After 200 hours of work, Dark Souls detective Lance McDonald recently uncovered all 46 of the third game's lore epitaphs. At the end of that video, McDonald promised some "absolutely WEIRD" stuff in the coming weeks. This now takes the form of the ARPG's axed Ceremony database—"a set of parameters DS3 uses to dynamically change the world state or time of day."
As outlined above, things start off fairly tame. Manually changing the time of day switches to a different 'Ceremony', which in practice sees the Cemetery of Ash flip to the Untended Graves—areas identical in likeness, with different enemy layouts and lighting. Likewise, Archdragon Peak is seen pre and post-storm; and the High Wall of Lothric is seen with the Dark Sign Eclipse triggered and untriggered.
As things progress, things get progressively weird. The 'Evening/Dusk' Ceremony offers a gorgeous, purple/pink sky texture that looks like this:
'Moonlit Night', as the name might suggest, plunges the world into darkness:
Whereas 'The Past' drains Lothric of colour further still. This monochrome setting might be my favourite.
'The Sun' cranks the light back up to 11.
While 'Eclipsed Night' portrays light and dark in concert.
And then things get super weird. Here's an excerpt from McDonald's narration: "Now, I did say we're saving the best till last and to do that we're heading to The Undead Settlement, which is the only map in the game where The Eclipse Ceremony is accompanied by a sky filled with creatures."
Skip to the 8-minute mark in the video above to see that in full. Otherwise, here's some screens.
McDonald continues: "And perhaps even more striking is that this same thing happens during the Sun Ceremony."
After pointing out that these flying beasts cast dynamic shadows, McDonald says: "It's hard to imagine how exactly the game was once planned to progress through these different world states—would the time of day just organically changed as you played through the game?
"And the more abstract ones, such as The Past, The Sun and The Eclipse Ceremonies certainly appear to be fairly climactic, which gives us a lot to think about with regards to how the game may have once been planned to end."
McDonald concludes by turning lore speculation and suggestions over to his viewers. I'll now do the same here: what the hell do you reckon is happening above, and how might it have impacted Dark Souls 3's overarching lore?