With the release of Dark Souls in 2009, the gaming industry and internet culture changed forever. Therefore, there have been numerous articles and theories about this masterpiece. There are pages and hours of videos explaining both lore and optimal playstyles. However, while we briefly touch on some enemies in this remastered version, we'll mainly talk about the game's aesthetics.
Gameplay-wise, Blighttown is one of the most annoying parts of the game. Everything gives you poison; a lot of things can give you toxic. To add the poisonous cherry on top of the deadly cake, you can fall to your death at the press of the wrong button. Calling the place Blighttown is perhaps the best attribute possible. It's a blight on everyone's existence.
However, there is still some aesthetic appeal to the place once you stop worrying about your untimely demise. The entire location just screams "imminent death" from the color palette alone. The greens and the reds trigger an instinctive part of your brain that warns you of danger. FromSoft is the king of game development for a reason, and this type of attention to detail is a massive part of it.
9. Great Hollow
Tell us, what's cooler than a giant tree that can fit an entire city's worth of life forms in it? If your answer is "a huge tree with an entire city's worth of lifeforms already in it," then you'd be correct. It's incredibly cool that you start at the very top of the tree and try to find your way to the bottom. The entwining branches form a maze, and you can get stuck and die at a single wrong turn.
While getting stuck and dying isn't a great outcome, the place still manages to be remarkable. You encounter so many cool enemies, from cute and endearing to absolutely terrifying. While the basilisks aren't all that frightening, looks-wise, they can give you curse. And the Mushroom people are so gosh darn cute! If we didn't have to kill them, we would just squeeze them to death.
8. New Londo Ruins
Talk about a ghost town, huh? It's kind of mind-breaking to think that this entire area is directly under the Firelink Shrine. The fact that you can't even see what's attacking you until you get the necessary equipment is just… peak game design. This flooded area is definitely something to behold, and the lore of the place is fascinating as well.
New Londo was once a great city for all the Undead. The Four Kings ruled it until they succumbed to the Dark. However, it was eventually flooded and shut off to save the remaining populace. The ghosts that haunt it are not only highly deadly but also creepy. Thus, going through those ruins is sure to give you goosebumps. The fact that there aren't any bonfires doesn't help either.
7. The Darkroot Garden
While many people aren't big fans of this area, over here we stan forests. Actually, this zone has some of the prettiest enemies. There are frog-rays, the mix of frogs and stingrays and tree lizards, that look just like branches until you inspect them closely. Besides, this is the area of some of the greatest boss fights: Sif, the sword-wielding wolf, and the Moonlight Butterfly, the most aesthetically pleasing boss of the game.
The area itself is also just, plainly put, magical. Every fictional place with bioluminescent flowers has our hearts. The mix between the beautiful forest and the danger lurking at every corner stirs the imagination. While most players would just plow through the area, we encourage you to take your time going through it and let your imagination wander.
6. Chasm of the Abyss
There's a reason abysses are a common motif in the horror genre: they're absolutely terrifying. You have no idea what's around you or if there's anything around you at all. You are, quite literally, left in the dark. Adding to all of that, you're getting attacked by humanities - something you've been collecting as simple resources.
Moreover, the humanities are freaky as all hell. You're not sure what they really are, and they just… kinda float. They are just a swath of darkness outlined by a white line, surrounded by an even bigger swath of darkness. At the very least, you get to rescue Sif from them, allowing him to aid you in the boss battle. Don't mind us if we start crying.
5. Oolacile Sanctuary
There are lots of fan theories and speculation about Oolacile. It goes from how it connects to the current timeline to who the characters that appear there actually are. Oolacile is packed to the brim with mysteries, even by Dark Souls standards. The thing that won us over, however, is the Mushroom Godmother. It's a huge talking mushroom, for crying out loud!
Getting a quest from a talking mushroom is, well, just plainly epic. But the area itself is incredible as well. As we said, we stan forests over here. Oolacile is the forest. The enemies are astonishing too: they're just little gardeners! Hence, our hearts break at the fact that we have to kill them. We would much rather let them tend the trees in peace.
4. Ash Lake
First things first: the concept of Ash Lake itself is so cool. It's a lake… under another lake! While these things do exist in nature, Dark Souls takes it to another level altogether. In nature, they're primarily small lakes with no oxygen around them, but here, this is a vast optional area with its own boss and covenant tied to it. So, if you want to fight a hydra and worship some dragons, don't skip this place!
Aesthetically, it's incredibly pleasing as well. The whole area has this calming, blue tint to it, and the mist hanging over everything adds to the mysterious and magical vibe of the whole game. You see giant trees in the background, as well as the trunks, rising into the lake above. The music gives you the chills, and all you can do while exploring is admire the scenery of it all.
3. Anor Londo
The city of Anor Londo is a tremendous change of setting from the areas we had previous access to. While most other areas, like Firelink Shrine and Undead Parish, were clearly in a state of ruin, Anor Londo's architecture is still in excellent condition. The entire spot is filled with warm hues, and our first introduction to it is a picturesque overlook of the massive city.
The architecture has a distinctly gothic feel to it. The buildings are massive, and there are huge windows so the interior can be filled with light. Art historians will greatly appreciate that they even incorporated flying buttresses into the gameplay. The player needs to walk on them to get to other areas, showcasing the brilliant level design.
2. Duke's Archives
Who doesn't love a good, old magical library? Sadly, this magical library is brimming with enemies, and you can't actually read any of the books. Still, it keeps all the appeal of the magic-filled library. The enormous gothic interior is filled with shelves reaching the ceiling. Furthermore, there are books on every surface not occupied by enemies.
Not only that, but there's a moving staircase. It's not magical like in Harry Potter, but it's still awe-worthy and a tad bit disorienting. Moreover, the machinery required to move the staircase must be something incredible, even though we don't get to see it. On top of all that, you have the magical library must-have: a bookshelf that's secretly a doorway! Can it get better than this?
1. Quelaag's Domain
You may be surprised by our choice, but we would argue that Quelaag's domain is the best area in the game. There's nothing like a good horror aesthetic, and there's no area scarier than this (even including the Abyss and New Londo Ruins). However, we admit that our love of Bloodborne as one of the best PS4 games might make us say this.
Still, we think that there's nothing more horrifying than icky, sticky, gore-y horror. And Quelaag herself is a huge, (mostly) disgusting spider lady, so we love it! Plus, the area gets even more interesting if you find The Daughter of Chaos and discover her backstory. She is Quelaag's dying sister, and all the white blobs are eggs that she tried to lay. Sadly, all the eggs died, and she doesn't even have her sister to comfort her anymore.
We're not sure how divisive these takes are in the Dark Souls fandom and generally among fans of Soulslike games. However, we stand behind this list wholeheartedly. As you have already seen, we included a lot of the DLC. Furthermore, we believe this additional content has some of the prettiest areas, and we needed to hold back from making 70% of this article about it.
Do you agree with our ranking? What areas do you like best? Let us know your opinion in the comments!
Cover photo: YouTube/Screenshot