There Are Some Obscure Mechanics In Dark Souls

Oswald of Carim
Oswald of Carim
Image: illusorywall

Dark Souls is a game that’s celebrated for its oblique narrative and skillful combat, but it also has some complicated and obscure mechanics that don’t make much sense. Now someone is finally explaining them all in a useful video format.

The first two episodes of “Dark Souls Dissected” are an investigation into the more subtle mechanics of Dark Souls (and how they function in Dark Souls Remastered), with the first focused on “sin,” a mechanic that I didn’t even know was in the game. While there’s a character named Oswald of Carim who talks about sin and offers forgiveness, I assumed that was all just, you know, Dark Souls stuff. In reality, it’s a fairly complicated mechanic that pings off of the covenant and PVP systems in the game.


Creator illusory wall says in the first video that the purpose of the series is to clarify some of the confusion about how these mechanics operate in the game. There’s something wonderful about a game that can, even now, have players divided over how they believe a given mechanic works in a game. For example, in the second video it is revealed that leaving a covenant will reduce the amount of items that the game believes you have turned into that covenant, fundamentally halving the work you’ve done for them. The one way out of this is by leaving a covenant via the priest Oswald, but surprise: it doesn’t work even a little bit! The game tells you something, but what the game is telling you is wrong (or a lie, depending on how you want to take it).

Some people might find this frustration, but I think it’s wonderful. The commitment to obscurity in Dark Souls combined with wonky almost-working systems produces a fan culture where the very mechanics have to be debated about. It’s all giving me flashbacks to Dark Souls 3's apparently useless poise stat.

This is the kind of digging into Dark Souls that I love, and hopefully there’s lots more strange stuff to learn in follow-up videos.

I've played all of the Baldur's Gate games.


I am mostly pissed I’ve never seen a Vagrant. I randomly found about it while fucking around on the Souls wiki. Accomplished almost everything I care for in these games, but never ever met one of those. Also never been gravelorded, another big miss for me.