The Title Card: It’s a big guy in an enormous set of armor, wielding a halberd. Over your all-too-brief time with this imposing lug, he yields too important surprises: 1) that he is still “alive” (the sword thrust through his chest was merely holding him in place) and 2) he is full of a sentient black goo that erupts from him in the second part of the fight.
Notes: This may easily be the best opening boss in a Dark Souls game. As the gatekeeper between the tutorial area and the rest of the game, he sure makes an impression, moving from dread to awe to confused panic over the course of the fight. I’m somewhat convinced that the second form design was a deliberate trolling of hardened Dark Souls veterans (“Oh, it’s just another armored guy! Yawn...ummm...what’s happening now?!?”) by the designers.What a clever way to shake things up From Software!
Challenge Level: While the dark-corrupted form probably scared me the first time I encountered it, I will say it was probably the easier form to beat. As a normal knight, Gundyr has a lot more precision and variety in his strikes; he is harder to read. As a writing black mass topped off by a serpent’s-head-shaped mass, he telegraphs his moves well in advance. Dodge/get out of range until it’s safe and then punish it.
Very Speculative Lore Notes: I said above that he acts as a gatekeeper to the rest of the game; on a narrative level, this means he is between your character and her destiny to rekindle the fire. Is he meant to be a test to see if you are worthy? Or is he just an unfortunate who sacrificed himself for his fellow warriors and, in time, ended up corrupted (like Martyr Logarius in Bloodborne)?
He really hates it when...: you mess up his name. “I keep telling you, it’s Iudex and NOT Judex! It’s an capital I, not a capital J!”