Complete List of Influences on Souls Games

Complete List of Influences on Souls Games

2005- 2024
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In creating the Souls games, Hidetaka Miyazaki took inspiration from real sources and various media formats like movies, books, games, and manga.

Discover below the abundant wealth of sources that inspired him in creating his masterpieces.

Inspiration from Berserk

The influence of the manga Berserk is prevalent in all of Miyazaki's games, from Demon's Souls up to Elden Ring. To avoid overshadowing all the other sources of inspiration, the Berserk influences are placed in this separate entry - Complete List of Berserk Influences on Souls Games.

Inspiration from Real Places

Miyazaki and his team visit locations in various countries during the planning and design stage of their game development. Some of the countries they visited in the past are Italy (Dark Souls), France (Dark Souls), London (Bloodborne), and others.

Anor Londo is inspired by the Milan Cathedral

Anor Londo is one of the most memorable locations in Dark Souls. It is where the player meets the best boss duo in the game series, Ornstein and Smough. This location is inspired by the Milan Cathedral.

Miyazaki: There was a lot that I wanted to include in Anor Londo. I wanted it to be like a player's reward after surviving Sen's Fortress. Also, I wanted it to be an area with no clear roads, where the player has to walk in places that you would not normally walk, like the buttresses

Waragai: We had the vision of walking on buttresses from the beginning. Their primary purpose is to support the walls so they can construct them even higher, but when I went and visited the Cathedral in Milan, I walked and observed beneath the buttresses. I thought, "wouldn't it be fun if we could walk on them?"

Miyazaki: There was an additional goal I wanted to achieve with Anor Londo. The previous game I directed, Demon's Souls, was based in the early Middle Ages, so it was very challenging to collect reference materials for the area designs. Dark Souls is based on a later period, so with Anor Londo, I had the chance to create an area that looks more cohesive and full of details that were not possible in Demon's Souls.

New Londo is inspired by Mont Saint-Michel in France

New Londo is a dark, gloomy place full of ghosts and water. After the player drains the water, the rest of the location becomes unlocked. This location is inspired by Mont Saint-Michel in France.

Miyazaki: We used a slightly different approach with the New Lond ruins, basing it firmly on existing architecture, to be specific, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Of course, they are not exactly the same, but the similarities are apparent if you observe and compare the two.

It is much easier and faster for the planners, designers, and 3D artists to begin with references from real life that to start from scratch. Real things contain a combination of influences, ideas, and information, that I wanted to use this approach for Dark Souls.

Of course, some things worked better than others, but I believe, in the end, we made something that would not have been possible if we began from scratch. Even with the areas that didn't result as I have expected, it was still a very successful experiment.

Demon Ruins and Lost Izalith are inspired by Angkor Wat of Cambodia

Angkor Wat is a wonderful location that has been used as an inspiration by games like Diablo II and Tomb Raider. Demon ruins and Lost Izalith are both inspired by this. 

Miyazaki: The demons are all derived from the idea of Chaos, but we had to think hard on how to express that image on a map. We decided to present it with an Oriental theme. I'm worried people might take this view the wrong way, but Oriental things possess a kind of Chaos. To express it differently, they lack a kind of serenity or order, and that is what I wanted to capture. An excellent sample of this is found at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the areas adjacent to it, where East and West Asia meet.

Inspiration from Movies

The Duke's Archives is inspired by Harry Potter

Who could have guessed that Miyazaki is a Harry Potter fan? The movies will influence Miyazaki not just for the Duke's Archives, but for one major NPC as well.

Miyazaki: Yes, the revolving stairs are from the movie Harry Potter. I was really interested in including a library or archive, but honestly, I would have liked to dedicate more time to some aspects of the area.

Knowll Insight: Miyazaki has long wanted to create a Library location in his games, even as early as Demon's Souls. However, it was only realized in Dark Souls, and later on, repeated in a much grander scale in Dark Souls III.

Here is the detail in one of his oldest interviews in Japan, just one month after the release of Demon's Souls.

Interviewer: How many "leftover" or abandoned world ideas for the game did you have at the end?

Miyazaki: I have plenty of ideas during the early design stage that got excluded near the end of development. The world ideas that almost made it to the final product are the Library stage and Outside area around the Nexus.

Great Hollow and Ash Lake are inspired by the film Avatar

Avatar was the highest-grossing film of 2009. It is no wonder that Miyazaki has seen it. In the movie, there is a giant tree that served as the habitat of the Navi tribe. This tree and its surroundings influenced the design of the Great Hollow and Ash Lake.

Miyazaki: These two locations were entirely created by the designers, with almost no concept work. I had a clear vision of both areas from the start, and as work progressed, I continuously modify that to keep up with other areas we were creating. Most of the work was implemented straight from the rough map, but there is also more than a little Avatar in there, I believe. Of course, if the area didn't progress as much, I would have had the artists design some concept art, but it was not needed in the end.

Knowll Insight: The film Avatar was released in Dec 2009, just in time when Dark Souls was gaining momentum in planning, design, and development. 

Sieglinde is inspired by Emma Watson's Harry Potter character, Hermione

Sieglinde is a major NPC in the game. She never removed her helmet, though. She is inspired by Hermione from Harry Potter.

Waragai: In the end, she appeared utterly different, but at a certain point, you asked me to make her look like Hermione.

Miyazaki: Huh? Did I say that? I think I would have asked for Emma Watson. Anyway, I don't believe she ended up resembling anyone in particular.

Waragai: Yes, you definitely said it. I remember it because I am also her fan.

Otsuka: Well, I had a gut feel and expected that a good looking man and beautiful woman would emerge from that armor.

Miyazaki: Quite early in the development, I was actually talking about our game abroad, when I blurted out something about her being beautiful. Once I had done that, I couldn't go back on my word, could I?

Bloodborne is inspired partly by the film Brotherhood of the Wolf

Miyazaki: I was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's book, The Call of Cthulhu. Anyone who played Bloodborne will likely know that I was really influenced by Lovecraft and this work.

Other sources of inspiration were horror, of course, and the film Brotherhood of the Wolf.

Knowll Insight: The clothes worn by the hunter in Bloodborne and used in most promotional videos and screenshots look like the clothes worn by the heroes in the film.

The Crystal Ring Shield is inspired by Ultraman's Special Attack

Knowll Insight: In the conversation below, Miyazaki shares how he felt frustration in having one of the special shields in Dark Souls to have a feature similar to one of Ultraman's signature attacks.

Satake: I like the equipment that releases that eerie glow.

Miyazaki: Are you referring to the Crystal Ring Shield? Honestly, I was not entirely happy with how that turned out.

Waragai: Perhaps, but I believe it's a really great design.

Satake: If you mix it with the Moonlight Greatsword, it looks fantastic.

Waragai: Similar to Ultraman's Ultra Slash, right?

Miyazaki: Yes, that's right! That is exactly how I explained it to the artist, but he was not really sure and had no idea what I was talking about. I truly felt the generation gap when that happened.

Ash Lake is inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Knowll Insight: Miyazaki did not directly state that Ash Lake was inspired by the film Nausicaa. However, many fans have noticed the similarities of the areas, both visually and contextually. Both have a very similar appearance, and, equally important, both are covered by a poisonous swamp above them. 

Inspiration from Manga

Gwynevere is inspired by a manga character

Gwynevere is one of the popular NPCs in the game. She is inspired by a character in the manga Yasuragi no Yakata. 

Miyazaki: Honestly, I just wanted to add in the game a truly big woman. I believe it was in the manga Fujiko F. Fujio where there was a company president who joins an exclusive club to get away from his stressful work life. There was this giant woman who takes care of all these members, almost like a mother. Isn't that a perfect situation? A giant, considerate, and caring woman, the kind we all lost while growing up. That's what I wanted to add in the game.

Speaking of glamour, her breasts have nothing to do with me. They occurred without my knowledge. It's all the artist's fault. I believe I mentioned earlier that I always aim for a certain refinement in all my designs.

Waragai: You don't say?

Miyazaki: Indeed, but the artist had such a joyful look on his face, and I didn't have the heart to stop him.

Siegmeyer's Catarina Armor is inspired by Bazuso of Berserk

Knowll Insight: Berserk has a large influence on the works of Miyazaki, and we are sharing only one here, as it is directly stated by Miyazaki.

Miyazaki: The Catarina armor was designed by Mr. Waragai. During that time, I requested him to produce some fantasy armor, and among his designs was a large, overweight person like Bazuso from Berserk. It was truly distinctive with a spherical, onion-shaped helmet. I liked it immediately. After we began working on Dark Souls, and I outline Siegmeyer's character, the design seemed like a perfect fit, so we just used it as it was.

The Warrior Class is inspired by Parn from Record of Lodoss War

Miyazaki: For the warrior class, we wanted to innovate and move away from the traditional soldier class present in Demon's Souls and instead aim for something more like an adventurer. We based the design on relatively simple image words of leather armor with metal plating, and I suppose, a little inspiration from Parn of Record of Lodoss War.

The Thorn Armour is inspired both by the mangas Saint Seiya and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Satake: With regards to equipment, I remember the Thorn Armour. It did not start well at all.

Miyazaki: Oh, yes, I was quite rude about the early designs that reached me. I apologized. Initially, I asked for something similar to Hydra from Saint Seiya. I like the sad story of that character, to go on such a harsh training to gain his holy armor, but after all that, his special ability amounts to just some claws attached to his hands. You would feel tragic, wouldn't you? We discussed that a lot, but our perspective for the armor did not match, so we spent a long time working on it.

Satake: My first design was a large guy covered in spikes, but that was not what you pictured at all, was it?

Miyazaki: The character began to take share when we started discussing about the Trial of the 77 Rings from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. At the beginning of the manga, there are two characters called Tarkus and Bruford, who, in order to gain their knighthood, had to overcome the Trial of the 77 Rings. Each contestant wears a metal ring, and the winner will earn that of the loser, adding it to his own. They have to win and defeat 77 opponents. However, with each victory, the number of rings they have to carry increases. It's an excellent idea, so we began talking about what it would be like to attach thorns to those rings. The final character was a little different, but that's where it really started to come together.

Lady Butterfly is inspired by strong female ninjas in the manga Basilisk

Knowll Insight: In one of his interviews, Miyazaki shared some of the backgrounds of the characters in Sekiro. He shares below how he got the inspiration for Lady Butterfly.

Miyazaki: I am quite fascinated and love all of these kinds of old Japanese ninja tales created by the likes of mangaka Yamada Futaro, who, for example, had a depiction of a strong, old Japanese ninja grandma. I really like Basilisk, and Yamada Futaro is the original author of this series. I had a super-strong granny character, and I really just wanted to have such characters in my game.

Bloodborne and Sekiro are both inspired by the manga Blade of the Immortal

Miyazaki: If I had to select one, a small inspiration would be Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal. This is another manga. It was actually a small source of inspiration for some parts of Bloodborne as well. This manga is something I quite enjoy. The weapons are awesome and cool.

Inspiration from Real People

The Mimic's kick is inspired by the wrestler Super Tiger.

One of the popular monsters in the Dark Souls series is a monster called a Mimic. Miyazaki shares below where they got the inspiration for the monster's powerful kick, which can send a hero flying to his death.

Miyazaki: Yes, that is actually Super Tiger's Rolling Sobat. I believe I recall saying that Super Tiger's story is one of the best ever told, although I suppose that is not really relevant here.

Domhnall of Zena is inspired by King Henry VIII's helmet

Knowll Insight: Miyazaki never stated directly that Domhnall's helmet was patterned after King Henry VIII's helmet shown in the picture above. However, the similarity is there, and it is pretty much obvious. In addition, it is indirectly confirmed as you can infer in the conversation below between Miyazaki and Waragai, Domnhnall armor's main designer.

Waragai: Originally, we envisioned him as an illusive purveyor of unusual and rare objects.

Miyazaki: Yes, a character like him is actually quite easy to fit into the game. You can easily place him anywhere and move him wherever you want to. Mr. Waragai handled the character design, but it was not until he added the glasses that the character started to emerge.

Waragai: Indeed. Yes, there are actually several sample armor with glasses attached to them, so I used one of those as a base for my design. At first glance, the appearance may look eccentric, but his armor is very common in Central Europe during the late Middle Ages, having just chainmail, a surcoat, and leather boots.

Miyazaki: I was actually adamant that he should be carrying lots of things. I think Waragai performed an admirable job. Even in the current state of Lordran where money has lost its value, Domhnall still holds onto these precious objects and carries them along.

Inspiration from Books and Board Games

Bloodborne is inspired partly by Lovecraft's book, The Call of Cthulhu

Miyazaki: I was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's book, The Call of Cthulhu. Anyone who played Bloodborne will likely know that I was really influenced by Lovecraft and this work.

Quelaag is inspired by a character in Dragon Pass

Miyazaki: Quelaag is another character that I always had a pretty clear picture of. Actually, there is an old board game called Dragon Pass that I truly love, and in this game, there is a particular unit called the Crag Spider. It really is just a tiny chip with the name, parameters, and a small silhouette, however, for some reason, it truly stayed with me. Although she developed into something really different, this is where the inspiration for her character came from.

Miyazaki's Roots in Fantasy come from Adventure Game Books

Miyazaki: The roots of my fantasy ideas are in Sorcery, by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, the adventure gamebooks.

While growing up as a kid, reading is what I truly loved. I enjoyed reading books that were beyond my understanding. I always explored and tried to aim higher and read advanced books. What typically happens is, although I could read them, sometimes, and this is because I was young, I couldn't read too deep into them. Sometimes I would understand only half of the story. Then, my imagination would help fill the other half, and that imaginary part would just blow up. I find this experience to be truly enjoyable, as well, where I fill the gaps of what I didn't understand in my reading, where my imagination took me eventually to be convinced that I understood what I was reading.