Any new player to the Dark Souls franchise will quickly realize that enemies will come back to life when you die or rest at a fire. Respawning enemies have been the source of many broken controllers and angry gamers over the years.
There are two main reasons that enemies respawn in Dark Souls. The first is that it makes the gameplay more difficult and interesting. The second reason is that they respawn for lore reasons.
There are several lore reasons why this could be the case, but even those have some contradictions to them. A lot of people debate about why, so I’ll explain all the reasons as best as I can.
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As you probably know, the Dark Souls series has a lot of supernatural aspects, such as undead and curses. The protagonist of the first Dark Souls game is referred to as the Chosen Undead, who is the prophesied champion that will appear at the end of the Age of Fire.
Being undead is a huge plot point about the game. Basically, undeath is a curse that was created by Gwy, Lord of Cinder, and causes the victim to continually come back to life when they die.
To put it simply, the enemies come back to life because they are undead. Now, this creates even more questions than it answers, like why don’t certain NPCs respawn? or why don’t mini-bosses and bosses respawn?
The NPCs don’t always respawn because many of them aren’t undead. This doesn’t apply to essential NPCs though, because killing them would be game-breaking. Besides the essential ones, many other ones can be killed or die as part of a questline. The rules of the undead curse don’t seem to apply to them for whatever reason.
Why don’t bosses respawn?
Well, the simple answer to this question is that bosses just aren’t undead. Therefore, the rules of the undead don’t apply to them, and they don’t respawn when they die.
Gwyn, the final boss of the first game, is the reason the undead curse even existed in the first place, there’s no reason for him to be undead. All of the bosses usually have something special about them, but none of them have the undead curse as far as I know.
If one of them did happen to have that curse, it really wouldn’t matter. In reality, bosses that respawned would be extremely annoying. The developers have made the game hard enough, so I doubt they’d make it so difficult that bosses would come back to life.
The number one reason bosses don’t respawn is that it simply wouldn’t be a good gameplay mechanic. I don’t think there’s any complicated lore around it besides the fact that they’re not under any curse that forces them to be reanimated. We shouldn’t read into it too much, and just accept the fact that Dark Souls is a great series with some excellent bosses.
The game would be boring without it
The number one reason enemies respawn is that it makes the game better. Some players argue that this is the only reason, and they have a pretty strong argument for it.
Dark Souls has so much lore stuffed into it that not everything is easy to figure out. One thing you can’t deny though is that there are some enemies that respawn and some that don’t. There doesn’t appear to be any consistency between whether they’re hollows or not, which just goes to show that the main reason they respawn is for the sake of gameplay.
Do you think Dark Souls would be as difficult as it is if the enemies disappeared every time you defeated them? Definitely not. That reminds me of Dark Souls 2 (my least favorite title in the series), where enemies won’t respawn if you kill them enough times. Eventually, I would blaze through the difficult parts by repeatedly defeating the difficult enemies.
If enemies didn’t respawn after dying, you’d beat them a single time and never have to worry about them again. You’d breeze through every area in the game, and the world would only become easier as you slowly cleared it out.
I for one am glad that there isn’t any easy way through the game. People may complain that there’s not an easy mode for casuals, but that would kind of ruin the main appeal of the game: the challenge. A Dark Souls game without any challenge would be extremely boring and pointless.
After every Souls game I completed, I’d stare at the screen watching the credits roll, feeling triumphant, but a little sad at the same time. The game I put so many hours and attempts into was finally over, but I wished it weren’t. The games that made me rage and pull my hair out have been some of the only games that I was disappointed to finish.
The point of a Dark Souls game is for you to figure out the path on your own, overcoming every obstacle that gets in your way. This game is for people who like a challenge, and the enemies respawning are one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. Love it or hate it, that respawning mechanic is one of the many reasons that the Dark Souls series is so highly regarded.
To briefly summarize my point, enemies respawn and bosses don’t respawn because it improves the gameplay. Yes, there may be a few lore reasons why this is the case, but don’t think about these aspects too long, and enjoy exploring these amazing worlds.