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Years Later, Players Are Finding New Secrets About Dark Souls' Endings

Illustration for article titled Years Later, Players Are Finding New Secrets About iDark Souls/i Endings

There are two endings in Dark Souls. It’s not clear whether one is good or bad—they’re just endings. Or maybe not! According to a player who’d dug around in the code, From Software actually knows which ending is the “good” one.”

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Warning: There are spoilers for Dark Souls ahead, obviously!

An unused value called ClearState was discovered by IllusoryWall, who constantly tests the Souls games for “cut content or other oddities.”

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Illustration for article titled Years Later, Players Are Finding New Secrets About iDark Souls/i Endings

ClearState suggests three options: none (0), good (1), bad (2). This is changed when the player picks an ending in Dark Souls, and begins their New Game Plus adventure. In the screen shot above, the player chose the “good” ending for the game.

“I don’t believe this provides any useful insight to the lore,” wrote IllusoryWall, “but it at least tells us how the developers were referring to the different endings.”

As a reminder, here’s how the endings for Dark Souls work out. When you defeat the last boss, Gywn, you have two options. (If you’re like me, you might not have even realized there were two endings, since the game doesn’t make both options explicit.)

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One, players can light the last bonfire. Dark Souls takes place in a bleak, decaying age that’s been perpetuated by feeding the fire. By lighting it, you’re agreeing to continue the status quo, essentially taking the place of the very person you defeated. Ultimately, your soul will crumble, as well, and another person will have to make the same decision as you. Recycle or reborn?

This is what the game considers the “good” ending.

The other ending involves the player breaking this cycle and unlinking the bonfires, becoming the new Dark Lord. Unfortunately, you’re also bringing the current age to an end, which means you don’t have very much to rule over. That said, it’s an opportunity for the world to move on, allowing a new age, the Age of Darkness, to take over. Age of Darkness? Sounds thrilling!

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This is what the game considers the “bad” ending.”

IllusoryWall double checked, and these don’t have anything to do with triggering achievements, but it’s very possible From Software never intended the game to be interpreted this way. It’s possibly discarded code, as the Souls game are famous for having lots of cut content and features that linger behind the scenes.

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In the reddit thread discussing the discovery, people had some theories leaning in this direction.

Illustration for article titled Years Later, Players Are Finding New Secrets About iDark Souls/i Endings
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If nothing else, it’s amazing there are still things to discover about these games, years later.

You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.

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DISCUSSION

the-assignment
nopunin10did

I like when games have multiple endings with a layer of moral ambiguity. It’s one of the things I did like about the (admittedly deeply flawed) endings to Mass Effect 3.

(Spoilers below)
None of the three (or four) choices was actually particularly altruistic.

  • The Blue ending ascends you into a sort of godhood, which is exactly what you were trying to keep The Illusive Man from doing. It’s hypocritical, but it definitely has the potential for the least harm to the universe.
  • The Red ending commits interstellar genocide against all artificial lifeforms. It saves the day from the reapers but manages to eliminate any work toward peace with the Geth (and kills EDI in the process).
  • The Green ending rewrites the framework of all known life, blending the artificial with the organic, which is kinda what Saren was obsessed with in the first game. It’s one enormous science experiment on a multitude of involuntary participants.
  • The Rejection ending, which the game counts as a loss, is probably the most creative. It appeals to the type of Shepherd that rejects the notion of a no-win scenario, but it clearly isn’t a win either. It’s also sort of Rush-esque: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!”