To play Dark Souls is to seek victory in a land defined by failure. Lordran, the game's fictional kingdom, is dying. The once-great gods have abandoned their bastions, fleeing a world in desperate need of a savior. Every crumbling city stands as a sad reminder of what could have been; echoes of progress all but forgotten. A plague of undeath curses those who remain, reducing their existence to a cycle of death, rebirth, and slowly hollowing souls. Everyone who travels to Lordran is doomed to meet a cruel fate, but that doesn't stop people from trying.
Dark Souls has a surprisingly deep cast. They're a sad lot. Each character players encounter is dying, broken, or in the midst of a crisis. But despite the dire circumstances of their existence, these wayward adventurers are brimming with personality. They are warriors, healers, and scholars -- people who would be destined for greatness in any other kingdom. In Lordran, however, they're doomed. Through a combination of oblique storytelling and nihilistic inevitability, Dark Souls' characters are among the most interesting NPCs in recent memory.
It's high time someone ranked them.