An upcoming Amnesia: The Dark Descent mod might retroactively fix the most disappointing area in Dark Souls 3. The Profaned Capital mod will make perfect sense to Dark Souls players, but even if you're not a Dark Souls series expert, you gotta admit that a horror game set in dark fantasy post-apocalypse sounds pretty rad.
First, let's catch everyone up: Continuing the tradition set by Lost Izalith in the original Dark Souls, one area in the back half of Dark Souls 3 doesn't quite feel finished. Upon exploring the depths beneath Irithyll, after wading through the aqueducts and dungeons and sewer giants, you'll find the Profaned Capital. What looked like a formerly prosperous city is now ruined and largely abandoned except for a few gargoyle automatons still defending its crumbling walls.
ABOVE: Turn to VaatiViyda for a deeper Profaned Capital lore interpretation.
But what looks to be a massive new area to explore amounts to a walkway and a boss room, where you fight Yhorm the Giant. He's bummed because by snuffing out the Profaned Capital's titular profaned flame, he basically set off a reaction that killed everyone in the city but him and a few lucky survivors. Nuked. Despair, death, corruption—thematically, we're comfortably straddling Dark Souls and Amnesia already.
The little left behind is still some good horror story stuff: a civilization corrupted and then eradicated by the power of the profaned flame (whatever it is). The silver, expressionless masks of the jailers and handmaidens still hanging around suggest it was once a glorious society overrun by occult powers, so whatever's still crawling around in the remains of the city probably isn't much friendlier.
The Profaned Capital story mod imagines what it would be like to explore those same ruins in the first-person horror game framework of Amnesia, sanity, tactile physics, and all. But you'll be exploring the Profaned Capital long after (or before?) the events of Dark Souls 3. What if we unearthed ruins from old Dark Souls games today, in this particular cycle of fire?
Here's the synopsis:
Edward Hädelberg, once a successful archeologist, is hired by an oligarch from Prussia to find an ancient capital in the Nordryggen mountains of the Norway. Lost capital was believed to be fallen underground during the Titan Wars in Scandinavic lands millenniums ago. Legends state that a huge amount of treasure is hidden within the ruins of the capital. Edward accepts the offer of 10,000 Thallers and heads to the Norway. A mysterious and dangerous adventure awaits Edward as he progresses through the lost dungeons full of abyssal creatures.
So yeah, it's still very Amnesia.
I gave the early demo available on the mod page a whirl, and while it's difficult to tell what the final thing will play like, I'm digging some of the ideas in there already. It's nicely paced, opening with a spooky mountainside exploration bit set during a snowstorm. You work your way into the belly of an ancient mountain and I love my horror with some cold, ancient mountains. And there, deep inside, splashing light against the crude stone walls is a bonfire, lighting up some extremely bummed adventurers. (Time and space don't behave normally around bonfires, so running into old-timey Dark Souls guys makes sense even if it doesn't.)
Some cute Dark Souls staples are integrated too: you'll pick up rings that augment stats, lost souls are scattered around as glowing orbs and work as currency with some merchants, and there's even a fog wall to traverse before the first dangerous stretch of the demo. I laughed pretty hard when I tried to open a door and a notice popped up to say, "Does not open from this side."
The mood is already there, I'm just curious about the narrative. Currently, existing NPC dialogue is used to voice the characters, so I hope to see them replaced or at least supported by originals. There's some interesting room to play with the convergence of our modern world with Dark Souls', but this is a pretty early demo. It definitely feels more like a compact testbed for early ideas rather than a finished piece of the whole hog.
Creator Rednie commented that development was nearly finished, so my fingers are crossed for October. I know we have another whole Amnesia game to play soon too, but a horror game interpretation of Dark Souls 3's most mysterious location is almost more appealing. It's that damn Elden Ring drought worming its deeper and deeper still.