A powerful moment, one that seals the fate of The Chosen Undead and it also marks the departure Dark Souls makes from other Fantasy Games. Oscar hands you the key that will change the course of Lordran.
Oscar of Astora represents other games, hes the hero from a noble family, which has a story depicting how the undead fate shall be revealed. It was supposed to be him who triumphed above adversity, him who would travel to Lordran and ring the bells … but somehow that task falls to someone who other games would just be … a zombie in a cell, somebody that has been killed in countless Castlevania games, Elder Scroll games, hell, even in Demons Souls! This is how one of the best stories ever told got started.
Thou who art Undead, art chosen… In thine exodus from the Undead Asylum, maketh pilgrimage to the land of Ancient Lords… When thou ringeth the Bell of Awakening, the fate of the Undead thou shalt know…
While the final game doesn’t actually have a path back there, bear in mind that there is that weird cylindrical structure behind it, which could have been intended to house a staircase.
There’s nothing to see if you clip inside, and I can’t recall if this statue has been 100% confirmed by the devs to be the originally-intended entrance to the Firelink Altar, but given its proximity to Frampt, it would make sense.
But since this is a post about out of bounds content, what do we have that relates to this?
Down in the Firelink Altar, there is a broken staircase that leads over to whatever this stuff is:
As it is currently in-game, there’s no collision out there, and even if there was, the area is surrounded by an invisible wall so that you couldn’t possibly make the jump.
But there is something to indicate that this area would have been the original entrance. Up and off to the side is a weird cave-like entrance hidden behind the wall:
Stepping out from it would put us over here:
This indicates an unused physical entrance to this area, as opposed to the serpentine transit system, which fits in quite nicely with the idea of the statue sliding open to reveal a path that would lead down here. Furthermore, the map data is laid out so that the Firelink Altar is physically near the statue area of the Firelink Shrine.
Underneath the room before the first bonfire, you can find a couple things beneath the floor. Here I am looking back towards that room from the hallway, with part of the map disabled so you can see it:
Those blobs on the right are candles, the same kind you see nestled in those various nooks in the walls:
You can find a spot by the last door-opening-lever where you can see the VFX for a flame, but it’s not attached to any candle. It seems like one of these should have been moved there:
The other thing seen down there is a set of of these corpse-carrying nooks (do they have a proper name?They’re called “Loculi”, thanks algi!):
There’s also another spot in the Catacombs with an out of bounds object. Far beneath the entrance to Pinwheel’s lair, is a duplicate of the table found in Pinwheel’s room:
Why is this down there? I have no idea.
It’s not uncommon for videogames to hide assets used in cutscenes in out of bounds areas, to avoid having to spend time loading content. One of the first games I can recall finding a bunch of hidden cutscene assets in was Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
For example, there’s one level where after you beat the boss, it transitions to a cutscene in a “completely different” area, where you see your character on a plane. But the cutscene loaded quickly without a loading screen, due to this area simply being underneath the floor of the map. I looked up the cinematic on youtube, and in it you can even see debris floating in the sky above the plane, since the fight with the boss must have left some broken objects behind that the game failed to toggle visually:
Dark Souls does this in a couple places as well. In the opening cutscene to the Undead Asylum, you can see a rat scurry by:
That rat turns out to be an object file that is stored beneath the floor of the opening cell (that small black thing in the center):
Also, when you place all of the Lord Souls in the Lord Vessel, the game shows all of the yellow fog gates dissipating. Instead of loading each area with a yellow fog gate, those segments of map are copy/pasted into the area of the Firelink Altar, floating somewhere out of bounds.
But I’m still confused by Pinwheel’s table, because Pinwheel’s room already has that table in it. So it seems like it could be cutscene content, but it really shouldn’t need to be used for the cutscene in any way.
MFW (insert witty meme about being confused here):
So this last item is simply well hidden, and not technically out of bounds since you can see it in-game. But I don’t think most people will notice. I certainly didn’t, not without looking out of bounds in the first place.
Nito has those two coffins in his room. His personal coffin, plus that one smaller one to his side:
But wait, can you spot the third? It’s on the far right of the image, hidden in an inaccessible nook. It’s probably even harder to spot in this next image, but it’s dead center in this one:
Clipping through the map, we’re able to get a better look at it:
At first I thought this might have been storage for the coffin that’s used by Gravelord Servants to travel here. But it’s not the same coffin. It looks different, and this hidden coffin is part of the map data while the Gravelords’ coffin is a proper object file:
Plus bearing in mind that the third coffin is visible in-game and not hidden like 50 feet beneath the room, that suggests that it might be an intentional part of the design.
There isn’t a lot of Nito lore out there, but my interpretation is that this hints at Pinwheel’s obsession with Nito, and ties things together with the whole family theme of the Catacombs (the family masks, the statues showing the father and mother/child, and Pinwheel itself being comprised of three bodies inside that garb, each corresponding to a family mask).
If you take a closer look at the skeleton on the table in Pinwheel’s room, you can see that they’re giving the skeleton a Gravelord-sword kind-of-thing for an arm. Like a recreation of Nito:
Since Nito has two coffins nearby and not just the one, it’s evocative of this same kind of family theme. Additionally, pinwheel has three people crammed into it, and while Nito’s family is nowhere to be seen, they could just be piled into a much larger family that Nito built- all combined into his body:
Nito. Not just a bunch of random skeletons, but one big family?
This would also be very cohesive with Pinwheel’s design, where Pinwheel is trying to copy/ steal everything that Nito has done, including becoming a creature out of a family bound together. The black garb itself could even be a cheap way to imitate Nito’s black aura.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to draw these parallels between Pinwheel and Nito, but I’m not sure if the extra coffin in Nito’s lair has been offered up as additional evidence to that hypothesis yet.
This pretty much covers all the strange out of bounds content that I could think of (not counting skybox stuff like the “other burg”, etc). Thanks for reading! If I missed anything, please let me know and I can make an addendum.
“Regrettably, I have failed in my mission… But perhaps you can keep the torch lit.
There is an old saying in my family… Thou who art Undead, art chosen… In thine exodus from the Undead Asylum, maketh pilgrimage to the land of Ancient Lords… When thou ringeth the Bell of Awakening, the fate of the Undead thou shalt know. Well, now you know… And I can die with hope in my heart…”
Another painting of a sleepless night. Fanart of my favorite game, one of my favorite scenes. It was so atmospheric!