Dark Souls: Anor Londo

I have reached the lost city of Anor Londo! I’m given to understand that this is a big deal for my quest, although I’m still not entirely clear on why — I’m pretty sure the game has told me, possibly more than once, but it hasn’t made much of an impression. Something about a box, and four lords? Which presumably means four sub-quests. This game is a lot bigger on lore than on story. Still, I know the name Anor Londo has come up before, and it’s clear to me now that breaching its walls has been the actual purpose of basically everything I’ve been told to do in the game so far, bells and all.

The significance of this moment is underscored by contrast. Nearly every other place I’ve seen has been a crumbling, moss-covered ruin, and often cramped and poorly-lit to boot. Any remaining human inhabitants have gone Hollow, and without their care, the whole place goes to pot. Whereas Anor Londo is pristine. It’s a gleaming marvel of wide plazas and elegant spires, bathed in an eternal golden-hour glow, like it’s Kadath or something. And the inhabitants?

That’s the creepy part. There aren’t any.

OK, that’s not quite true. There’s the Firekeeper. And there’s these ninjas or something, although they seem to be just as much interlopers as myself. And there are these armored giants with absurdly small heads passively standing sentry in some buildings, looking like part of the furniture until you get too close. So actually there’s quite a lot of inhabitants, but they’re not regular city people; they’re all fantastical guardians of some sort. In the ruins, that sort of thing is understandable. You don’t expect to see normal people living in a ruin. But it stands out as something strange in need of explanation when no one’s living in a place in such good repair — or at least it does if the game draws your attention to the fact, and makes it clear that it’s a deliberate authorial choice, by drawing such a stark visual contrast.

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