Thursday, 1 August 2019

Video Game Character of the Month - August 2019 - Solaire of Astora - Dark Souls

Video Game Character of the Month
August 2019
Solaire of Astora
Dark Souls
While you may have taught us to 'praise the sun', don't think that we've forgotten to praise you! But while we can't get you your own sun (whatever that means), we can give you an award that shines like one. I am, of course, talking about the prestigious Video Game Character of the Month Award, now in its sixth (!) year! An award even tougher to achieve than beating Dark Souls itself. Praise the sun!
And now for a little bit of info on Solaire:
Warning: spoilers ahead

He is voiced by Daniel Flynn
He is a knight of Astora
He floats just above the ground, thereby appearing taller than the player
'Solaire' is French for 'Solar', or 'Sun' 
Solaire's armour is reminiscent of King Arthur's armour in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, both of which have green and white colours, a mail coat and a sun symbol on the front
He has light brown hair
He purposefully became Undead so that he could visit Lordran
This is part of his quest to find a sun of his own
He believes that his fate is intertwined with the Chosen Undead's (the player)
He explains summoning to the Chosen Undead
He gives the White Sign Soapstone to the Chosen Undead
He is in utter awe of the sun
He is extremely jovial - in great contrast to the cynical natures of the other characters in Dark Souls
He is a member of the Warrior of Sunlight Covenant
It was theorised that he was Lord Gwyn's firstborn but this theory has been discredited as The Nameless King in Dark Souls 3 is now thought to fulfil this position
It is now thought that Solaire is merely a faithful knight to Gwyn's firstborn, as the Warriors of Sunlight worship both the sun (Gwyn) and the exiled god of war (Gwyn's firstborn)
Solaire's red feather motif might be a homage to the red plume of Ornstein, the captain of Gwyn's knights
He drops 1,500 souls, 2 Humanity, a Sunlight Straight Sword, Sunlight Talisman, Sunlight Shield and the Iron and Sun Set of armour
He is equipped with the Iron and Sun Set, the Sunlight Shield (left hand), the Sunlight Straight Sword and Sunlight Talisman (right hand), the Orange Charred Ring and the Lightning Spear and Great Heal spells
The Orange Charred Ring (a ring which is found just before Lost Izalith, and reduces lava damage) hints at Solaire's later journey into Lost Izalith
Killing Solaire will not affect the player's position within the Warrior of Sunlight Covenant
He can either help the player defeat Lord Gwyn or...
Can go insane due to a Sunlight Maggot (or his desperation to complete his goal) in Lost Izalith, depending on how the player enters Lost Izalith
If insane, he will attack the Chosen Undead, and is the only un-aggravated Undead NPC to do this without being Hollow
If he survives a boss fight after being summoned, he will give you a Sunlight Medal
He has become a fan favourite in the Dark Souls community
He has an amiibo
He praises the sun
He is referenced in Borderlands 2 as an armoured man named 'Solitaire' sitting next to a mock bonfire
He is referenced in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor as a follower named 'Soulaire of Andorhal'

Origin of Solaire:
Out of universe: he is one of the many characters associated with the sun in Dark Souls, such as Lord Gwyn and his offspring. The sun is linked with life, fire and nobility. His design appears to be based on classic Western European knights, as well as taking inspiration from Monty Python and the Holy Grail's King Arthur. His 'praise the sun' gesture was originally a rare holy gesture in Demon's Souls used when casting a miracle while wearing the Ring of Sincere Prayer. It was secretly kept in the game by the game's director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, despite him being told by the game's publishers that the pose was not 'cool enough'. This clash caused the gesture to gain personal significance to him and he created Solaire to bring attention to the pose. Therefore, Solaire is the first truly helpful NPC that most players see in the game, so as to make him a 'champion' both of the pose and for the player. He is also Miyazaki's favourite character, and Miyazaki even designed the sun emblem on his chest, personally.
In-universe: not much is known about Solaire's past, except that he is a from Astora, a kingdom known for their high-ranking knights, royalty and craftsmen. The first time the Chosen Undead meets him is at the Undead Burg, right after defeating the Taurus Demon. Here, Solaire introduces himself and explains summoning to the Chosen Undead (well, explains it as much as anything is explained in the Souls games) and gives the player a White Sign Soapstone which can be used to enter another player's world as a friendly phantom.

Evolution of Solaire:
Out of universe: Solaire quickly became a fan favourite among the Dark Souls community, primarily due to his jovial nature (which contrasts heavily with most of the other, more cynical characters) and the quest to save him from his horrific fate. In addition, he succeeded in his task of promoting the 'praise the sun' gesture, and this gesture is now one of the most popular in Dark Souls and, with its name, become a well-known reference to Dark Souls itself, even to people outside of the community. This is proved by the creation of a Solaire amiibo that is compatible with Dark Souls Remastered on the Nintendo Switch. The amiibo, which shows Solaire performing his famous gesture would cause the player to gain the gesture from the beginning of the game, without having to unlock it. Not the greatest use of amiibo ever but, also, perhaps the best ever thought up.
In-universe: after Undead Burg, Solaire can be found in Anor Londo, sitting next to a Bonfire after the Dragonslayer Silver Knight archers (enemies that still make me shiver with horror). He can also be found beside the Sunlight Altar Bonfire in the Undead Parish (this is the only optional encounter which doesn't affect the progression of his storyline) and, after beating the Centipede Demon, Solaire shows up at the bonfire on the borders of Lost Izalith. AND THERE HE STOPS! What? I have to explain what happens to him? No, please, not that... oh, fine. Solaire will then meet his demise on the bridge in Lost Izalith, between the Titanite Demon and the Chaos Servant door. He will attack the player while wearing a Sunlight Maggot, which he mistook for his own sun (warning: this is not a recommended path to enlightenment). Either the huge bug, or his own overpowering desire to find his sun, has turned him insane and the player must fight and kill him. Miyazaki has stated that this ending is the true ending for Solaire. However...
He can be saved! Praise the sun! There are a few ways to do this. The player must join the Daughter of Chaos covenant and give The Fair Lady 30 humanity to open the Chaos Servant Door, and then kill all nine Sunlight Maggots, before defeating the Bed of Chaos. Solaire will survive and can be found by the Chaos Servant door shortcut, depressed over his quest for his sun. Speaking to him here will allow him to be summoned for the final boss. You can also kill the Sunlight Maggot by using the Poison Mist Pyromancy, White Dragon Flame or Dragon Greatsword's two-handed special attack (and possibly other area-of-effect attacks) by attacking the Chaos Servant door. The attack will go through the door and kill the Maggot, thereby saving Solaire. The player can then go and find Solaire by the bonfire in Lost Izalith and then can summon him before the Gwyn fight. Or, you can not talk to Solaire in Anor Londo, or any place before that, which will cause him to not appear in Lost Izalith. Then the player must kill the Sunlight Maggot before going through Solaire's locations and progressing his questline. There is a theory that if Solaire survives and helps to kill Gwyn, then he will link the fire (thereby continuing the Age of Fire) for his own world. However, this is unconfirmed.
Solaire can be summoned at these locations: before entering the Bell Gargoyles' white fog; above the last staircase before the Gaping Dragon; in the hall, before Ornstein and Smough, on the stairs to the left; just outside the white fog wall leading to the Centipede Demon boss and at the top of the stairs leading down to Gwyn (if he survived Lost Izalith).

Dark Souls: released (Japan) on September 22nd, 2011/(North America) on October 4th, 2011/(Australia) on October 6th, 2011/(Europe) on October 6th, 2011 on Playstation 3/Xbox 360/(Australia) on August 23rd, 2012/(North America/Europe) on August 24th, 2012/(Japan) on October 25th, 2012 on PC
Dark Souls Remastered: released (Japan) on May 24th, 2018, (World Wide) on May 25th, 2018 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One/(World Wide) on October 19th, 2018 on Nintendo Switch

Referenced in:
Borderlands 2: released (North America) on September 18th, 2012/(Australia) on September 20th, 2012/(Europe) on September 21th, 2012 on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360/(World Wide) on November 21st, 2012 on OS X/(North America) on May 13th, 2014/(Australia) on May 28, 2014/(Europe) on May 30th, 2014 on PlayStation Vita/(World Wide) on September 30th, 2014 on Linux/(World Wide) on July 20th, 2016 on Android/(North America) on March 24th, 2015/(World Wide) on March 27th, 2015 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor: released (World Wide) on November 13th, 2014

That's all on Solaire of Astora, but, as always, if I've made a mistake or forgotten anything, then please don't hesitate to comment! And let us know who you want to win the award next month! Until then, praise the sun!

Goodbye for now, Harry


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