When you get the Basement Key from the steps leading up to the church, you realise that you’re going to have to go back to where you met Solaire and unlock a door that will take you down to the gloom of the Lower Undead Burg. This area is filled with burning rubbish and long-knifed thieves. And dogs.
Capra’s attack dogs teach you a gameplay lesson, sure: you want to kill them in one hit, so you’ll want to upgrade your weapon, learn something about scaling or how to buff. But essentially they are nasty, mindless fast moving pests, who can do real damage if you don’t know how to deal with them.
But isn’t there something deeply sad about attack dogs? Bred and nurtured for aggression, trained to bite and snarl and harm, one can imagine their devotion to one human, or one hollow of a human, the same human who trains them to fight what they don’t understand through fear, through conditioning, through empty promises.
What goes through your mind as you try to fight these bounding hell hounds? As they bounce off your shield, as you are momentarily stunlocked by their attacks, as your estoc powerfully thrusts into the air above their heads? Do you want them dead, gone, ragdolled and swept into the air? Or do you wish you could avoid them, run past them to the boss? Do you curse their jaws or the hand that let them slip, rushing towards you?
The authentic selfhood of these creatures is suppressed. It’s not easy to see how their authentic selves can be properly expressed in the nasty conditions they find themselves in, corralled by corruption and venomous intentions. Authentic selfhood is not an easy thing to want, either. It’s easier to throw up your hands – sorry, paws – and say, this world is not of my creating, these conditions are not ideal, things are fine the way they are. You might even get angry at those around you who, in their own flawed and pitiful ways, are attempting human being. They might want peace, openness and fairness. Antagonism, anonymity and aggression are a response worthy of a dog of war. So the response to surrender and meekness is scratching and biting and the response to sharing is doxxing.
It’s hard for me to believe in religious conversions nowadays. But you hear of fighting dogs with histories of violence being settled in happy homes, making humans part of their pack. So we hope that human being, in time, comes to all, with peace, love and understanding.