Video games can be incredibly existential. Beyond the obvious examples such as The Talos Principle and Soma, which wear their themes of self, spirituality and existential angst openly on their sleeves, there exist many other games that comment on our concept of self without being quite so overt.
On that note, I'd like to talk about one such game. Dark Souls.
'Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself'- Sartre. Of the many games out there, none quite so embody this as much as Dark Souls (and the other Souls games in fairness). In the beginning of each game, we create our character from a list of pre-determined and vague backgrounds and classes. Straight away, we must fill in the blanks. Who is our character, what is their identity, their beliefs, morals, history? How did they come to this position and why? But the more important and relevant aspect is what will they do now?
'We are our choices'- Sartre. In Dark Souls, everything we do is a choice. Beyond the obvious choices such as the covenant we subscribe to or whether we pick Kaathe or Frampte, every NPC we choose to kill or not, every boss we vanquish, even whether we choose to carry on with our quest or succumb and give up is a choice. This last choice even makes sense in the lore of Dark Souls, as it is stated that many chosen undead have tried and failed to link the flames. Even if we choose to give up and never play again, we are still a part of this story, an also ran who failed. We become one of those Hollows. In Dark Souls, as a character with no voice, our actions are all we have. Without them, we would be nothing. Or rather, even more nothing than we already are.
'Do it or don't do it. You will regret both'- Kierkegaard. This dictotomy of action and inaction is a core part of the Dark Souls experience. When faced with certain bosses, such as the Gaping Dragon in The Depths, we can choose to fight or not by bypassing him with a key. To not fight is to miss that experience, those souls, items, etc. But to fight is pain and frustration, as we lose and die again and again, to the boss and the enemies and environment beforehand. This is especially true thanks to the Basilisks, which punish our choice to fight or not with a rare permeanace in our shortened life bar. This balance of push and pull gives our choice to fight or not a harsh depth. To not try is failure but winning is still failure of a different kind.
And for what do we do this thankless jourey, to go through more dangerous areas with more pain and death. And when we finally get to Gwyn, a shell of himself and link the fire, we are burned to a crisp. Dark Souls ends in death, the journey is steeped in death, a pure expression of our death drive, our need to return to nothing. But of course, we can reject that destiny and become a Dark Lord, condeming the world to a dark death while we prowl the land, gathering souls. Either way, we seek death, whether that be in ourself or in others. In a cold unfeeling world where God is dead, what else can there be?
I just felt like putting some thought to digital paper. Playing Kingdom Hearts again has been an surprisingly existential experience, what with the talk of Nobodies who should never have existed, seeking purpose in a world where one has none and all that good shit.
Lets get on with the blogs!
A- CharredAsperity talks about Persona 5 and how Futaba's mental health struggles spoke to them. I would recommend using paragraphs to break up the text, pictures for the same effect, to structure your points more coherently and logically and to just write a bit more as it's a rather short blog. But still, I like the subject matter.
A- My boi Kerrik52 gives us a deep dive into White Knight Chronicles Origins, the PSP prequel to the White Knight Chronicles games on the PS3. I've almost bought this game several times due to sales but held off every time. After this review, I think I'll hold off indefinitely.
Well guys, this has been a fun. Have a great day. Or rather, make your day great by being true to your own self. Bye!