Dark Cloud: A Tale of Forgiveness

Dark Cloud is an adventure role-playing game developed by Level-5 in 2000 that has a small following behind it and its sequel, Dark Cloud 2 (otherwise known as Dark Chronicle in Japan). The story of Dark Cloud is relatively simple—a boy named Toan is unexpectedly sent out of his village of Norune by the Fairy King on a quest to stop the Dark Genie’s destruction of the world—but the story is deep on different levels. One could argue that the story of Dark Cloud could be a story of a lone hero, a coming of age story, or a tale of lost love. Despite these possibilities, the focus of this study will be on the game containing a theme of forgiveness. For reference, forgiveness is defined by merriam-webster.com as “to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone).”

During Toan’s first trial, which presents itself in the form of Dran’s Cave, he encounters a man who taunts Toan’s ability, noting, “‘No doubt, that is the legendary Atlamillia. A treasure from the Gods that only the worthy can possess.'” This man is named Seda, and he asks Toan to hand over the stone, but Toan refuses, which triggers a duel with Seda. Before the duel, Seda says:

Seda
Seda shortly before his duel with Toan

“‘So you intend to use that stone to restore the world…but even if you restore the world, the destruction could repeat itself unless you defeat the Dark Genie. Unfortunately, such a task is beyond your abilities. It is a being powerful enough to destroy the world in an instant. No man or weapon can stand and face it alone…I’ve come to this place or rather this time for that stone…I need that stone. More than you do actually.'”

Seda tests Toan’s worth by attacking him after their duel. Toan, instead of dodging the attack, guards against it for the sake of a stray cat who wandered into the dungeon. This act gains some of Seda’s approval, as he remarks, “’…It’s not that you couldn’t dodge…you simply didn’t dodge. Deliberately. I think I’m beginning to see why the Fairies chose you.’”

Goro
Goro the Hunter

The Acceptance of Truth

With this remark from seemingly a lesser, more passive-aggressive threat than the Dark Genie in mind, Toan moves on with his quest, to Matataki Villiage, where he meets a hunter named Goro. Goro is a young, brash boy who instantly attacks Toan upon meeting him, thinking that Toan is a villain, as he remarks, “’You must be with that monster that ruined the village. I know I’m right! You can’t lie to me. That face of yours, it’s a villain’s face.’” Toan reluctantly fights Goro, and later discovers from Treant that Goro is troubled by the loss of his father. Goro hardens his heart against his sorrow, as seen from Treant’s answer to Toan’s question about the boy living in the tree, “’That must be Goro. No one likes him. Got a rotten personality. He’s been that way ever since his dad Fudoh passed away. He didn’t used to be that way. He was a kind-hearted kid.’”

Once Toan restores the village gleeman’s house, he learns from Cacao that Fudoh was greatly respected among the villagers, to the point he was worshiped as a guardian deity, but rumors surfaced that Fudoh was bested in battle by a monster called the Killer Snake. While venturing through Matataki’s Wise Owl Forest, Toan encounters the Killer Snake and battles with it. When Toan kills the snake, he finds the Bone Pendant. Through the Bone Pendant, Goro meets his father’s spirit and learns the truth about his father’s final days:

Fudoh
Fudoh, Goro’s father

“’Forgive me for having suddenly left you all alone…my body was being gradually weakened by an illness. And I realized I had very little time left for myself. I was a prideful Hunter. My pride would not allow me to die of illness. I wanted to die in battle as a Hunter should. One day, I went into the woods where the fearful Killer Snake dwelt, taking with me several villagers. I thought the powerful Killer Snake would be the perfect opponent to end my career as a Hunter. But, deep inside, I wanted to die in this battle. That very hunt was my plan to end my life with pride.’”

Goro has some initial denial when listening to Fudoh’s spirit, and becomes enraged by discovering the truth. He lashes out at Fudoh, saying, “‘I hate you!'” Despite his exclamation, as Fudoh crosses over into the other world, Goro cries. After Fudoh is gone, Goro tells Toan, “‘Me, saving the world? Not likely. But I want to give it a shot, anyway. Not for the villagers or Dad…But for me! I’ll fight for me!'” In a strange way, Goro forgives his father by deciding to move forward with his life. This willingness to stand on his own two feet and decide his own fate shows some growth in Goro that likely would not have happened if he hadn’t have met with and forgiven his father. Goro promises to become a “Mighty Hunter of Legend”, which may be his way of honoring his father’s memory.

Overlooking Past Mistakes

In the third town, Queens, Toan meets a merchant named Rando who has connections to the boss of the third dungeon. The third dungeon is a Shipwreck in Queens Sea, which Rando admits that most merchants use as a warehouse for their goods. However, Rando has a deeper connection with Shipwreck than just plundering it for his shop, as learned from the manager of the cathedral. Once the cathedral is restored, the priest, Phil, tells of the cathedral’s curse:

“‘For a hundred years, we didn’t have any weddings in this Cathedral. In Queens nobody wants to have a wedding here. It is because any couples who had their wedding here always end up separating…This is a story my grandfather told me. One hundred years ago, this town was a kingdom ruled by a queen called La Saia. La Saia was only eighteen when she ascended the throne. The people all trusted her and revered her as a great ruler…Then, one day she fell in love with a young man in town. The queen and a commoner…The two hid their love from the world for a long time. Finally, they decided to have a wedding ceremony. Yes, in this very church deep in the night when all were asleep…But on that night the groom did not appear, as was promised. Dressed in white, she continued to wait, believing he’d come. Night after night, she continued to wait. But, her love never came. The loss of her love was too much to bear…she threw herself in the ocean. That’s when the curse began.'”

The dungeon’s third boss is known as the Ice Queen La Saia. She remarks, “’My…My bitterness lives on…’” The Ice Queen suffers from heartache that causes her to lash out at any who encounters her. She is not willing to let go of her pain of losing her loved one.

Once the battle with La Saia is over, Rando appears, which causes the queen to recount her longing to go back to the day of the wedding. She realized she didn’t care about the difference in her status compared to Rando’s, but the longer she waited for her love to appear, the colder her heart became. She exclaims that she just wanted to see her love one more time and wasn’t really bitter toward Rando.

La Saia and Rando
La Saia, queen of Queens and Rando

In a sense, the Ice Queen was able to look past the mistakes of Rando and forgive him for the pain he had caused her over the years. Likewise, Rando realizes the mistake he made in the past and sets things right again. One could argue that Rando had to forgive himself before he could work up enough courage to correct his mistake. As a result, La Saia and Rando are able to go back in time to their wedding day and have their second chance.

Forgiveness Through Understanding

The final examples of forgiveness that can be found in Dark Cloud are in the final moments of the game. Toan is confronted by Seda again, only this time, Seda explains that the Dark Genie is inside of him. Seda recounts:

“’He was born here in this castle, long, long ago. This is where the four-hundred-year nightmare began. And this monster was created by…me…I was the King of the East. I fought the West to defend the people…I could see our defeat on the horizon. Then a dark lord came to me with a deal. If the blood of a witch is mixed with the blood of a human, a terrible power is born. ‘If you use this power your victory is assured…’ he said…I had to make a decision to save my kingdom…I searched feverishly for ways to erase my error…the Dark Genie. I used a forbidden spell to travel four hundred years to this time. To obtain Atlamilla, that legendary gem. Believing that Atlamillia could seal off the power of the Dark Genie.’”

Seda further explains that his attempt to use the Atlamilla to seal the Genie away was useless, as the stone may not have enough power within it to do so. He assures Toan that the only way to save not just the world, but every time and age, the Genie’s creation must be erased from history. Seda sacrifices his body to open a portal to the past and leaves Toan to right the wrongs of history.

As Toan wanders through the Gallery of Time, he begins learning more about Seda’s story and what drove him to become the Dark Genie of the past. Toan learns the truth through scenes of Seda’s memories, which are trapped in the past, that detail the story of Sophia, his love and queen as seen:

“It was the day of my crowning that I met you. Your blue eyes catch mine once and then you vanish…I want to meet you again. That’s all I can think of now…the minister rushed into my room in a panic. Princess’s buggy of neighbor country is missing in the storm. I reunited with you one hour after that…I borrowed the power of devils but now I can save my comrades. With this force…I will never let them touch you. Drunk with victory I return to the castle…You come sooner than expected. Simply seeing you revives my spirit.”

Seda was not an evil spirit bent on destroying the world. He cared for someone, and that drove him to make a deal that he shouldn’t have in order to save not only his countrymen, but also his beloved. Seda clearly desired to protect Sophia and felt relieved that she was safe from the horrors of war. Unfortunately, his love and willingness to sacrifice himself for her was not enough. An assassin, aiming to kill Seda, instead accidentally kills Sophia, because she places herself in between Seda and his attacker’s blade.

Once Sophia is murdered, Seda is at first stricken with disbelief and eventually goes insane, as evidenced, “Something evil was born from me. Something evil and powerful. My endless hatred and bitterness from losing you is his energy…I lost everything…I will stop him and get everything back.”. This mad want of revenge causes Seda to destroy the world, and it is his guilt from not being able to stop Sophia’s death and the creation of the Dark Genie that drives him forbidden into the future to stop the resurrected Dark Genie’s assault.

Toan
Toan using his Atlamillia to save Sophia

Once Toan learns what happens in the past, he, instead of immediately attacking the Seda of the past, tries to stop the assassin and save Sophia. Despite his failure, Toan rises to the challenge and defeats the Dark Genie of the past and saves Seda, who mourns the loss of Sophia. Though Toan could now turn on Seda and retaliate against him for the evils he has done in both the past and in the present, he chooses to forgive Seda and save Sophia by using his Altamillia to bring back her soul.

In closing, throughout this journey, Toan has learned what it means to look past his and others’ mistakes and forgive. From Goro, he learned to accept the truth behind a story and move forward past the pain of loss. From La Saia and Rando, Toan comes to the realization that love means forgiving one’s mistakes and choosing to move forward with one’s significant other in life. Finally, towards Seda, Toan is given the option of forgiving the fallen king using his new found understanding of Seda’s actions, or destroying the world by not exercising compassion toward Seda.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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I have an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction, am a news writer for Zelda Informer, and enjoy theorizing about story structure in anime, games, and manga.

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29 Comments

  1. Joslyn Robinson

    I am not familiar with the game, but like the sophisticated depth of it and how you deftly brought out the examples of forgiveness as a theme. In games like God of War-where Kratos never seems to learn forgiveness, for himself or others-there is no true character arc for the games hero and therefor none for the player. Thanks for the article.

  2. Thank you for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the article. If you have a Playstation 2, I would recommend that you find this game and give it a try.

  3. I am an idiot for selling this beautiful game. I miss you Sword of Zeus, you were so reliable. ( I never finish that tower level after the ending)

  4. Created a new save and has started to play through the game for the 3rd time. I usually don’t say this, but this game really is OLD BUT GOLD!

  5. Prentice
    0

    Nostalgic post here. Thank you. Everything about this game feels like it was put together in an Art Institute class.

  6. Step down
    0

    When I first saw this game in Wal-Mart, I just looked at it inside it’s container wonderring if I should buy it and now I realized how great this game really is and love it. When I play this game I think of Harvest Moon (which my teenage sister really loves) and Steambot Chronicles.

  7. My favorite game of all time. Still addicted

  8. Cornell
    0

    when i was little this game scared me and i sold it before beating the first dungeon. i regret it.

    • Dusti Nix
      0

      i was scared of it too

      but instead of getting rid of it i stuffed it away for 5 years before actually trying to beat it.

  9. Galindo
    0

    I would like to see them port this game along with the second one to the PS4 and then work on a third instalment. First one because I would like to replay it, second one because I haven’t played it, and third one because I loved the gameplay and how it was implemented, so a third instalment would be wonderful.

  10. Loa Goulet
    0

    This is a good game. I remember getting it pretty early on after getting my PS2 back in the day. I’m currently playing through Soul Blazer for the SNES on my channel, and these two games are pretty similar in idea. You go through dungeons to release souls to their homes and rebuild the towns. Dark Cloud is definitely a step up, obviously. But just thought I’d point out that similarity.

  11. Loved this game as a kid, sad I got stuck on the first boss. Cant wait to get it agian.

  12. The town music gives me this rushing feeling of nostalgia. If they remade this game or made a new sequelI would be SO happy!

  13. Holy! I remember playing this on a Demo disc a long time ago. I love this game!

  14. Kelly Werner
    0

    My favourite character is Toan, then Ruby, then Ungaga, then Xiao, then Osmond and then Goro is my least favourite.

  15. i’m looking to buy it along with other games from my past but i can’t find it =/ i grew up with the xbox not the ps2 and i just got a free one a few days ago. i’ve been looking around everywhere for a copy but can’t find one.

  16. mgrantham27
    0

    This game was a favorite of mine when I was younger and I was pleasantly surprised to see an article about it on here. It’s very fun but also the messages and lessons throughout the game are fantastic. I will have to put this one back in my playstation soon!

    • Thank you, mgrantham27 and everyone else for the comments. The game is also one of my favorites, but I was a little nervous about writing an article on the game, because I wasn’t sure if people would know what I was talking about. I’m happy to see so many people enjoying the article and remembering the game fondly, so thank you all for your readership and nostalgic comments.

  17. I would go back and play it right now if not for the fact that the actual dungeons are rather grind heavy and repetitive. The rest of the game was great though, just wish the dungeons and combat had a bit more variety.

  18. Dark cloud 2 is my fav game on ps2 but I haven’t beat dark cloud 1.

  19. This game was my childhood! A masterpiece in my opinion.

  20. I bought this game today on a whim because it was like $4, haha. I try to go for more obscure RPGs that I’ve never heard of. Everyone’s played Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, but this should be an interesting exploration of the less mainstream. Excellent article!

  21. Wooden Lure
    0

    I played this game wo much when I was in elementary school…payday is on monday and I’m buying me a PS2 and this game.

  22. Splendid analyses. This is my all time favorite game, and it’s only now that I realize how hard it was.

  23. I love Dark Cloud I had invested so many hours into that game and I don’t regret it.

  24. I always liked Dark Cloud more than Zelda games.

  25. The only boss that’s harder then the first is the last.

  26. I loved this game! A very good article. My nostalgia has been triggered.
    Toan would make a very good town planner, asking everybody where they wanted there house to be in the village, who they wanted to live next to and what environmental features they wanted access to. There’s a whole essay in there someplace.

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