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Nightmare Fuel / Dark Souls II

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You will be one with us... for eternity...
Dark Souls II is shaping up to outdo its predecessor in terms of nightmare inducing elements found throughout the game, which is no small feat. Unmarked spoilers ahead.

  • Enemies are able to break down walls and doors. Unless you have quick reflexes or are already familiar with the game, don't assume you're safe from a monstrosity just because you ducked away into a small room hoping that the thing chasing you would be too big to fit in the passageway.note 
  • The bosses, once again, are Nightmare Fuel incarnate. Unlike Dark Souls, where the bosses are somewhat empathetic, Dark Souls II's bosses are often times nothing more than wailing monstrosities, begging to be killed, or purely malicious beings of hatred and contempt.
    • The Last Giant is a massive, nearly dead creature burning with the desire to extinguish all human life. The way it moves, its resilience to kill you (including RIPPING OFF ITS OWN ARM in an attempt to kill you), and its ghastly wails all pale in comparison to one feature: its gaping, pitch-black hole where its face should be.
      • Possibly the most disturbing part is its intro. The way it so desperately wrenches itself from debris it’s buried under/impaled on. Then, with a pillar still stuck in its torso, it comes at you in a crazed crawl. Its entire intro perfectly sums up how much it hates you, and how it wants nothing more than to destroy you.
    • The Pursuer is a mysterious Black Knight who travels by giant crow. He wields a BFS and levitates across the battlefield to stab you in the face. And according to the lore, he travels across the land hunting down Undead in an effort to relieve himself of some terrible curse. He will never stop hunting you and can materialize out of the freaking ground. Depending on how you proceed through your adventure, he can come after you outside of his boss arena. And to make matters worse, there's more than one of them!
    • The Lost Sinner is an overly tall woman, with a terrifying mask welded onto her face, and is handcuffed. Yet, she still manages to use a sword. She exhibits all sorts of horrors when you first encounter her; no person should move like that. The way she's chained up and her mask indicate that this was a person who did something very wrong, and is being tormented because of it. The reason for her "sin" is eventually revealed in the official FuturePress guide: she attempted to relight or recreate the First Flame, which some consider the "ultimate sin". This lead to yet another demon infestation which wiped out the kingdom she was in. She still carries the remnants of the Witch of Izalith's soul, which is obtained in New Game Plus as the Old Witch Soul. It's implied her prison's design and her residence within it is all of her own willing design.
    • The Duke's Dear Freja looks like a giant spider, with long, hairy legs. It's actually two massive spiders conjoined together at their abdomens, with A Head at Each End. Think Quelaag was bad? Meet a literal demonic spider. What makes this scarier is the name — "Duke's Dear". Some person out there held this monster close to his heart. Worse yet, she lives on the corpse of a dragon, an Old One at that. Oh, and it is possible to encounter her outside of her boss arena in New Game Plus, which will likely give many players a good scare. What makes this beast scarier is that it's actually a reincarnation of Seath the Scaleless, as hinted by Manscorpion Tark and the Old Paledrake Soul it drops in New Game Plus.
    • The Smelter Demon. The freaking Smelter Demon. It looks like the freaking devil himself, what with ginormous horns, metallic, inhuman face (more of a gaping hole almost like a Giant's, really), horrific screams of rage and torso filled with a burning blaze. Even better is this — the damn thing wields an enormous BFS, and is extremely good at using it. At a certain point in the fight, it will start constantly emitting fire, burning you if you get too close. And then it can stab itself with its own BFS, coating it in a molten blaze of fury to let it kill you faster.
    • The Rotten. Everything about this... thing. It is a ginormous mass of bodies tied together with sacks and rope, all vying for control. You heard right. A massive living pile of corpses. The moans it exhibits clearly show that the Undead inside it are in pain, yet it still fights you with unrelenting aggression. Even worse is the area you fight him in is so full of dinginess and filth it'll make the Valley of Defilement blush. The Rotten drops the Old Dead One Soul in New Game Plus, implying it is the reincarnation of Gravelord Nito, First of the Dead.
    • The Final Boss, Nashandra, is a tall spectral figure, donning a large, ethereal cloak with a creepy skull-like mask (or is that her face?) and wields a massive scythe. Nashandra is as close to a depiction of death itself in a video game is going to get. Everything about this woman reeks of creepiness — like she shouldn't exist. The unearthly way she glides across the ground, her unnatural summoning abilities, her cooing, gentle voice, and her massive scythe all give off the impression of unease. This is a monster that should be feared. Not because she's intimidating, but because of her sheer existence. The last time such an otherworldly impression was felt was with Manus, from whom Nashandra inherited a fragment of his soul according to the official guide.
      • There's a portrait of her human form in Drangleic Castle, which, if you get too close, starts dropping curse on you at high speed. This is your first clue that there is more to her than it seems. There's a good reason why, when you first encounter her, she keeps well away from you: this woman is a literal anathema to all life.
    • The Demon of Song is a giant frog-like monster that is actually the shell of the creature. Its true form looks like a rotting corpse with freakishly long hands and sunken eyes which emerges from the larger creature's mouth, which looks and sounds like it is being regurgitated. Perhaps the creepiest part, however, is the fact that the Milfanito that sing its song are all dead, yet you can still hear them sing. The demon is mimicking their voices. That beautiful, sorrowful singing? That's this thing.
    • Vendrick could count too in an eerie sense. Through the entire game, he has been hyped up as the final boss and the toughest enemy. Yet when you finally find him, he's gone completely Hollow. The huge, imposing figure of legend is now nothing more than a skinny, gangrenous zombie, protected by legions of Undead to prevent anyone from finding out his secret. To see the man that was said to be so powerful simply walk around half-naked in a mindless daze, dragging his sword behind him and not even paying attention to you is unnerving. And when you do pick a fight with him, he will likely one-shot you despite his sluggish movement.
    • The Old Iron King, a molten abomination and a Big Red Devil reminiscent of the Balrog. Just when you thought no creature could live in a lake of lava, this huge monster emerges from one and proceeds to shake the arena with pure, unadulterated fury. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact it drops the Old King Soul in New Game Plus, implying that the Old Iron King was possessed by what's left of Gwyn's' soul.
    • While the Ancient Dragon is normally not hostile and welcomes those who show respect while at the top of the Dragon Shrine, attacking it one too many times triggers what is unequivocally the most brutal boss in the entire game, forcing you to brave its unimaginable retribution or die incinerated beyond recognition. Even the soundtrack agrees that you made a horrible decision.
    • The Darklurker, an angelic being with the ability to cast spells of untold scale. It's said to be born in the Dark Chasm of Old, which is stated to be the remains of a terrifyingly powerful beast. Paradoxically enough, the soul it drops isn't Abyssal in nature like the souls of the Children of Dark; it possess a light soul despite residing in what's implied to be Manus' remains. This thing is truly incomprehensible given the nature of light and dark in this world; it looks positively angelic, resides in the Abyss, and has a soul uncorrupted by the dark despite being able to manifest the Abyss' power as beams of light and great balls of fire. Whatever this is, it is something that should not exist even by this series' standards.
      • Even worse, in Dark Souls III, the Winged Knights of Lothric are in service to Holy Mother Gertrude, who was said to have contacted some sort of angelic being, thus forming the foundations of the angelic faith of Lothric. Now, who exactly fits the description of an angel and has untold power that manifests itself as brilliant white beams? Oh right, the Darklurker! And, the Angels of DSIII are described in the plural, meaning that if the Darklurker is the type of being that contacted Gertrude, then there could be more of these things!
  • Your dying animation. In Demon's Souls, it was your character's spectral form fading away (which made sense; you were a ghost 75% of the time), and it was relatively the same in Dark Souls. Here? Your character collapses and turns to ash, blowing away into the wind.
  • Several of the NPCs themselves deserve special mention.
    • Melentia, the game's second unlockable item selling NPC. A little creepy with her unnerving laugh, hooded face, and darkness-oozing hands, but nonetheless kind. She sells two Human Effigies. Much like the first game, without being human, you become more and more crazy as you go Hollow. While Melentia neither goes crazy or starts attacking you, she instead becomes more desperate of you to buy items from her.
    • Mild-Mannered Pate. A friendly, yet cautious man, he often points people in the direction of rare treasures. In short, he's a nice guy and there's nothing particularly nightmarish about him... or is there? Talking to Creighton about him will allow you to learn that Pate is a backstabbing knave who uses his kindness as a front to bait his 'partners' into setting off traps, so he could get the treasure himself as Creighton found out the hard way. Whether or not this is true, however, one cannot help but think about the number of people he possibly could have tricked into dying for his benefit...
    • Creighton of Mirrah, also known as Creighton the Wanderer. A former partner of Mild-Mannered Pate, he is also a knight from the land of Mirrah, judging by the armor he wears... or so he wants you to believe. In reality, he is a knight in name only, and his armor set is an imitation — he's actually a Serial Killer who escaped to Drangleic on the day before his execution, now hell-bent on getting his revenge on Pate, who betrayed him. Which begs the question: Just how many people did he kill before he finally got arrested?
    • Darkdiver Grandahl. He's a mysterious yet very powerful old man in a wheelchair, obsessed with the Dark and quite eager to sway the Undead Hero into joining his covenant, as well as being able to open portals to the Dark Chasm. That said, the fact that he is able to do so at the cost of one Human Effigy suggests that he may not be even human anymore...
    • Titchy Gren. He's a dwarf-like man in the service of Nahr Alma, the God of Blood. What's so unsettling about him aside from where he is standing at in his location is his appearance and personality. His clothing is caked in the dried blood of his victims, and he's so bloodthirsty it's just unnerving to hear him talking to you, let alone being anywhere near him. Try and get a peek under his hood? He has no face! Just a featureless form of a head!
    • While Lucatiel of Mirrah is generally a kind and noble woman, her storyline shows exactly how terrifying the Undead curse can be. When you first meet her, she's happy to explain where she's from and even offers to help you in the future. But, eventually, it becomes clear that she's losing more and more of herself, until you find her in a shack outside Aldia's Manor, desperately clinging just to her name and begs you to remember her as she fades further away.
      • The second time you meet her, she takes off her mask to show you the extent of her predicament. Half of her face is rotten, and it's actually her Dark Sign; for her, there is no hiding her Undead curse.
    • The Embedded. He's a man whose desires spiraled out of control one day, now tied up to a door upside down in chains forever so that he could make up for his corruption. The worst part about that? He did that to himself. Knowingly.
    • Royal Sorcerer Navlaan. He used to be a controversial part of the royal court in Drangleic, until, that is, he locked himself up for eternity in a magically sealed cell for a good reason. It turns out that he got possessed by a malevolent being, which is implied to be Navlaan, not the man hosting him, who is fully aware of it and unable to do anything about it other than lock himself up for the safety of Drangleic. Should the player decide to free him, he will invade not once, but six times in different locations, using two powerful and unique Hexes guaranteed to end you for your daringness to free him.
    • Licia of Lindelt. When you first meet her, she's friendly, if not a bit suspicious, actively trying to sell miracles to you in exchange for your souls. She sounds like a decent sort of person, though, right? Wrong. Later in the game, she will invade you twice, once in Castle Drangleic and again in the Undead Crypt as the Nameless Usurper. The rewards for invading her with the Crushed Eye Orb include a miracle that was supposedly stolen from the Lindelt monastery and never recovered. The implication here is that Licia isn't a real cleric at all, but a murderous thief who robbed the monastery of its miracles and valuables. For all we know, the equipment she is using now might have once belonged to a real cleric she murdered at the monastery.
  • The Undead Citizens. Sure, they're weak, but the way they move and look is so unsettling. Some of them are illuminated inside of their body, while others lack the light. Their running animation makes their first encounter worse, and it's initially hiding behind a barrel, waiting for you. If it doesn't succeed in getting an attack in on you, or chase you down, its buddies sure will. Of course, their method of attack might become Nightmare Retardant, but they can somehow cause a large impact. You have ones that only inflict normal damage, ones that explode, ones that inflict petrification, ones that can corrode your equipment.
  • Mimics make a glorious return. This time, they crawl on all fours. And they're bigger. And they appear as both regular wooden chests and special metal chests.
  • While some say that area design in general for the game is less creepy, this is untrue. Several areas are downright horrifying in their nature.
    • Aldia's Keep. This place could best be summarized as an Umbrella testing facility where everything went to hell. In the first chamber, you encounter cursed mirrors whose murderous inhabitants break their way out in violent fashion, and a serial killer kept locked in a magic prison. In the main hall, cages containing some of the worst abominations in Drangleic line the ceiling, and then inevitably shatter and fall unleashing the whole horde upon you. Worst of all, besides a mound of Giant corpses, the absolute worst excesses of the place remain unseen, resulting in Nothing Is Scarier.
    • Forest of the Fallen Giants isn't really creepy until you learn more about Drangleic's history, courtesy of several NPCs. See those trees? Those are Giants corpses. You are literally walking on a field of dead corpses. Which adds a little bit of terror to the boss you fight there: the Last Giant. It's been trapped in that cavern, surrounded by its dead race, unable to die for god knows how long. You walk in and it awakens in an animalistic rage. With the Updated Re Release, several items' lore reveal that its rage is justified, for it is what's become of the Giant Lord you supposedly killed in the past.
    • Harvest Valley/Earthen Peak. A.K.A The land of the poisonous everything. Everything is gray and drab and dull, and not many things survive. The valley itself is pumped full of poisonous gas, and the peak (an enormous factory or mill of some sort) pumps copious amounts of poison down and out the valley. What's scary is the fact that this place is heavily fortified, implying that it may, at once point, been some sort of military or civilian institution. The undead miners and Mounted Overseers give the impression that this was a labor camp of sorts. The Old Iron King seems to have been quite nasty, even before his death and transformation into a fiery demon.
    • The Hunstman's Copse and the Undead Purgatory. A small forest full of bandits and tormentors who want nothing but to kill all undead, or at the very least hunt them for sport. Up the hill and across the pit, is the Undead Purgatory, a massive Colosseum, built for the exclusive need to torture the undead. The idea that someone out there thought that hunting what are effectively zombies was fun is fairly messed up.
      • It's worse than that. In the late stages of the curse, Undead become zombies, true. But in the early stages? They were hunting fully sentient people for fun and sport, and since Undead can never truly die unless the fire is lit, all it did was make them go Hollow sooner.
    • The Shaded Woods is one of the most unnerving parts of the game, simply because its a fog-shrouded forest where you can barely see more than a few feet in front of you, the largest trees have twisted, screaming faces growing out of their trunks that groan if you hit them, and there's nearly-invisible ghostly soldiers roaming the woods who can't be directly targeted and who are all too happy to run up and backstab you.
      • Once you get out of the fog and stumble upon ruins, you will be constantly plagued by evil spirits that raise your curse meter at an alarming rate. Sure, you can destroy the urn which houses the dark aura, but there are so many of them, some of which are even out of reach. What could have caused those spirits to harbor such a powerful hatred towards trespassers?
    • The Gutter is nearly on par with the Shaded Woods, mostly because of how dark and quiet it is the first time you find yourself in there. It's also because the cavern walls have muck flowing down them, there are pillars made out of refuse and corpses, and the enemies there are all too eager to ambush you or knock you off your feet to your doom. Then there's the thoroughly creepy ambient background noise that sounds vaguely like a heartbeat.
    • Black Gulch is a deep, dark pit, possibly as low as you can traverse into the entire game. It's dark with only the Sickly Green Glow of the poisonous statues to guide your way. It's quiet and it's nearly empty, save for some hideous worm-like things that claw out of the ground when you get too close. Those are not the most horrifying things; that would be when you go just a little bit lower into a secret cavern. What you find in there will probably one of the last things you expected to ever run into: two Giants, remnants of the ancient enemy that attempted to conquer Drangleic. These guys are filled with just as much hate as your old buddy from the Forest of Fallen Giants, and they're much better armed.
    • Brightstone Cove Tseldora. Everything in this area is really trying to murder you, from the giant spiders, deformed casters, spider-controlled undead, basilisks and even Vengarl's headless body.
      • Actually let's talk about Brightstone Cove Tseldora a bit more, shall we? Especially since the place is essentially an arachnophobe's worst nightmare. Up above isn't so bad, just some weird hollowed farmers and pigs, but the further down you go, the more of those damned spiders you start seeing, especially some of them fused to other hollows and manipulating them like a parasitic puppeteer. And then in the final area, just before the fight with the Duke's Dear Freja, you're walking around a huge darkened room with webs everywhere, clearly a nest for the spiders...of which there's quite a few lurking around just waiting to catch you by surprise since the little buggers do make noise when they drop but are otherwise deathly silent when they move. In fact, you may not know many of them are right behind you or nearby until they've already bit a huge chunk out of your HP, and heaven help you if they've ganged up on you without you noticing. Not to mention take a look at the bottom floor of the room as well. That's's littered with piles of human bones covered in webbing! To say this place is a frightfest is an understatement what with the eerie scenery and literal Demonic Spiders.
      • The backstory is fairly terrifying too. Duke Tseldora wasn't exactly that sane of an individual to begin with, having an intense adoration of spiders, but he made a living running the Brightstone mining operations. Eventually, the Duke found a massive hive of parasitic spiders living beneath the earth, and within, found the Writhing Ruin Keeper. He somehow tamed the beast, and gave it the title of his Freja. The spiders were kept at bay, and mining continued. To rouse spirits, Tseldora built a congregation for his miners, and for the most part, it worked. For whatever reason, the parasitic spiders one day turned on the miners, decimating the operation. The Duke simply stood by and watched as the entirety of his troops were overtaken and killed. The lucky ones went undead, and began to feverishly worship the spiders as deities. The unlucky ones were taken over by the spiders, and turned into Parasitic Hollows. It's heavily implied that the Duke let himself die, in order to be with the spiders forever. At the bottom of his mansion in Brightstone Cove, past Freja's chamber you can find his study, Vengarl's body, and the Duke himself, gone fully hollow. Yikes.
  • Go ahead, try setting the music volume to 0 and go somewhere dark like The Gutter or the area before the Duke's Dear Freja boss area. Max out the volume and put on your headphones. Whispers can be heard every now and then. Woe betide to those who try to listen to the voices.
  • The first DLC, Crown of the Sunken King, gives us Elana the Squalid Queen. She appears as an emaciated, almost skeletal figure, and seems to be covered in gnarled roots and vines. Similar to Nashandra, mentioned above, everything about her is just wrong. If you read the description for her soul, you'll learn that the similarity to Nashandra is intentional. She's another shard of the Abyss, and she was planning something terrible before you came along.
    • Two out of three voice clips, Elana's greeting is threatening, but delivered in a similar tone as Nashandra has. The last ("You... forever you shall rot") has a masculine tone underlying it, hinting at her true nature as a piece of Manus, Father of the Abyss.
  • Also in the DLC, we are greeted with the Imperfects, monstrous creatures with ridiculously proportioned bodies and gigantic mouths. What the hell are they? Well, from their drops (Petrified Dragon Bone and Dragon Scales) they appear to be an unsuccessful attempt to create dragons.
  • Sinh. An everlasting dragon that long slumbered in the depths. An entire civilization was built around it, until one of the Drakeblood Knights attempted to slay the beast. The result? The entirety of Shulva was engulfed in the poison that was flowing through Sinh's veins, reducing the entire population to poisonous hollows in an instant. And even after poisoning an entire city, he's still got plenty of it left for any would-be challengers.
  • Nadalia, Bride Of Ash. A fragment of Manus that found, to her horror, that the king she had come to meet was already gone, and the kingdom was now ashes. With no place left to go, she forsook her physical form, and essentially possessed everything there. Her only connection to the physical world are twelve idols hidden around Brume Tower. So she is trapped forever as a disembodied spirit in a kingdom with no contact with the physical world, powerless to leave. Even if she wasn't evil before, the nightmarish isolation would have been sufficient to drive anyone mad.
    • If you listen to the babbling coming from Nadalia's idols, it is very difficult to make out what they are saying most of the time. It is could be cries for help, for you to be killed, for her to be killed... listening to the pure audio files extracted from the game (making her dialogue a bit clearer) seems to suggest that she thinks you're the Old Iron King finally come back, and she's flirting with you. Which is creepy in a completely different way.
    • Her corpse: After defeating the Fume Knight, and going to claim the crown, you find her corpse sitting upon a throne... one covered in ashes. It is clear that her body is long dead, and while she may have succeeded in sitting upon the throne, unlike Nashandra, the appearance of her idols, and her insane babbling, make it clear that what she got was in no way what she wanted...
  • The Fume Knight: Raime the Traitor found the power he sought, strength enough to defeat his greatest rival... but chose instead to become the eternal servant and bodyguard of Nadalia. When we first see him, he's rising out of the ashes, ashes which covered both him, and the sword he wields. Was he sleeping under there? ...Or is he now an undead hollow, rising only when a challenger comes to try and harm his mistress?
  • The final area of the Crown of the Ivory King DLC is called the Old Chaos. It is... terribly familiar. Lost Izalith is still around, as is the chaos tainted flame... and it's still trying to break loose, to spread and cover the entire world. Ironically... the only one who holds this nightmare at bay is a child of dark.
  • From Scholar of the First Sin. Did you believe Lord Aldia became the Ancient Dragon? Well you'd be wrong. His twisted experiments actually transformed him into a massive Eldritch Abomination with a Voice of the Legion that looks like a heaped-together pile of wood, flesh, and fire. And he's the True Final Boss.
    • Even worse: you get no souls nor his Soul from defeating him. And even though he fades away as if he died, he still talks to you. Aldia truly took himself out of the cycle of Life and Death, Light and Dark.
    • A new addition in Scholar is that when you try to light certain bonfires, he'll burst out of the ground, knocking you back. It's especially unnerving because they're only bonfires right after or before especially terrifying locations.
  • The Forlorn. They are outworldly spirits created through Aldia's obsession with the First Sin, torn from their own worlds and left to drift in and out of others, forever seeking home. However, the loss of their physical form has left them with no beginning or end, leaving them to forever wander aimlessly...
  • The Lost Bastille. Essentially The Alcatraz, this prison was created to hold those afflicted with the undead curse. When the prison got too full, the Flexile Sentry was tasked with cramming them onto a ship and dumping them far away from Drangleic. Many of them failed to survive the journey, either starving to death or drowning along the way.
    • Lost Bastille has some very creepy overtones in that, unlike everywhere else in Drangleic, the place is seemingly still fully functional. Deteriorating, yes, but still a working prison. Guards still patrol the halls, the mysterious Jailer is still sending out his creations to keep tabs on prisoners (an you) and the Varangians are implied to still be raiding the coast for “prisoners” to add to the cells. The whole thing feels like a place held up by sheer cruelty tinged inertia. Adding to the creep factor is the reason why of all things a Hellhole Prison is the last functional entity in Drangleic: to ensure The Lost Sinner is punished for her entire hollowed life.