“All the monsters I design, from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls, are beautiful to me no matter how gruesome their appearance.” Dark Souls Director Hidetaka Miyazaki shared this bit of insight with me earlier this year in a PlayStation.Blog interview and the quote has bounced through my brain for more than six months. Since then, I’ve been wanting to get a closer look at the game’s stunning creature designs, all of which are plucked from the further reaches of Miyazaki’s fevered imagination.
Luckily, today’s the day. For the viewing pleasure of PlayStation.Blog readers, From Software and Namco Bandai have collected a host of rare concept artwork accompanied by design notes from Miyazaki himself. Miyazaki also wanted to pass along a greeting just for PlayStation.Blog readers: “I am hoping all of you experience meaningful deaths many times in the game. I know that the game is challenging, but I want you to keep trying to overcome any difficulty you face in the game. And please feel a great sense of achievement when overcoming a difficulty!”
Read on for the full gallery. If you do pick up Dark Souls, keep us updated with your character build, equipment, and winning strategies. I have a hunch we’ll be needing all the help we can get…
Hidetaka Miyazaki, Director, Dark Souls: These are the preliminary designs for the Gaping Dragon. The story goes that there were many ancient dragons in this world, and after many of them perished, the few survivors went mad. This is just one of the many designs we came up when discussing how they went mad.
This is the Snake Man. He was designed as another one of the “failed experiments” for obtaining the immortal scales of the albino dragon Seath the Scaleless. It’s referenced in the rings inside the game, but the image of a snake with scales that sheds its skin overlaps with the immortal ancient dragons. Compared to popular snake-human designs, its neck is much thicker, which I like.
This is the Crystal Undead. Like the Snake Soldiers, he was designed as one of the “failed experiments” for obtaining the immortal scales. Snake Soldiers were one of the earlier designs, so they (along with the Crystal series) embody the later designs in the game. Visual allusions to the dragon Seath and crystals are a major theme in the Duke’s Archive and Crystal Cavern.
This is the Sealer. This design was inspired by the theme of “mage of lost rituals.” In the end, it gained the role of sealer, and was assigned with the ritual of curse-breaking.
This is Havel’s Armor. His design came from the theme of “an ancient soldier of stone.” I particularly like his large crested helmet.
This is the Bell Gargoyle. This boss was designed after we decided to include a scene where you fight on a church rooftop. The gargoyle motif perfectly fit that situation, as well as what was required for the game. He’s one of the earlier bosses you’ll fight, but we wanted him to convey the ambiance of Anor London in that he’s the embodiment of the medieval ages in a world of knights and kings.
This is the Egg-Bearer. He came about during a flood of ideas with no one particular theme. His design is without a doubt shocking, and many more ideas came from him.
This is the Embraced Knight. The story went that this knight received divine protection from a goddess, but then we started to think about adding something twisted or unexpected to the design and that’s where we got the idea to have the embracing arms of the goddess designed right into his armor. His armor inspired the creation of the character Lautrec of Carim.
This is a Dragon Zombie. Like the Gaping Dragon, the story goes that after many of the ancient dragons died, the few survivors went mad. This is just one of the designs we came up when discussing how they went mad. We decided to go with the straightforward “descendant of dead dragons” design, but we also wanted to go with elements that felt almost metaphysical.
This is the Titanite Demon. He was the product of a lot of brainstorming when we weren’t able to narrow down the theme. From the game perspective, we needed “an ore demon that forges weapons,” and he was ultimately selected for that role.
The Black Knight. At first, he was designed to represent an evil spirit. We pictured it as the grudge of fallen soldiers amassed together to become the hollow Black Knight. That idea ultimately didn’t take shape, but it was such a cool idea that it we eventually tweaked it for King Gwyn’s knights.
This is the Gravelord Nito. He was designed with the theme of “Lord of Death.” I remember his first drafts being approved without many revisions. A rare treat!