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YMMV / Dark Souls

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YMMV for individual games:

For the series in general:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: This video by IGN posits that Patches's long history of luring people to Death by Materialism is actually a Secret Test of Character both by Patches and the developers themselves.
  • Broken Base:
    • It's not a very good idea to start an argument over which game in the series is the best, and that includes the series' spiritual siblings Demon's Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Elden Ring. All the games have their supporters, and arguments between them can get quite heated.
    • The Invasion PvP mechanic is also a common source of contention. It takes a few different forms, but many of them involve other players forcing their way into others' worlds without their consent for the purpose of killing them and hindering their progress. Several game mechanics actively reward this behavior, from offering useful items to advancing in various covenants that offer powerful and unique items for progress. There are existing ways to play around it, mostly involving not invoking a powered-up state without which you cannot be invaded or playing offline, but such players cannot then summon either NPC allies or other players to help them either, and in the latter case don't enjoy messages and encouragement from other players. This is commonly regarded as actively rewarding griefing, especially since some forms of it make it very easy for higher-powered players to cheat the system and beat up lower-level players in early areas, running them out of the game. There are even a few people who are aware of this mechanic in Dark Souls and refuse to play the series because of it. Those who do it tend to be very, very defensive, though.
    • Which is better: strength builds or dexterity builds? Strength weapons swing more slowly, and necessitate equipping the heaviest armor possible to maximize poise to continue their attacks uninterrupted, but as a result have weapons that deal the highest damage and make stun locking easier with their poise damage. Defenders of dexterity point out that this limits the variety of weapons, rings, and armor players can equip, and that it's more important to maximize your ability to dodge in order to escape stun locks, and a flurry of weaker attacks can have the same results as a good strength weapon. The slow nature of strength weapons means a single misstep can result in disaster; strength defenders argue this simply makes strength Difficult, but Awesome. This divide only got deeper as more games were released, and every subsequent game nerfed poisenote , making it seem like the developers favored dexterity over strength.
    • There's also a growing rift in the fandom over the comparisons drawn to Berserk and the perceived influence it had on the games. Some fans love finding parallels and consider Dark Souls to be a worthy tribute to Berserk, while others find the constant comparisons to another series to be reductive or even disrespectful to Miyazaki if his work isn't allowed to stand on its own. The fact that the degree to which the manga inspired the games has often been misreported doesn't help matters on both sides.
  • Character Perception Evolution: Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight (or more precisely, Gwyn, Lord of Cinder), was originally perceived as a tragic Well-Intentioned Extremist who condemned himself to an eternity of torment because he genuinely believed it was the best thing to do, and the final boss battle against him at the end of the first game was seen as an incredibly sad moment. After Dark Souls III and specifically The Ringed City revealed that Gwyn had placed the Darksign on the Pygmies, who were loyal allies in the war against the dragons, because he feared their power, a lot of people reassessed him as a paranoid, tyrannical old fool who'd engineered his own destruction and caused inconceivable amounts of suffering because of his unwillingness to risk relinquishing any power. While still considered a Tragic Villain for his redeemable aspects, the later portion of that trope is regarded as his prevailing character.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Players dedicated to PvP in the level 120 "meta" range will usually rely on the so-called "quality build" (40 to 50 Vitality, 30-40 Endurance, 40 Strength and 40 Dexterity) and rely on the top few weapons (of the many viable weapons) that best match those builds. As a result, PvP has little variance. note 
    • A common trend among builds with enough Strength and Vitality is towards the use of a One-Handed Zweihänder, whether it be pairing it with a shield, or dual wielding them.
  • Complete Monster: Dark Souls is a dark series, but Seath the Scaleless, Nashandra, Aldrich & Pontiff Sulyvahn manage to outdo any other for sheer horror. See those pages for details.
  • Difficulty Spike:
    • Even given that the games are tough as nails, there are usually bits where it goes from "very hard" to "much harder than that": Blighttown in the first game, for example, is like having all your teeth pulled out by a dentist with very dirty hands, while the Cathedral of the Deep in the third starts off a sequence of 4-6 That One Levels in a row.
    • Users of Gravelord Servant can spawn Red Phantom NPCs, which are stronger counterparts of some of the enemies found in a given area, in other players' worlds. Of course, the infected players can invade the one responsible for spreading the plague. Thankfully enough, a gravelord infection is seldom seen, and red phantoms only spawn when the player attempts New Game Plus and beyond.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: A small but growing portion of the fandom falls into this territory, with quite a few people praising the surprisingly deep and creative story and innovative storytelling techniques but being turned away from actually playing the game by the relentlessly brutal and frustrating difficulty. In fact, part of the reason why channels like VaatiVidya or Zullie the Witch are so popular is that they provide a way of experiencing the lore of the series for people who either don't want to or physically cannot adjust to the gameplay.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • An odd mix of this and Friendly Fandoms with The Legend of Zelda, particularly around the divisive Wii/DS years of the latter series. With many longtime Zelda fans being disillusioned with the series for moving towards linearity, greater focus on story, and lowered difficulty, many of them came to Dark Souls for an more open experience with little handholding, a more subtle and mysterious story, more complex and difficult combat. As such, it isn't uncommon for many classic Zelda fans to name Dark Souls as "what Zelda should be." With the release of Breath of the Wild managing to Win Back the Crowd for these fans, many of them credit Dark Souls for inspiring Zelda to "return to its roots."
    • A straight example of this is with The Elder Scrolls. As both Dark Souls and Elder Scrolls are two of the most popular Action RPG franchises of The New '10s, fans of both tend to clash with one another.
    • Developed one for a while with the Monster Hunter community after the Monster Hunter: World reveal, with many a Souls fan making comparisons. Veteran Monster Hunters were not amused; While it isn't the only game to be compared due to difficulties, the former were most vocal. It was mostly one-sided, as most Souls players enjoyed the latter.
  • Fandom VIP: The Dark Souls community has several:
    • VaatiVidya and Epic Name Bro are both known for their in-depth, comprehensive analysis of the game series' lore (which is famously vague and complex). OnlyAfro, on the other hand, is a Fountain of Memes who usually posts videos of himself trolling people in PvP in numerous inventive (and usually hilarious) ways.
    • The Pretty Princess himself, ZeroLenny. Armed with nothing but a broken sword and a Pimped-Out Dress, Lenny's challenge runs are required viewing in the Souls community, even if they're not as impressive as a no-hit or Soul level 1 run.
    • Data miners Zullie the Witch and Lance McDonald are also well loved for unearthing cut content and shining a light on the development process for the games. A large amount of the information in the What Could Have Been sections for these games comes directly from them.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Since Bloodborne is a mechanically similar game also from FromSoft, it is often lumped in with the Dark Souls series and Demon's Souls, which results in the SoulsBorne games. The addition of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has resulted in some jokes about the new name being Sekiroulsborne or something similar.
    • For some recurring elements within the games:
      • "Fat Rolling" refers to the instance when the player character is overencumbered after reaching a certain Equipment Load threshold, resulting into shorter and slower dodge rolls than usual.
      • The Estus Flask is simply called "Sunny D" because it somewhat resembles a Sunny Delight bottle. This nickname also created fanarts and memes replacing the in-game Estus Flask with that product.
    • While the games starting with the first just call the player's level "Level" instead of "Soul Level", players still often call them Soul Levels since they were called that in Demon's Souls.
  • First Installment Wins: While there are vocal contingents who prefer the two sequels, the first Dark Souls tends to be more well-loved and less controversial than either of its sequels, which endlessly get compared to the original because of this. Some of the more extreme fans consider the "real" Souls series to be Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring (with Sekiro sometimes thrown in), feeling that From is at its best trying to build new franchises with somewhat similar, yet ultimately distinct design philosophies and gameplay over attempting to build on what was already good.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • With Berserk, due to the huge influence the manga has had on Dark Souls, whose developers are fans of the series. Some fans go so far as to consider Dark Souls a better adaptation of Berserk than the actual video games based on the series.
    • The fans are also quite friendly to Re:Zero, because the anime adaptation of the latter was found as a fairly interesting Spiritual Adaptation of the series with its idea of returning back after death.
  • Game-Breaker: There are many, many ways to heavily mitigate the difficulty of each game in the series, as explained on this page. That said, most of them don't work in every situation, and From often patches out the more egregious ones.
  • Genre Turning Point: Prior to the first game, third-person action games generally consisted of button-mashing until one defeated their enemies, with success in battle usually determined just by making effective use of special moves and not trying to take on too many enemies at once (and having the right armor and weapons, if the game had any sort of equipment system). Dark Souls, while not the first game to place an emphasis on learning enemy attack patterns and then effectively countering and dodging them — while also eschewing any form of Mercy Invincibility, thus allowing enemies to quickly stun-lock and beat you to death if you tried button-mashing your way to victory — was the one which made it the standard approach for action games in The New '10s.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The games are successful in Japan, but find their largest audience in Europe and North America, largely because they're strongly Western in terms of gameplay and aesthetics.
  • Hype Backlash: Some feel that the series' memetic status as the gold standard for Nintendo Hard modern video games ("_____ is like Dark Souls!" "The Dark Souls of _____") has gotten worn out over time. Most of these complaints come from players who have gotten used to the series' brand of challenge, as well as fans of other challenging games. This phrasing has also been used unironically by multiple game reviewers to a great deal of mockery, such as Gamesradar and Eurogamer with Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy respectively claiming that the games are "too hard".
  • The Inverse Law of Fandom Levity: The series is about an incredibly bleak Crapsack World where almost anything is trying to kill you, doomed by an unending cycle that is slowly consuming everything, all in a Nintendo Hard format of games. Looking past the more rabid hardcore gamers, the fanbase is famous for forming its own collection of silly and goofy jokes and icons as well as not really taking the darker aspects of the story all that seriously (e.g. calling Gwyndolin a "femboy" because he was forcefully raised as a girl and making fun of Pinwheel for being a pitifully easy boss despite his horrific backstory). The same can be applied to any other Souls Like RPGs made by FromSoftware in the informal greater "Souls" series, including Bloodborne and Elden Ring.
  • Memetic Badass: Plenty within the actual games, but the series itself has become a bizarre meta example. Just about any game that's even moderately challenging will be compared to Dark Souls or be called "the Dark Souls of its genre", even games with absolutely no similarities to the series, such as Cuphead. Part of the reason is because the title and aesthetic tell you exactly what to expect difficulty-wise. Comparing hard games to, for instance, a cartoon platformer like the aforementioned Crash Bnadicoot lacks the same intimidation factor even if technically true.
    • Another meta example is VaatiVidya, a YouTuber who does lore summaries on the characters and stories of the games. His videos are usually the average player's first introduction to the deep lore of the series, which has garnered him fame as the prime expert on the subject. Especially since he's able to ramble off the insanely intricate lore at a moment's notice.
  • Memetic Mutation: has its own page here.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • No, you're not supposed to have any sympathy for people who invade as a red. Problem is, players who set themselves up with others to "gank" are seen in the wrong.
    • Gwyndolin is a popular character among transgender players thanks to said fans sympathising with how he's forced to pretend to be a woman, but a certain aggressive minority of these fans instead read Gwyndolin as being a transwoman, completely disregarding all of the evidence in the game that says otherwise and even verbally attacking fans who refer to him with male pronouns while steadfastly referring to him with female pronouns. In other words, they're doing the very same things that, in the lore of the game, made Gwyndolin miserable.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The ambient hum that is heard whenever you enter a new location or light a bonfire. In the latter's case, this is exceptionally soothing to hear after going through That One Level and finding a bonfire right afterwards.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: While the trilogy does have a complex story, many chose to play through the game instead since the story is not something that's outright told, most of it being in the item descriptions, the big draw mostly being the challenging gameplay.
  • Popular with Furries: Despite the game series being a depressing Dark Fantasy, it still gets its own fair share of furry fans, with prominent examples being the Bell Gargoyles, Capra Demons, and especially the Dragonoid forms. Said Dragonoids are especially prone to receiving Self-Fanservice from furry artists, most notably Dark Souls III's incarnation.
  • Recurring Fanon Character: Giant Dad is a fan-created "character" meant to poke fun at PvP builds and the "tryhards" that use them. A version of the Chosen Undead (or any later protagonist) wearing the Mask of the Father and the Giant Armor/Gauntlets/Leggings, Giantdad is portrayed as a Memetic Badass and Memetic Troll that trash-talks his opponents with poorly-spelled Internet Jerk rhetoric, using the Chaos Zweihander to kill his foes in four hits and taunting them after their death with the "Well, what is it?" gesture.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Hannah John-Kamen of Killjoys and Ant-Man and the Wasp fame voiced two characters in the Dark Souls series: Lord's Blade Ciaran in the first game and Sweet Shalquoir in the sequel. Her role as Ciaran was pretty much her acting debut before she went on to nab bigger roles in film and television.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Gwyn was definitely an incredibly flawed figure with even the most charitable possible interpretation. He was an abusive father to his children, numbered depraved beings of questionable sanity among his closest allies, shamefully treated the Pygmies after the war with the Everlasting Dragons despite their being loyal allies in his cause, and ultimately caused the events of the series through his unwillingness to accept that his Age of Fire must end one day and the Age of Dark take its place. But some fans take things still further, arguing that he was a tyrannical ruler and Lord-supremacist racist (when evidence actually suggests and supplementary materials outright state his own Lordly knights resented how deeply he loved human beings and hoped to protect them from dangerous threats), that he did what he did to remain in power forever (when his plans involved using himself as fuel for the First Flame to burn in agony for all eternity, something even his most deeply opposed enemy called "a sacrifice" and certainly didn't leave him comfortably calling the shots), and heavily exaggerate his mistreatment of the Pygmies, whose Ringed City was a Gilded Cage rather than a Hellhole Prison, and at least one of whom, Ludleth was convinced enough of the rightness of Gwyn's cause to become a Lord of Cinder in his own right. This also sometimes goes hand-in-hand with the Draco in Leather Pants approach to the Darkwraiths and their patron Kaathe, trying to make the conflict between the Flame and Dark more black-and-white than it actually is in-series.
  • Sacred Cow: Because of its reputation as bucking the less-than-desirable trends of modern gaming (such as spoon-feeding rewards and overexplanation of both story and gameplay) while still retaining the good parts of such, the Dark Souls series is often considered close to the pinnacle of gaming as a whole, and any potential criticism tends to be viciously shut down.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Because some people don't think the game is hard enough.
    • The Company of Champions in the second game is explicitly built to be this. After the (many) warnings the game presents you with, joining the associated covenant will give enemies boosted damage and health, infinite respawns, and will disable co-op until you abandon it.
    • "Castlevania/Belmont Runs" a.k.a. Whip-only runs (which the game admits flat out on the weapons description is a Joke Weapon almost useless against anything with armor) are common. Less ridiculous in the second game, where whips become a Lethal Joke Item on Dexterity builds if you can keep your foes at a distance.
    • The famed "Guts Run", meant to emulate the main character of Berserk (no helmet, no shield, only two-hand melee weapons, only crossbows as ranged weapons, no spells outside of ranged fire spells, throwing knives and emergency dagger allowed).
    • Similar to the "Guts Run", is the Cosplay Run. Essentially you do your best to look like a character from another piece of media and try to emulate their fighting style, appearance, and personality as best as possible.
    • More generally, there's the "Fashion Souls" style. The idea is to get good enough at the game that you can ignore stats entirely and just wear whatever looks cool or silly to you.
    • The Soul Level 1 run, which is completing the entire game without ever leveling up.
    • Bare-fist or naked runs, where players complete the games without using weapons and/or armor, beating bosses and enemies to death with their bare hands. Often done in combination with Soul Level 1 runs.
    • Broken sword runs, where you can only use the Broken Straight Swordnote . Dress is optional.
    • In Dark Souls, the Calamity Ring, obtained from slaying Black Dragon Kalameet, doubles the damage its wearer takes. Given the nature of this series, only the most skilled players would be brave enough to try playing with the Calamity Ring equipped. And on top of all this, while wearing it, the Calamity Ring takes up a ring slot.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Even before the actual gameplay! Due to armor stats only serving a purpose in extreme cases, people tend to make various cosplay builds, but spend a good deal in the complex character creation.
  • Unconventional Learning Experience: Dark Souls teaches you different types of medieval weapons and armors (standard weapons, not boss weapons) as well as bringing attention to historical European martial arts (HEMA). That said, the overswings may get you killed in a real fight.