SOULSBORNE

The SOULS series (or SOULSBORNE if you add BLOODBORNE) are games renown for their difficulty and interesting worlds. Almost every article you read about them only talks about how difficult they are. Let me tell you, yep, they are hard but rewarding. I’m not here to give you another ode to how wonderfully difficult they are, because there are enough of them.

SOULSBORNE Intro to Basic World Building

Part of all of these games’ mystique is the utter lack of hand-fed exposition. Where many games these days paint their worlds with broad strokes, FromSoftware’s SOULSBORNE series is a different beast entirely.

One of the ways SOULSBORNE games give you bits of insight is by, obviously, exploring. The characters in these games can run the gamut from merchants to low-key quest givers to enemies. One thing they aren’t, however, is boring. The respective worlds of the DARK SOULS games, BLOODBORNE, and even the newly released SEKIRO are full of these people. I’m here to count down the top 10 most interesting. This list includes spoilers so if you haven’t played any of the games, and plan to — this is your warning. Last thing: this list is in no particular order, so number 1 isn’t any better than number 10.

10. DARK SOULS’ One and Only Trusty Patches

Oh, Patches. You scamp. A recurring character throughout all of the SOULSBORNE games (except SEKIRO!), Trusty Patches is the perfect example of a SOULSBORNE NPC. If his name didn’t already give it away, you should not trust ole’ Patches. In just about every game, certain other NPCs warn you ahead of time not to trust him. If you do, he’ll try to kill you and take your stuff. In DEMON’S SOULS, he’ll kick you down a hole. In DARK SOULS, the first time you encounter him he’ll attack you if you answer his question wrong. If you manage to correctly answer his question, later in the game he’ll still try and throw you off a bridge.

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He’s so trustworthy, just look at that smile. Image Courtesy FromSoftware

Even in BLOODBORNE, when he’s literally a spider with the head of a guy, he’ll try and throw you into a pit of poison. Not the nicest guy. Strangely, if you survive (or because these are SOULSBORNE games, die and continue) you can encounter him later, only for him to beg forgiveness. When you forgive him, he’ll usually offer you a very useful piece of equipment or become a merchant! Strange games these.

9. Knight Lautrec of Carim

You’re going to start seeing a pattern here. Lautrec is a knight in shining, golden armor. When you find him, he is imprisoned in a tower very early in the game. If you decide to free him for a reward, or ignore him and let him escape, he’ll hang around for a bit. As you progress later into the game, he can be summoned for a boss fight and is pretty useful. Cool, right? Nope. Eventually, after you progress even further, he’ll kill a friendly NPC and cause the first check-point you’ve unlocked to become unusable.

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Just chillin’. Image Courtesy FromSoftware

You can choose to hunt him down later in the game by invading his world (long story.) Be prepared for a fight, though, as not only do you face him, but a sorcerer and a warrior are guarding him. After defeating him and his companions, you can not only revive the friendly NPC, but you get his sweet golden armor and weapons as well.

8. The Odeon Chapel Dweller

Remember how I said you’re going to see a pattern here? Well, prepare to be wrong. In BLOODBORNE’s Victorian horror world, everything is terrifying. As you make your way through the mist-strewn streets of Yharnam you eventually come to Odeon Chapel. The first person you meet there is a cloaked, hooded… thing with only two glowing eyes as their notable features. Their dialogue is incredibly off-putting and they can be heard talking in both a male and female voice. Oh, and all of their sentences end with a sinister chuckle. They have a quest for you, hehe.

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Look how friendly she looks! Image Courtesy of FromSoftware

If you happen to find lost survivors, can you send them their way, hehe? Turns out, not only are they totally harmless — they’re probably the most trustworthy character in the game. If you do end up finding survivors you can send them to their chapel, where they will remain safe for the entire game. Not like that other place

7. Eileen the Crow

In a game like BLOODBORNE, finding trustworthy characters can be hard, and finding the sane even harder. Eileen is one of my favorite NPCs in the entire game. An aged and wizened hunter, she dresses in a plague mask and what can only be described as a leather shirt and pants with tails made of crow feathers. Her quest has you encounter her throughout the game and assist her in carrying out the executions of multiple insane and dangerous NPCs. Unfortunately, when you last encounter her, her hubris has gotten the better of her. She attacked an enemy without you and she lies bleeding out and dying on the chapel steps.

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Eileen the Crow and her kick-ass outfit. Image Courtesy of FromSoftware

As she dies, she tasks you with finishing her final hunt. Once you complete the questline you are rewarded with her armor set, her weapon(s), and entrance to her covenant. This allows you to hunt down other players whose characters have committed foul deeds in their own games.

6. Hanbei, The Undying

SEKIRO, like the rest of the SOULSBORNE series, has its fair share of wonderful NPCs. However, one of the first that stood out to me was Hanbei. After the introduction and your introduction to the starting area, you can find Hanbei slightly to the right. He looks relatively unassuming, and when you speak to him he offers to let you spar with him. You can, and if you win, the game makes you do a deathblow on him. After killing him and suddenly wondering where you went wrong, his body contorts grotesquely and he stands back up.

He’s the zombie-looking guy. Image Courtesy FromSoftware

Sighing, he mutters to himself that he thought you were finally the one to kill him. He was wrong. You can then use him as a practice dummy/sparring partner for the rest of the game. There is a questline to actually put him out of his misery, which he thanks you for, however, you then lose your sparring partner. Decisions, decisions.

5. Kingseeker Frampt

In the first DARK SOULS, there is a section of the starting area that looks like a pool. All around that area, you can hear the sound of snoring. Once you progress later in the game, you figure out what it was. Where the pool was is now a large hole in the ground and sticking out is none other than Kingseeker Frampt!

What Nightmares are made of! Image Courtesy FromSoftware

Looking like how I see snakes in my nightmares, Frampt was only sleeping under the pool, and woke up after you rang some bells! He’s a helpful old scamp who sounds like your grandfather mixed with an old British gentleman. After helping you teleport around the DARK SOULS map, he can be kept around as a useful merchant, selling you items for souls. You can also attack him, causing him to shrink back into the pit. Please don’t do that though, he’s a really cool guy.

4. DARK SOULS 2’s Sweet Shalquoir

Good Kitty! This one talks though. Image Courtesy FromSoftware

Do you love cats? Do you love cats with sweet, soothing voices? What about cats who can sell you items? If you said yes to all three, Sweet Shalquoir is your new favorite feline friend! She can be found in the starting area in DARK SOULS 2 and is also totally adorable. She’ll periodically move about the room, but can always be found hawking her wares in the same small house. Given the SOULS series minor penchant for having talking animals, she is one in a long line of succession including Alvina, from the original DARK SOULS. While Alvina looks like she wants to eat your face and maybe play with your innards, Sweet Shalquoir just wants you to know you smell great! Cute, right?

3. Retired Hunter Djura

So, you’re playing BLOODBORNE and things are going great. You’ve slain some monstrous bosses, saved some NPCs and are ready for the next area. You kill some more monsters, flawlessly executing them and step through the doorway. Next thing you know, you hear what sounds like the roar of machine gun fire. From the distance come dozens upon dozens of bullets tearing into your body, quickly killing you. Welcome to Old Yharnam, Djura has been waiting for you. Djura is an ancient hunter of beasts who sits upon his chapel, raining down death on anyone who wants to harm his congregation. Once you finally reach him, prepare for a hell of a fight.

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Djura and his sweet beard. Oh, plus that awesome stake driver he has. Image Courtesy FromSoftware

However, if you happened to take a different route, you’ll find yourself actually being able to speak to him. He asks you if you will either kill or spare the beasts of Old Yharnam. If you choose to spare them and refrain from attacking any enemies while you’re there, he won’t attack you. One of the reasons he’s made my list is not only because it’s secretly possible to befriend this bad-ass old-timer, but because of his weapon. While most other hunters tend to use swords, hammers, and axes, Djura’s weapon is much more interesting. He wields a large metal stake attached to his arm and once primed, will explosively drive said stake into his enemies. If you kill him or befriend him, he will give you his badge, allowing you to purchase this weapon from shops in the game. Sweeeeet.

2. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower/Plain Doll

BLOODBORNE is a very, very dark game. One of the few bright spots is the Plain Doll. She is an NPC you meet in the Hunter’s Dream, which is the hub area you rest at between adventures. She helps you level your character up, provides you with helpful, if eerie dialogue and remains your constant companion. Lady Maria, on the other hand, is a violent, blood bending boss you meet in the Old Hunters DLC. The two couldn’t be further apart, however, there are many similarities that I believe make for one of the most affecting stories in BLOODBORNE.

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She just wants to help. Image Courtesy FromSoftware

The Plain Doll herself is just that, a doll. She only comes to life once the player collects their first Insight by facing the first boss. While she can be found in many spots, the most interesting is by a hidden grave, with her leaning over it, almost as if she is mourning. Later, in a hidden location, you can find a workshop almost identical to the Hunter’s Dream with another inert Plain Doll. This area gives you the small hair ornament, which when given to the doll will cause her to cry with joy.

The more you pay attention, the more you realize someone may have made the doll in Lady Maria’s image. The two are dressed almost identically and share a voice actress, as well. Lastly, once you progress far enough, you fight enemies called Winter Lanterns. If you look close enough, they share the same outfit as both Lady Maria and the doll. Maybe these were failed versions of the doll and now they only exist to drive hunters to insanity. Fun!

1. Siegmeyer of Catarina

Who doesn’t love a jolly old man in armor that makes him look like an onion? For a game like the original DARK SOULS, you’d be hard pressed to even think someone like this guy exists. He’s large, fat and somewhat dim. However, the further you progress into the game, there he is. Thinking out loud to himself with the odd “hmm…” or “hah” and wondering how to progress. If you manage to follow his questline all the way through, you’ll find him quite the stout fighter. He is able to hold his own against some of the stronger enemies in the game and even ends up in some of the hardest areas.

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Hmmmmm… Image Courtesy FromSoftware

Unless you look up a guide, chances are he’ll end up dead. There are quite a few depressing ways for his questline to end, most of them with his death, or even following into an undead which you have to kill. If you do manage to save him though, he’s grateful and rewards you with a pretty damn good ring that lets you resist damage.

SOULSBORNE’s Wild Wild Worlds

Each of FromSoftware’s SOULSBORNE games is wonderfully crafted and packed with detail. Their love for world building shines through the cracks and seeps through, even without the game constantly exposition dumping you. Their NPCs are just as well. Most, if not all, of them have a backstory, but you have to dig for it. Much like the people in your own life, when a game makes you go out of your way to not only befriend, but often save other characters the results are almost always worth it. Not for Patches though, not for Patches.

Did any of your favorite SOULSBORNE NPCs get left out? Comment below to let us know which ones meant a lot to you!

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