We at Twinfinite love From Software’s Souls games. Demon’s Souls and especially Dark Souls get regular love here, and, with Dark Souls II fast approaching, we are hitting critical mass of anticipation. And then something happened that took my love of the series and my love of art books and decimated my emotional fortitude: Udon Entertainment announced they would localize Dark Souls: Design Works for Western fans, and now that the books are hitting shelves across the country, Twinfinite has you covered on what to expect.
There are arguably more difficult games than Dark Souls. There are also games that are more appealing to RPG purists than Dark Souls. One thing that makes the game so special, however, is the fantastic art direction, and Dark Souls: Design Works is a celebration of that special element that separates Dark Souls from so many other games.
The hardcover book is divided into three chapters: Concept Art, Design Materials, and Interviews. It’s a little light on any in-depth descriptions of the images, but as far as pure art appreciation goes, this is a beautifully rich book. Illustrations in the Design Materials (which carries the bulk of the images) covers everything from areas in the game, bosses, monster enemies, and armor design. The quality of the images go anywhere from mildly surprising to completely illuminating (Seath the Scaleless, The Hydra, and The Four Kings come immediately to mind). There was a single mistake in labeling (the Mimic is labeled as the Serpent Mage and vice versa), but whether or not that should deter you from purchasing is up to you. It’s a minor complaint, and the only one I could muster.
The book may be light on descriptions, but the 128 pages of high-quality illustrated materials are reason enough for the entry price. Many of these are colored design illustrations that places these wonderful designs in more artful settings than previously seen. I would love to have prints of some of these images hanging in my room. The armor concepts in particular excellently display the intricacy of many of Dark Souls‘ designs.
The last chapter is dedicated to a fully translated 11-page interview with the director of the series, Hidetaka Miyazaki, and four of the designers, Daisuke Satake, Hiroshi Nakamura, Masanori Waragai, and Mai Hatsuyama, for a pretty in-depth and detailed into the inner workings of the game. Everything from the design process (specific elements of the game such as a boss, their setting, and equipment are created by a single designer) to the mythology of Dark Souls is discussed here. It’s really fascinating stuff that almost makes up for the lack of these details throughout the rest of the book.
Dark Souls: Design Works lives up to its name as primarily a book showcasing the process of designing the game. The book is light on any other supplementary materials save for the interview at the end, but those aren’t even really complaints. As someone wholly enamored with the world of Dark Souls, Dark Souls: Design Works does an amazing job showcasing the building blocks of the dark and gothic world we all fell in love with.
The book can be purchased at various online retailers but the best deal is on Amazon here.