Boss Fight Analysis: Gravelord Nito

Story & Context

The opening cinematic to Dark Souls narrates the events of a war long, long ago. When four mighty lords born from fire rose up to contest the dominance of the everlasting dragons. Nito is the first such lord to be named. “The first of the dead”, who used his necrotic powers to rot away his enemies. With the age of fire coming to an end, the player character is now tasked with collecting the souls of all the lords. Since he was the first to be mentioned, it seemed only fair that Nito should be the first to go.

Lorewise, not much is known about Nito outside of the intro video. He is a scary boney-boy, who seemingly fucked off to live deep below the catacombs for all eternity. He has no dialogue and items related to him offer little in the way of backstory. This is peculiar, because Nito also doubles as the head of a covenant. You’d expect there to be some story there or, at the least, a reaction when members of said covenant turn their blades against him. Alas, no such thing.

Nito is neat-o as a big scary skeleton monster, but little effort is made to expand on his story. Even when keeping the usual opaqueness of Dark Soul’s lore in mind.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Nito makes his lair deep underground. Beyond the catacombs and even below the Tomb of Giants. His domain is suitably dark and dreary. After making your way through a wall of seals, players drop into a lifeless cavern. It’s well contextualized, but the reality is somewhat drab. It is just a grey stone room, with only a giant coffin to decorate it. A bit boring, perhaps.

Its shape is very unique, however. It’s a semi-circular arena with a number of rocky obstacles, but also a massive colomn right in the midle of it. It’s large enough to obscure Nito, making for a effective suspense as either of you first move around it and he comes into view. His size is certainly imposing, matched by the level of detail in his model. There’s bones and skulls all over, all wrapped in this fraying cloak of darkness. Combined with his lumbering movement, it really sells Nito as this obscene construct of death and decay.

This fight is also great if you embrace the atmospheric effect of lighting. With proper gamma settings, you can’t see Nito at all from far away. You hear him first and then slowly see his dreadful form creep towards you from the dark. Accompanied by the ominous music and Nito’s unnerving sound-effects. In short: this is a fight that achieves a lot with surprisingly little. Though some of the onus is on the player to make it as impactful as possible.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Battle Mechanics

As an opponent, Nito is incredibly well-rounded. He is a big foe with a large sword, which is fun to dodge around and maneuver against. At the same time, Nito has an assortment of magical attacks for massive damage and ranged potential. Among them an area-of-effect explosion around himself that can catch players off-guard. It punishes those who think they can just get into Nito’s blindspot and wail away at him. He also has a version of the Gravelord Sword miracle obtainable through his covenant. It makes a giant sword emerge from the ground right under player’s feet. A perfect counter to spellcasters or rangers, looking to bully the sluggish Nito from afar.

Nito’s basic attacks aren’t very powerful compared to other bosses, but they are punishing. His sword can quickly inflict toxic on the player; a status effect more ravenous than poison that drains health very quickly. While it’s not as instant as that of the blowdart enemies in Blighttown, it forces players to be cautious. You can’t just tank the damage and think you’ll get away with it. Nito also has a grab attack to round out his moveset, which does massive damage to any player who fails to foresee & dodge it.

This alone makes Nito a worthy opponent, but there is one more trick to his fight. Building on the mechanics introduced in The Catacombs, Nito is surrounded by skeletons that will revive endlessly until their necromancer is killed. The necromancer is Nito. There is a variety of different skeletons, including some of the more powerful ones found in the Tomb of the Giants. Players are given a lot of choices in how to deal with this problem. They can try to keep culling the skeletons; making the fight longer overall, but reducing the chance of being swarmed. They can try to localize the fight with Nito, so as not to pull every skeleton into the battle. You can even attempt to have Nito kill the skeletons for you, by baiting his attacks so that they hit his minions instead. It’s a versatile mechanic which virtually guarantees that no two fights against Nito will ever play out the same.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


The run-up to Nito’s boss room is short, but filled with risks. Strong enemies with high damage potential and instant-death falls all over. Even prepared players may struggle to reach the boss room at full health. Not that doing so counts for much, as the fight begins with you dropping into the arena for guaranteed damage. An idea not seen since the Stray Demon. Attempting to heal this damage before starting the fight proper is often punished, as Nito seems coded to always use his Gravelord Sword when people try this.

Being swarmed by skeletons while attempting to close the distance to Nito, already hurt from falling damage and the run-up, makes for a demoralizing start to a fight. It creates a suitable level of tension for a boss this pivotal to the storyline.

However, I find that Nito is actually the easiest of the great lords. It’s an oppressive fight for sure, but nowhere near as punishing as those of his cohorts. His attacks are slow and easy to dodge, while his magical abilities are choreographed clearly. It is very manageable so long as you can avoid being overwhelmed. While some would consider this disappointing for a major boss fight, I really like Nito myself. It’s satisfying to get good at this fight. At the same time, it has enough tricks up its sleeve and enough damage potential that you can never get too comfortable either. Underestimate Nito, and he will get you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall Verdict

Of the end-game bosses, Nito is always the first one that I go to. That I find him the easiest is certainly a factor, but it’s also just a fight that I look forward to. It captures the appeal of fighting a big scary monster in a Souls game, but with a diverse moveset and novel gimmicks. The difficulty feels just right and—falling damage aside—there is nothing to this battle that could be considered cheap. My only complaints being that Nito could’ve done with more story to flesh him out as a character. Maybe a few more spooky decorations to spice up his arena.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One thought on “Boss Fight Analysis: Gravelord Nito

  1. Pingback: Boss Fight Analysis: Bed of Chaos | Legacy of Games

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