful and the Spells of the Intelligent. The Dark now breeds Demons or creepy monsters, like the lizard men at Amana. Previously demons came from the power of Chaos, the power of life, which the Witch of Izaleth incidentally created when trying to copy the First Flame.  According to what I understood of the ending, Dark and Undeath are now just the inevitable link in the sequence after Life and Light. As Lordran rose and fell and Oolacile before it, it is time for Drangleic to fall. The Emerald Herald wants to to take the Throne of Want so you can bring about and rule over the next Age of Dark.

The Queen wanted that power for herself but the King locked her out of the throne room. Why she couldn’t just go get his ring from his tomb? Why was the Emerald Herald created and HOW? She tells us she is “of dragons” or like a dragon, so is she like Priscilla? Half Dragon Half something? Why did the Undead, or any one, come to Drangleic? Why did the Ancient Dragon help us? Where the hell was the Horse boss I saw in all the trailers? Who is that cat in Majula and why is she unkillable? Who are the songstresses? What became of the bonfire keepers? What do they know of all this? Does the Throne of Want control time?

Those are the questions the game left me with and I hope to find the answers from the great gurus of Souls Lore on Youtube, TerraMantis VatiVidya and ENB. Also from anyone who sees this and wants to comment with some answers they came up with.

Pt II will come when I get some answers.