An Expert in the Souls Video Game Series Makes Dense, Enlightening Videos to Help Make Sense of it All


As mentioned in our retrospective review of Dark Souls III published a month ago, the Souls series is not interested in making things easy for you to understand. Indeed, these titles are designed to be inscrutable, with plots that draw on a fractured mythology and well-textured environments rather than any exposition or obvious signifiers. This makes the work done by YouTuber VaatiVidya something of a godsend for anyone who actually wants some idea of what the fuck is going on in these games.

VaatiVidya – aka the unreasonably handsome, sultry-voice Australian gamer Michael Samuels – has made it his mission as a content creator to allow his subscribers some much needed clarity on From Software’s behemoth video game series. What he offers, consistently and in spades, is a clear look at the story mechanics of every one of the Souls titles, from Demon’s Souls right through to 2015’s Bloodborne and last years’ Dark Souls III.

Though one of the most championed features of these games is that they’re interactive puzzles that don’t spoonfeed you their solutions, that doesn’t mean the pieces aren’t worth exploring. Consequently, Vidya – while understanding the benefit of this aspect and often commending the Souls series for being so withholding –  uses every means at his disposal to uncover the secrets they contain. He’s like a surgeon who’s so rapt with the intricacies of the human form that he can’t wait to slice it up in order to show you how it all fits together. Also (as it should be), there’s gonna be blood. Always.

His methods are simple: diligent research, crowdsourcing and ingenious speculation are all combined into solemn yet captivating voice overs. A man of seemingly insurmountable knowledge, he’s never afraid to backtrack on a mistaken assumption or give a shout out the wider community for coming up with a better theory than him on any matters pertaining to the games. Moreso than his humility and erudition, though, it’s his inspired use of actual gameplay from the title he’s discussing at any give time that makes his content so remarkable. This footage – and the elegiac music accompanying it – not only provide added stimulus, it also lends context to his theories and explanations.

For example, his “Prepare to Cry” and “Bloodborne Story” videos examine the wider stories of the many NPCs you’re likely to encounter throughout the games and do so with a perfectly calibrated use of visual cues from the respective games. “Greirat the Thief” and “Father Gascoigne“, in particular, go to great lengths to tell these tales as cinematically as possible, using appropriate outfits, locations and dialogue options from the games that combine Vidya’s tendency to dump a lot of information with the basic rules of storytelling: show, don’t tell.

Indeed, VaatiVidya’s knowledge on this subject and ability to extol it in an interesting manner contains such breadth that there’s virtually nothing he hasn’t covered in his videos, from discussions of the lore that holds each game together to easter eggs peppered throughout the series. This is as enlightening for casual fans of the series (if they actually fucking exist) as it is for diehards.

For instance, if you’re interested in learning more about the story of Bloodborne, there’s the embedded video higher up in this article entitled “Bloodborne‘s Story > Explained” that spends a full half-an-hour interrogating every aspect of the game (minus The Old Hunters expansion) so that we might begin to properly appreciate its many mysteries. If you’re interested enough, it’s riveting stuff, but if you’d rather learn the same basic facts with a lighter touch, then there’s also a condensed version that runs for just 11 minutes and still manages to cover pretty much everything from the original.

What I’m saying is that – unlike in the Souls games – there are degrees of difficulty available for you to choose from here. Vidya’s content, even for a seasoned player, can be overwhelmingly dense and reliant on the understanding of things both esoteric and complex. For this reason, it’s to his immense credit that he’s found a middle ground in his work whilst analysing a bunch of games that have never heard the word “compromise” and, if they ever did, would grind it into the fucking dust.

VaatiVidya’s versatility – offering reviews as well as walkthroughs, insight as well as conjecture – is what makes him such an essential part of the Souls experience for those who crave understanding but lack the ability to grasp the bigger picture on their own. In a dark world that offers no easy answers, he’s more than a light in the dark; he’s a bonfire in the middle of another goddamn swamp.

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