Bonfire

Title

Bonfire

Subject

An object and location of significant mechanical and symbolic importance in Dark Souls.

Description

A small, lit bonfire with a rusted sword protruding from it. At the base of the fire is what appears to be ash and bones. The Bonfire acts as both a checkpoint and rest area for the player. If the player dies, they will respawn at the last bonfire they rested at. While resting at a bonfire, the player's health, spells, and Estus will be restored, and they are safe from all harm. While resting at a Bonfire, the player can take several actions that are often crucial for progressing through the game. One action of note is Kindling, which the player can do by offering Humanity to the bonfire. By doing so, the player will get more Estus when resting at the kindled Bonfire. The player, normally a Hollow, can also become human by offering Humanity to the Bonfire. A Bonfire can only be Kindled if the player is human.

Fire is one of the most important symbols in Dark Souls, and much of this is expressed by the importance of the Bonfire. The Bonfire's significant mechanical importance makes it an object players will always seek out, mirroring the way humanity is naturally drawn to light and warmth. This is reinforced by the nature of the world of Dark Souls. The player will find the world around them to be dark and unforgiving. Death is common and punishing, so players will be further motivated to seek these places of refuge and save their progress. Also important is the fact that the player can restore their humanity at Bonfires. Many consider the making of fire to be the very beginning of human civilization, and the importance of fire to civilization is integral to the backstory and themes of Dark Souls.

This explains why Bonfires are so important to the gameplay, but also highlights the tragedy of these Bonfires being almost the sole source of fire in this world. The player will occasionally find enemies wielding fire and come across areas filled with deadly lava, but aside from that, the only fire left in the world is found in these little Bonfires. This makes these places all the more valuable and comforting to the player, just as a warm fire is valuable and comforting to the mankind we know. The primary function of the Bonfire from a gameplay perspective is to provide a checkpoint for the player so they can eventually make forward progress through the game and get room to breathe. This function serves the additional narrative function of the Bonfire, which is to provide hope to the player. When the player reaches a Bonfire, they know they can get a break from the hardships of the game and continue forward without risk of losing all their progress. Even before reaching one, the player will naturally push through challenges to reach these places of refuge. Hope is fostered by the Bonfires. Just as the light of a fire will contrast darkness, this hope contrasts against the dour and unforgiving world of Dark Souls.

Creator

Hidetaka Miyazaki

Source

Dark Souls

Publisher

FromSoftware Inc.

Contributor

Damian Kortus

Format

Video Game

Type

Fantasy

Files

Bonfire.jpg

Citation

Hidetaka Miyazaki, “Bonfire,” The Museum of Fictional Literary Artifacts, accessed December 1, 2022, https://mfla.omeka.net/items/show/409.