Concept Art Analysis: Dark Souls II
by Landon Green
Sure, everyone likes their favorite games in their polished cleaned up form, but what of their time as an embryo? I’m talking about concept art in this case and, in particular, the concept art for ‘Dark Souls II.’ Now I haven’t played the original ‘Dark Souls,’ which in this case should be good because I won’t be biased, but I feel like I can already tell what type of game this game is just by looking at the rough sketches for it. In short answer the game looks amazing from its concept art, a bit dreary, sure, but it doesn’t hold anything back on the high levels of badassery. In attempt to analyze the concept art and show you the good parts without going over every piece I’m going to look at my favorite pieces from each category that it has multiple concepts for (landscape/environment, character, and enemy).
I figured I would start with my favorite category, landscapes and environment art. This is the art you’ll be seeing most of the time as it is pretty much in every area of the game (I assume so at least). In the piece to the left we can clearly see some overgrown ruins of some sort, which is cool, everyone likes ruins, but what I notice more immediately is the painterly like style the concept art has. Not all concept art is like that, which is a good thing in this case, as since it has painterly feel I can guess that the game will be somewhat art-orientated and a very major visual experience. But moving on from that topic, I enjoy the detail the sketch holds. The glistening bugs, the corpse, the little items put on the character, the tufts of grass sprouting out of places and even the attention to architecture. The sketch holds so much detail it sort of reminds me of—oh no I’m going to make a comparison—‘Skyrim.’
The second piece I decided to look at for landscape and environment art drifts away from decay to a livelier place, the city, and boy what a city it is. The plants at the top of the bridge reminds me of the hanging gardens of Babylon, the water down below is reminiscent of Venice, while the curved architecture reminds me of a cathedral. It’s like all those elements made a baby in what appears to be a cave for a truly unique looking city, one that I hope makes it to the final game. It’s great how layered the city looks too. It appears you could get easily lost in it, like a real city! I can already imagine the great confusion people will have looking for the weapons shop. It will be fantastic.
Moving on from environmental/landscape concept art we have character art, and what better character to look at than the main character. Now, I’ll be honest, character art to me is usually quite boring, but the main character’s art looks pretty solid. The main character still has largely dulled down colors like the rest of the art so far, but the detail in the armor is top notch. The armor includes patterns all around it that really tie the design together; furthermore, the armor actually looks like it would provide decent protection. Other character designs that follow seem to be digital renderings, so with that in mind they will look a bit cleaner cut than the previous pieces.
With the inclusion of NPCs I have to say that the characters seem well varied. They don’t look like they all stay with the medieval look, which is good and bad as it’s always a plus to have variety, but would be kind of weird if they were too varied (like a robot selling swords as your local medieval blacksmith). However, they aren’t too varied so that isn’t a problem. They include great texture and have original looking designs; furthermore, they include things here and there that make them really stand out. For example a giant feather hat or an extremely unsafe prehistoric looking backpack.
Finally I’m going to take a look at what I imagine most people will view as the really cool concept art, the enemy designs. There is a good amount of enemy designs, but all of them look like really rough sketches, therefore it is difficult to judge accordingly, but I will do my best. First off is what appears to be a large, 8-armed, man-beast of some sort wielding quite a few flaming swords. Now the weird thing in this piece is the lack of the head for the enemy (at least I assume that’s strange, I haven’t played ‘Dark Souls’ so maybe enemies are frequently headless). The only indication of a face is a rather dark rough area between the many arms. That being said I really like the concept: I mean, who needs a head? All jokes aside, I do enjoy this piece of concept overall it seems promising although the face stuck directly on the shoulders does bother me a little bit, but who knows? Maybe that’s what it’s supposed to do.
Second enemy concept piece is of a rather angry scorpion monster. The closest thing it resembles to me would be a manticore, but manticore’s have a lion’s body so that being said it appears this creature is of original design as far as I’m aware. The monster also has armor on so I think it’s safe to guess it is semi-intelligent and perhaps it could converse with you if you don’t strike it up wrong. Like the previous piece I will note the scorpion monster also looks quite large and bulky, as when you compare it to the human in the corner of the picture it looks about twice the size of them. It’s an interesting thing to note before we take a look at the final enemy concept I’m going to talk about, the dragon.
Now the dragon concept art is by far my favorite piece of concept art this game has, and that is solely because of one reason, how large they made the dragon. The dragon is gargantuan, if you look at what it’s perched on you will notice it is a castle! A castle! They made the dragon so large that it’s like one of the colossi from ‘Shadow of the Colossus’ except that it’s even larger. To fight this monstrosity in-game would be a battle of epic proportion. It looks like it could level cities easily, and honestly I have no idea how on earth you would be able to beat it (perhaps it’s like Smaug and dies after one hit to its weak spot). Although that sounds great, for some reason I doubt it will be that large in-game. I can hope, but only time will tell. Disappointingly, the dragon is the trite design they gave him. He looks too stereotypical. They could have had a much cooler design that was more unique, but it is only concept art so you can’t judge it too much.
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