General Overview: The titular cathedral at the heart of this area is big enough to house giants, which is good because it does. Before you get there, you’ll have quite the trek to make: past a gauntlet of hounds and archers to the chapel, through a graveyard full of gross leech creatures, and up to the cathedral rooftops.
Design Notes: One of the better features of this area’s level design is how it integrates shortcuts in a couple of ways. Your first time through the graveyard passage can be disorienting, but the geography and elevation of the passage allow for a few shortcuts through it to the front of the cathedral. The actual cathedral portion itself links the whole cathedral to one bonfire, Bloodborne-style, so that new shortcuts open up as you explore the cathedral more. By the time the player actually manages to open up the massive front door, it’ll like be pointless anyway, as there will already be several more convenient routes.
Nitpick: I assume nearly every player new to this area likely had this question buzzing in their head at one point: why is my bleed gauge suddenly building, even when I’m not being attacked by something? My first thought was that it was a similar effect as the passive Frenzy buildup brought on by the Brain of Mensis’ presence from Bloodborne’s Nightmare of Mensis, but what could be causing it? I’m not ashamed to admit that I did give up and look it up on a wiki. The solution: a goddamn torch.
Why a torch? The logic, I’m guessing, is that the creature infesting you with the effect—the zombies and the massive leech-beasts in the trenches—are susceptible to fire (though oddly enough, pyromancy doesn’t remove the bleed effect), so a torch should expel the little blood-suckers.
I suppose it is possible you could figure out this solution in the natural course of exploring the area. It’s equally possible that you could blunder through and never figure it out, because the game has no clear indicator that any of this is happening aside from the bleed gauge. In hindsight, I notice the subtle sloughing-off of leeches when you bring out the torch, but this blink-and-you-miss-it indicator is just not enough. The player’s first foray into a new area can often be a panicked, reactive affair; a subtle clue may not be enough. It needn’t be a blinking neon sign, but it shouldn’t be a distant light on the horizon either.
Very Speculative Lore Notes: Cathedral of the Deep, Deacons of the Deep, Devout of the Deep, Deep Accursed—”Deep” is the overriding “brand” of this area, so why don’t we puzzle that word out. If we’re going by the Deep Gem’s effects, it has something to do with Dark damage, but we can go further than that. It also brings to mind something underneath and hidden, something far away and remote. Given what we learn of Aldrich throughout the game—his propensity for eating people, his transformation to something wholly inhuman—this might be fitting. This sect—the devout, the deacons, even the cathedral knights—are caretakers to a monstrosity that has gone beyond the pale, beyond the norms of society. Their devotion to...well, “it” really seems a better term for Aldrich drags them further and further away from any notion of religious virtue; they must abide by their master’s wishes and keep its secrets from outsiders.
The Tourism Board recommends: Hey, do you like covenants whose long-time faithful have turned into some kind of gross featureless slug-creature? Well, it somewhere in the massive cathedral and all you have to do is fall...just right.
The Misanthrope’s Pro-Tip(s):
—That giant might seem impossible to beat the first time you meet him (and his fist), but he is much easier to fight at ankle level.
—That freaky spider-abomination in the side room—he prefers to be called the “Deep Accursed”, thank you very much!—has a problem getting through narrow entrances. If you’ve got some ranged weapon or ability, you can exploit this; you can probably still exploit this from melee range as long as you watch for counter-strikes. Just don’t expect such to be able to cheat this fight the next time you see one of his kind.