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Nightmare Fuel / Dark Souls III

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As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

  • Most of the monsters as soon as you start the game seem like standard enemies we're used to seeing in this series, but from the boss battle with Iudex Gundyr on, the sheer wrongness of the enemy designs becomes more and more apparent. Dark Souls has always had disturbing creatures, but this game ramps it up worse than ever before. It really drives home just how much the world is falling apart around you, that even the things trying to kill you are twisting into nightmarish shapes to reflect a dying world.
  • The Dancer of the Boreal Valley. A large, unnaturally slender, armor-clad humanoid which moves and fights with such fluidity, she blurs the line between graceful and disturbing. Item descriptions reveal that the rings Sulyvahn gave her as part of the Outrider Knights not only turned her into a crazed beast, but merged her skin with her armor.
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  • A gameplay trailer shows a random undead bursting into an enormous black snake monster, with red eyes, but only the top half, so it's a huge coiled monster that's not all the way out. It doesn't help though, because that way it becomes in a Lightning Bruiser. Iudex Gundyr, the game's first boss, also has an Abyss monster explode out of him at half health. It's bound to catch anyone off guard their first time around.
  • The giant Crystal Lizards. Not only have the resident Butt-Monkey creatures of the franchise taken a massive level in badass, their giant form just looks wrong, with a general appearance that looks like a strange, spindly alien with a massive amount of crystals growing out of it in rather awkward ways.
  • In the Undead Settlement, a place that is riddled with despairing Hollows, are these large, fat evangelists who will spontaneously combust upon spotting you and attempt to grab you and burn you alive. To make matters worse, they speak rather seductively and say "Poor child, come to me" when they try to grab you.
    • Throughout the settlement is grim evidence of torture and mass executions, including piled bodies, cages, gibbets and breaking wheels. Some backstory seems to suggest that this is all thanks to, guess who, the fat evangelist ladies. They are literally killing the village and collecting souls for their superiors.
  • The Curse-Rotted Greatwood. It's not so bad at first - a gigantic, humanoid tree that you strike repeatedly in the groin, attacking you by butt-slamming the ground. But then a white, disturbingly thin arm bursts out from its bloated belly to attack you - what the hell is that?
    • Its soul says that the locals pushed all the really, really bad curses afflicting the area into this tree. The thing almost looks like it's incubating something within the wood, not helped by how it almost moves like a baby trying to walk in the second phase of the fight.
  • Speaking with Yoel of Londor. So, a free level or two. Not a bad deal, right? Except that, by drawing out your "true strength" with him, you receive a Dark Sigil, which makes you hollow by a certain amount every time you die, and can only be removed at a very high cost of souls. And even if you do get rid of it, your Hollow meter never goes down, keeping you in a possible state of decay and near-madness.
  • If there's one thing that FromSoftware seems to love its skeleton bosses. They had a skeleton made of skeletons in Dark Souls, a trio of skeleton lords that summon smaller skeletons on death in Dark Souls II, and an electric wolf skeleton in Bloodborne. So, how do you trump that for the Grand Finale of the series? Simple, you make High Lord Wolnir, a Skeleton Lord that is a few hundred feet tall. Have fun.
    • Even his backstory is nightmare inducing. Put simply, he was a Lord that managed to slay every other Lord of Carthus and took over the whole joint for himself, only to foolishly attempt to conquer the the Abyss and instead get stuck between realms, forcing him to lure unwary travelers, including you, to throw into the darkness to extend his own life. The only thing that kept him alive down there was his Holy Blade and the three bangles that he wears that can ward off the Dark - which he looted from the bodies of innocent clerics. The center of his realm was called the Profaned Capital, which created a coal that Andre normally wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Among other things best left unstated. He's just a few skips past the Moral Event Horizon short of Aldrich, so it's a definite case of Kick the Son of a Bitch.
    • And how do you kill him? Destroying the same bracelets that keep the blackness off him. And, true to form, if killed this way he doesn't simply disintegrate. He's visibly dragged into the Abyss with a silent scream in a matter of seconds.
  • Irithyllians in the lore are treated like The Fair Folk, sending out their Outriders to kidnap and kill. Many people outside the Royal Family did not even believe the city truly existed. Those who get killed by the Outriders are the lucky ones. Getting taken back results in having your head enveloped in some kind of hex, forced to serve the cruel nobility for the rest of existence, your only sustenance being blood that drips from red Titanite. Other slaves are sent to the dungeons to be tortured and experimented on until they become something unrecognizable as human. Worse still, getting marked for kidnapping is something beyond people's control, as even being born with pale skin is apparently enough for the Pontiff to send Outriders after you. Some Irythillian slaves encountered are so mutilated they cannot even walk anymore, but they still defend their cruel masters with everything they have, such is the strength of their mind control.
  • Irithyll of the Boreal Valley. Scenery Porn at its finest, along with some seriously messed up stuff lurking beneath the auroral stuff. First, it's ruled by Pontiff Sulyvahn, who worships Aldrich and gives people rings that turn them into feral monstrosities (like Vordt and the Dancer). Then you get to the sewer, filled with spider-lady things that spit poison like crazy and other nasties. When you get past all the pretty scenery, you get to the Irithyll Dungeon, where the nobles apparently enjoyed putting on masks and acting like jailers (who will quickly establish themselves as Demonic Spiders due to their ability to drain max HP just by looking at you), and there are baby-headed beasts roaming around, corpses with treasures that will scream your ears off when you touch them, at least 4 Mimics, enough rats to give an exterminator a steady job FOR LIFE, and other prisoners from the nastiest corners of Lothric. The place is so nasty it can, and does, successfully hold a Child of Dark; Karla. THEN you get to the Profaned Capital. Fun times from the game's That One Level.
  • Pontiff Sulyvahn, who might as well be The Heavy of the game's narrative thanks to just how much he royally fucked everything up. He's not only hiding Aldrich away so he's not sacrificed as a Lord of Cinder, even feeding him gods to empower him, he essentially ruled Irithyll like a tyrant and desecrated Anor Londo, city of Lordran's gods out of sheer and pure spite for its original rulers. And as stated above, he gives people he forcibly conscripts into his "Outrider Knights" rings designed to drive the wearer insane and twist their bodies, turning them into feral beasts. One of those was the Dancer, who was a member of the Irithyllian royalty, who could have challenged his rule and stopped his mad crusade in its tracks. From Nobody to Nightmare is an understatement.
    • The fight against Pontiff is one of the most deceptive boss fights in the series considering it plays itself like a Final Boss fight despite being only halfway in the game. Unlike most bosses which attack you the moment you enter the fog gate, Sulyvahn just stands there on the other side of the room. And only after approaching does he light both of his swords and quickly close the gap between the two of you by lunging several feet in just one leap. The music, while starting off as somewhat serene and beautiful, eventually catches up in intensity. And if you've paid attention to the lore and item descriptions, this is the man who ruined Anor Londo and Irithyll, enslaved their people and fed numerous people to Aldrich, just to achieve more power for himself. This fight will definitely catch anyone off-guard who wasn't prepared to face Pontiff just yet.
  • Aldrich, Saint of the Deep looks nightmarish enough as a Blob Monster in the opening cinematic. Then you enter his boss arena and find him fighting you using Gwyndolin's upper body like a puppet, making it clear that his title "Devourer of Gods" is not hyperbole. There's no telling how many gods he's eaten, if any other than Gwyndolin. When you place his ashes upon his throne, you'll see only half his skull... which happens to be overflowing with maggots.
    • It's difficult to hear over the noise of the battle, but if you listen closely to Aldrich's boss theme you can hear the faint sounds of creepy whispering, muffled screams and children crying.
    • Aldrich in general might be the closest thing to a serial killer in the Souls games. His ring mentions he enjoyed hearing the screams of his victims.
    • A couple people made concepts for Aldrich without Gwyndolin. They aren't pretty.
    • Aldrich's battle theme is probably the scariest song in the series. It's a perfect recreation of Gwyndolin's "Moonlight Butterfly", but it's a very Dark Reprise that turns it from being melancholic to just being...wrong. The second phase, however, simply takes the song and makes it straight up horrifying.
    • This whole thing is even worse if you played as a Blade of Darkmoon in the first game. Gwyndolin was your leader, and while his moral compass could obviously be just as suspect as everyone else in this world, he still advocated making those who had committed sins pay for it. Cue Aldrich and his horrific cult stepping in and swallowing up Gwyndolin. Moral or not, a horrific, sinful thing comes along and kills off the one who sought to make people accountable for their actions.
  • That giant spider/fly... thing, that ambushes you inside the Cathedral of the Deep. Even with a message warning you beforehand, you are bound to be startled when it comes for you.
    • Many are accustomed to mangled horrors such as that, and fighting it is a simple task of- IS THAT CURSE BUILD-UP!?! Suddenly hardened veterans and those gunning for the Usurp the Flame ending who want an adequate life bar suddenly get the hell out of dodge.
  • In the Profaned Capital, a side-area brings you to a cathedral sinking into a swamp that contains what can be best described as "hand monster babies" with a huge cluster of eyes in their stomach area called Monstrosities of Sin. Body horror at some of its worst in the series. And if they get the best of you? They EAT you. Just looking at the damn things are bad enough, let alone getting crammed inside one. Even worse from a Lore standpoint is, from the info given by the Eleonora weapon, these were once a coven of witches, beautiful women with evil hearts who were responsible for calling forth the Profaned Flame that destroyed the city. Worst is, they got away with the slaughter of the entire city, unless you count their current state as a punishment.
  • Take a close look at that eclipse in the sky during the last quarter of the game. In a series so heavily influenced by Berserk, an eclipse is already a Class-S 'Oh, Fuck My Life' moment. But that's not an eclipse. It's the Seal of Fire hanging in the sky.
  • The Consumed King's Garden is a horrible place- despite being a relatively short area, the place reeks of horror. Toxic mist, an abundance of Cathedral Knights and those horrible black dragon hollows and the sounds of a baby crying resound throughout the area. The Consumed King himself, Oceiros, is also a horrific boss, due to being an eyeless, freakish half-man-half-dragon beast, desperately clutching his child, who may not even be there... Whether or not it's real is a different matter entirely, though the game implies that the King is hallucinating his baby, and goes mad with grief once you break his illusion.
    Oceiros: (furious screeching) OCELOOOOOOOTTE!!! (battle transitions to second phase)
    • This is cut content, but in the original game it seems he was going to be clutching his child. His grief in the second phase was going to be him reacting with horrified anger and grief when the player character causes him to accidentally murder his child. His transition to phase 2 causes him to bring down his arms in rage at your attacks- this crushes the child, killing it, and drives him completely and utterly insane. This was taken out likely due to being too dark. The sound files for the death of the child can be found here, but do be warned as it is extremely NSFW.
    • A restored version of the alpha build of the battle not only has the baby model in his hands, as stated above, but also has his hand continue to clench the child's mangled corpse after crushing Ocelotte. Even worse, the child would continue to cry, constantly being squished and trampled underfoot by Oceiros and somehow still not dead. It's not helped by the fact that the child is abnormally large and covered in petals that look less like someone covered it up and more like it's not quite human.
  • Spoilers ahead for the endings, but each one of them comes with its own blend of Nightmare Fuel and Tear Jerker given the state of the world and how you ultimately decide its fate, be it for good or ill. Of course, exactly which of these is the "best" ending depends upon the player's own interpretation of the lore.
    • To Link the First Flame: You Link the Fire, doing as you're told like a good little Unkindled. The problem is the fact that, sooner or later, you'll end up like every Lord of Cinder before you. There's also pretty strong evidence indicating that there's no one left among the living, so there's a good possibility that all you've done is give the Hollows a chance to die, and gave an empty world some more sunlight. Bravo, well done, you've accomplished exactly nothing with your sacrifice. And when you inevitably go Hollow, there will be no one who can take your place. The Fire will die, as there will be no one there to relight it. And even if there is enough people alive to carry on the duty of linking the fire and prosper, just compare the fire on you in this game compared to linking the fire in the first game. It's obvious that the First Flame will just keep getting weaker and weaker until it can simply no longer be linked anymore.
    • The End of Fire: You let the Fire die, with the Fire Keeper taking away the final embers of the First Flame. You let the world finally die the way that it was probably meant to all along. Given that the world has been getting progressively more craptacular with every repeat of the cycle, this is a Mercy Kill. A new world will rise from the ashes, but you most likely won't be there to see it. It's just gonna be you and the Fire Keeper waiting for each other to die in a world gone to ruin.
    • Betrayal: You kill the Fire Keeper and take the last vestiges of the Flame from her, so now you're going to have to endure the end of the world and the onslaught of the Dark by yourself as the Sole Survivor of the End of the World as We Know It.
      • In both of those endings, there's a brief and playable glimpse into what living in an age without fire is like: An infinite, impenetrable, deafening darkness. This also shows how strong the Would Hit a Girl trope is, as despite how violent this game is, the sight of the Unkindled stomping on the head of the defenseless fire keeper is uniquely disturbing.
    • The Usurpation of Fire: You become the Lord of the Dark, master of a Hollow world. That being said, this ending could be a lot more optimistic since, as you've now absorbed the essence of the First Flame and have Yoel's Dark Sigil to give you access to the Dark Soul (giving you control over both Light and Dark, as Vendrick and Aldia once sought), you can finally break the Cycle of Light and Dark and allow humanity to gain true dominion over the world as they were always supposed to. Sure, you're gonna have to rebuild everything and essentially start over in a world governed by the Dark, but maybe you'll be able to move on and actually advance beyond the Cycle.
      • Though going by a lot of in-game descriptions, you should be worried far more about the state of the world, under the Usurpation of Fire ending, than all the others. In-game descriptions describe Londor as a horrible place, filled with evil people who hate the living and worship hollowing. Yuria is a sinister figure, a Darkwraith that encourages the player to kill innocent NPCs for their ashes and even at her most benevolent interpretation is a Well-Intentioned Extremist willing to go to any lengths. It's made clear that being called the Lord of Londor is a horrible thing, though again. There's a reason this ending is considered to be either the best or worst way for the world to go.
  • There's something deeply unsettling about the Untended Graves and its version of the Firelink Shrine. On the most basic level, the complete darkness of the place and utter silence is unnerving - you get the sense that there should be something there, but there isn't, just... Nothing. Firelink is worse. This place that many would, at this point, view as a home is almost completely deserted, lifeless, made only worse by the signs that familiar figures were there before, but not now.
    • This is the result of Lordran's time-warping powers: to begin with, the First Flame is already doomed and there is absolutely jack shit that can be done about it - to begin with, Gundyr was The Chosen One destined to become the next Lord of Cinder; however, he never made it to Firelink, so the Flame was snuffed. Ludleth, desperate to keep the fire lit, broke time to create a sort of alternate world that still had some time left, became a Lord of Cinder, and sealed the dying timeline, the beginning of the Age of Dark, as the Untended Graves. That's it. The crisis that beckoned the tolling of the bell? It's the death of the world.
    • And one of the items you can get, the Ashen Estus Ring is found in a particularly unnerving manner: in your grave, the one you awoke from at the very beginning of the game, pried from what's implied to be your corpse, having never risen to become the Ashen One.
  • The gigantic sandworm, a beast so dreadful that the warriors of Carthus, badasses one and all, could only knock it into the Smouldering Lake, rather than kill it outright. It is a monster clad in an exoskeleton made of bones, and can only be killed by either a long bombardment of ranged attacks, or tricking the ballista into hitting it. Multiple times. Its mobility is extremely constrained due to the lack of sand to tunnel through, but the fact that it seems to be the creature primarily responsible for the near-extinction of the demons gives you an idea of just how dangerous this beast was, back when it was rampaging through the Carthus deserts, and it is fully capable of destroying a player who ventures too close.
  • There's something unsettling about the overall design of the Archdragon Peak. For starters, you access it through what seems to be meditating until exhaustion, with no other clue as to how you made it there. Next, aside from a horde of Man Serpents guarding the ruins, the loneliness of the setting is tangible. This is exacerbated by the fact that you stumble across countless humanoid dragons, all motionless and in the same meditating pose you used to get to the area. It's unclear whatever happened to them (they're either dead or have turned into stone) but the location is nonetheless called the Dragonkin Mausoleum, complete with several incense burners, bells and communion plates; it's as if everything stopped while they were in the middle of one of their rituals. Was the path to dragonhood worth leaving behind their human self? Oh, and going to the top of the Peak nets you a view of a mountain-sized dragon corpse in the distance.
    • One of the most eerie things about the place? By the time you get there, you'll have to have gone through three of the Lord's of Cinder to get access to Lothric Castle and consequently the Consumed King's Garden so you can get the gesture needed to reach this place, meaning that, as mentioned above, the Seal of Fire will be looming in the sky, eclipsing the sun. In Archdragon Peak? The sun is shining, and the sky a radiant blue. Rarely is it that a sight as mundane as this can be unnerving...
  • The angel knights: A cult that formed around a seemingly indecipherable document about a revelation that the queen's handmaiden had been given. Ordinary people can't decipher it, but a small number of people can, and become angel knights when they do so. When they do, they gain inhuman strength and abilities, and some even gain wings. The strength they gained was sufficient to give the small number of followers enough might to be able to kill hundreds of Lothric knights in a great rebellion. The only catch is... we never see what they look like beneath the armor, and with how much is made of how inhuman strength is needed for their weapons and armor... there's a strong likelihood that becoming an angel knight is something akin to following the path of the dragon, and the cost of that power is becoming something that is no longer human. And since TRUE angels don't appear in the Dark Souls canon, one can't help but wonder where the power the knights are using is coming from...
    • There are statues of an 'angel' in Lothric Castle; It would appear that one of the primordial serpents (more than likely Frampt) might have something to do with it...
    • And considering Primordial Serpents have a definitely mysterious origin, aside from "coming from the Abyss", the Angelic Knights might well have some sort of distorted form as a result of somehow combining the Abyss and Miracles in a different way than the Dark Miracles.
    • Even worse than the idea that the Serpents are behind it is the fact that there is one being in Dark Souls canon that could be considered "angelic"; The Darklurker from DSII that resided in the Dark Chasm of Old. It was also stated that the Darklurker was not born of the Abyss but could seemingly bend it to its whims in the form of bright white spells. What else can do that? Oh right, the followers of Lothric's angelic faith like the winged knights.
    • And worse still, the Angels are always referred to as Angels, as in, plural. The Darklurker was bad enough when it was by itself, alone in the Abyss, but this opens the way for the possibility that whatever the hell it was, it was far from the last of its kind. Oh no. If the link between It and the Angels is true, we could be looking at a species of Darklurker creatures capable of bending a fundamentally uncontrollable force of destruction to its will, forcing Dark to become Light and Fire.
  • The Pilgrim Butterflies don't look too bad from afar, but someone managed to get a close-up look at one of them. Yes, that is a ribcage coming out of its back.
  • The Kiln of the First Flame was bad enough in the first title, being a bleak, blasted wasteland of melted rock and ashes. However, a resourceful Japanese player used a flying hack to explore the surroundings of the Kiln in the third game, and it is not pretty. The way the numerous ruined castles are smashed together into an unnatural, floating jumbled mass in the background not only highlights the distorted flow of time in the world of Dark Souls, but also gives the impression that everything that ever occurred throughout all of the games and everything in between has ultimately piled up into nothing more than metaphorical and literal ruin, a different kind of nightmare fuel that hammers home the fact that this is well and truly The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Spoilers for Ashes of Ariandel ahead: Father Ariandel is a textbook example of why you shouldn't kill someone's loved ones. He is a massive Corvian that uses his own blood to try and restore his Painted World, and seems to be the Final Boss of the DLC until his minder and dear friend Sister Freide shows up. You proceed to defeat and kill her, and the scream of rage and grief Ariandel lets out could best be described as ear-rupturingly loud. Take the Corvian Storyteller screams, crank them Up to Eleven and rip the knob out, and make it come out of nowhere and you'll get a decent idea of what they did for him. Then he slams his bowl into the ground over and over to the point that it ignites and sets the entire room on fire while reviving the Unkindled Sister Freide for a double-team boss battle.
    • It goes From Bad to Worse after that: when you defeat the two of them, the music stops and you receive a prize... but the "HEIR OF FIRE DESTROYED" announcement fails to appear. Turns out that not only is Friede Not Quite Dead, she's back to full health, really pissed, AND she now uses the Dark Flame. Have fun.
      • And that's not even mentioning everything leading up to it. The very first things you hear about Ariandel is that the world is 'rotting away'. It initially isn't too bad, as you travel through the snow. But then you get grim reminders, seeing eggs and maggots burrowing into cliffsides as if there were flesh underneath the rock and distorted fly creatures that cover you in bloodsucking worms. The Corvian Settlement is ALMOST the worst of this, with pitiful, vomiting Corvians wallowing in rivers of filth, and being slaughtered wholesale by lanky knights. And then you see the worst of it: a huge basement, swarming with fly-creatures, carpeted in dead (human!) bodies and (what can only be assumed to be eggs) alike. And then you climb the stairs, and open a door… and the rot was right under Friede's feet all along.
      • And for the final, horrifying touch, you learn the reason why the painting rots. Because when a world is painted, it is painted in blood. And in the end, the blood either burns… or rots.
  • From Ashes of Ariandel, the Corvian Knights. The first time you see one, it drops down and walks over to you in a peculiar gait, looking like something from a Tim Burton flick. You then discover they 1) do a lot of damage 2) are extremely fast and 3) have way more health than such an enemy should have. You then run into another one which runs around slaughtering its fellow Corvians, who run away from the creature with visible horror and dread while it turns its murderous attention unto you.
  • The new trailer for The Ringed City just oozes Nightmare fuel: the first shot we see is just the infamous Dark Sign and quite literally gives a musical jumpscare. And the actual first shot of the trailer is The Kiln of The First Flame, except there's now plant life... Then we see someone or rather a group of people we already know: The Pilgrims of Londor. The second shot isn't much better, showing humanoid bipedal creatures with large, portruding sacks in between their legs, not to mention they look like bugs and have human faces devoid of a nose.
  • Gael's state at the end of The Ringed City is not a pretty sight. He's grown large enough that he can't properly stand up straight, his cape looks bumpy and organic at some parts, there's a giant, gaping hole in his torso, partially revealing what appears to be his heart, and the way he moves faster and more nimble than anything that size ever should is eerily reminiscent of both Artorias and Manus. The reason he's gotten so big? Gael ingested the Dark Soul through the mummified blood of the Pygmies, developing a desire for more and has been eating the Pygmy Lords in order to obtain what he already had.
    • In the second phase of his fight and onward, he gets way better than he should be - and by that, we mean he can not only stand straight, but also that he becomes the personification of the Dark Soul itself.
    • One of his still living Pygmy victims is helplessly crawling towards where Fillianore lays, hoping she can help them, revealing they don't even know she's become a corpse. Another is also shown crawling away as Gael devours one of the dead Pygmy Lords, only for both to die from their wounds regardless.
    • He also kicks off his third and final phase via unleashing a flurry of fireballs from the giant hole in his torso. While groaning in agony.
  • Of the more existentially terrifying variety, courtesy of The Ringed City; after defeating Gael, there is no triumphant cutscene like when you decide the fate of the First Flame, no ascending or rejecting the Throne of Want, no triumphant burst of fire as you relink the Flame. There's just... nothing. Just you and the ashen wasteland at the end of the world, especially if you took care of Shira beforehand. In what can be a very lonely series, this is easily the loneliest moment, bar none. Everything and everyone is dead save for you, and all you have left is the ruins you helped create.
  • The Locust priests. Imagine giant insects with the faces of long dead humans, that crawled out from the abyss. Their item descriptions reveal they devour the flock (humans and pygmies) they're supposed to be preaching to. On top of this, they know the truth about the various characters found throughout the series, without any explanation how they know what they do.
  • It's easy to overlook, but if you look closely at the Aldritch Ruby and Saphire rings they are clearly organic, but far creepier the gem of the Aldritch Ruby appears to be filled with worms

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