From epic fail to epic music: music, silence and failure on 'Dark Souls 3'


  • Joana Freitas


Progression through a series of challenges, and the chance that players may lose, is one of the main mechanics used by many video game genres today. While a growing set of titles are exploring game development with mechanisms other than dying (such as walking simulators or narrative based games), others have gone so far as to be considered a genre in their own right. This has resulted in several forms of online content production by their cybercommunities, among other aspects of commercial success. This phenomenon is best known with regard to the Soulsborne RPG series, particularly the Dark Souls trilogy (From- Software, 2011-2016). Famous for its difficulty (and the fact that the player’s character dies many times), Dark Souls is often mentioned as a helpful or satirical benchmark to define another game’s level of challenge. Besides failure as design, however, Dark Souls’ sonic and musical accompaniment are a key factor in the narrative arc, player agency, and the construction of meaning. While the absence of non-diegetic music during the player’s navigation through the game world is commonly referred to as silence, each area and character has carefully designed sound spaces and cues which build a transdiegetic sonic threshold intrinsically related to the player’s (inter) action. In addition, musical accompaniment only features in boss encounters and rest areas, articulating all these spaces. This paper aims to examine the role of the aural components in Dark Souls and their engagement with the player’s agency while also being underscored by the orchestral soundtrack. Furthermore, this musical dimension has also attracted the attention of produsers, leading to the production of online resources, such as playlists and ambiance compilations. Its music is key, not only for player immersion and narrative definition, but also for the game’s commercial success and role in consolidating the epic style as a popular genre and its consequent circulation, mainly on YouTube.



Com citar

Freitas, J. (2020). From epic fail to epic music: music, silence and failure on ’Dark Souls 3’. Journal of Sound, Silence, Image and Technology, (3), 55–74. Retrieved from