*Sorry for the weirdly Kotaku/IGN-ish Blog title. Also, some very minor Souls series spoilers lie in wait to smash your face in like a boulder atop a staircase. You've been warned.
The Souls franchise has grasped our community in its clutches, as Vinny conquered Dark Souls and Brad makes his Crystal Lizard hunting way through Demon's Souls. Also, with a sequel looming on the horizon that will test our nerve yet again, I thought to myself why not look at one of the Souls series' oft-overlooked NPC staples.
No, I'm not talking about the Souls' version of the standard internet troll, Patches. An interesting character in his own right, Patches does embody the nature of players who may use messages to lure the determined yet uninitiated to jump to their doom off random cliffs. Alas, Patches will always be, "That dick who kicked me into a pit of death, then started selling me shit."
The NPC in question I speak of is in fact the Crestfallen Warrior. The Crestfallen Warrior (known here on as CrestBro for brevity sake) is unlike other NPCs in the series, as his goal is likely analogous to the player's. Most other NPCs have personal motives that drive them to reach their goals or meet their untimely fates. Also, unique to the CrestBro in both games is his role as a sullen guide to beginners. He sets you on the early path if you're willing to listen: in Demon's Souls he tells you to use the Archstones to amass the power necessary to gain power or to save Boletaria and in Dark Souls he tells you to ring the Bells of Awakening. He'll also depressingly deliver information on some of the other NPCs you'll meet, some of the places you'll see, game mechanics, and lightly jab you when you've failed. All pretty standard stuff...
...until you've proven yourself worthy enough to actually accomplish the weighty tasks that you've both seemingly have undertaken. In both games when you've realized certain goals, CrestBro will assume a more jealous and callous tone toward the player. Both characters give in to their depression: Demon's Souls' CrestBro believes the goals set before him to be futile, ultimately commits suicide. Whereas Dark Souls' equivalent finally succumbs to the almost too common fate of the Undead, and becomes a Hollow due to Frapmt's "stench." Being drunk on Haterade leads to shitty fate, now that's a life lesson if there ever was one.
I find these two small narrative arcs to be very compelling, as they seem to be an allegory to players who pick up the game and give up after repeated failures. The goal of the Souls games at the end of it all, is to overcome the challenges faced through experience, patience, and tenacity. Where the Crestbro has some experience, he lacks the other two qualities needed to progress further and just gives up. It gives the player a sense of accomplishment to supersede this tangible character (as other players are only encountered as phantoms,) all the while giving this entity added depth and ironically humanity. It makes me wonder how CrestBro may show up in Dark Souls II, if he does at all.
Hope you enjoyed this little write up, and I also look forward to Jolly Co-Operation with you fellow duders on March 11th. Also, don't forget to poor one out for the CrestBro...