Both Dark Souls games have a myriad of deaths, souls and secrets that lend to interesting sections of the game as well as crucial story elements. Comparing the two games in all ways seems natural as both take Undead through the same beginning and end, but it is in the middle that everything can change, thanks in part to these secrets. Only some of the secrets will be tackled here, and all of which will be spoilers in some sense, so be warned.
To clarify what is being treated as a secret here, the ones discussed here will be in one of three categories. The first category will involve a single move that changes an entire environment or boss encounter, while the second will be a two or three step process that leads to what can be called a satisfying conclusion. Finally, the third category will talk about hidden bosses or areas in the two titles that require several steps to access.
Dark Souls arguably had a larger scale when compared to its sequel, and possibly the most grandiose location was the former home of the Sun God Gwyn, Anor Londo. The gigantic vista is appropriately bright and full of loyal minions to Gwyn that protect his daughter Gwynevere and an important story item. The secret here flips this area completely around; the massive Daughter of Gwyn is an elaborate illusion set-up by another child of Gwyn, Gwyndolin, and harming the illusion brings the city back to reality, turns off most of the enemies and angers Gwyndolin. Dark Souls Two has a comparable secret that runs through Earthen Peak and into Mytha, the Baneful Queen. Next to the Central Bonfire, an inconspicuous windmill spins, but setting it on fire changes the boss fight significantly, taking away Mytha’s pool of health and the player’s awaiting poison bath.
One of the most questionable characters in the first game, Frampt, is not a required character to talk to or to bestow the Lordvessel upon. Instead, Frampt’s brethren Kaathe can allow the Chosen Undead access to the chamber of the Lordvessel. After obtaining the vessel, don’t talk to the first worm—Frampt—that approaches the character. Wait until defeating the Four Kings boss in New Londo’s Abyss area, leave, then return to the area with the Lordvessel, and Kaathe will be waiting, painting a different story of the destined future of the land.
The sequel has an area called the Shrine of Amana, which introduces a lullaby aspect to quell certain creatures in the low water zone. Near the end of this zone is a locked door next to a suspicious bonfire. To open the door, players must be Hollowing and not human, but be prepare for a group of enemies just on the other side. At the end of this path is one of the last Milfanito and an altar where those that have used all of their Human Effigys can go to be brought back to human form. However, to receive all of the rewards the singing Milfanito has, the player must save her other three sisters and kill the Demon of Song boss that has stolen their talents.
Dark Souls has often been called difficult, as any enemy met along the path can kill players in different ways, but when compared to some secret bosses in either game, these enemies are a walk in the park. The original game had Crossbreed Priscilla as the optional boss in the Painted World of Ariamis, who was a half-breed of goddess and dragon. This boss, after her request for a peaceful parting is ignored, turns invisible from time to time, giving only her snowy footprints as clues to her location. The latest entry in the series probably had its hardest boss, Darklurker, hidden away behind what amounts to three locked doors. After braving three separate Abyss depths, Darklurker awaits and seems somewhat standard until 50 percent of his health is taken. From there, another Darklurker appears and the player is sent on a frantic sprint, looking ferociously for an opening to heal or counter. The Dark Souls series often saves some of the best, and most difficult, content for those that really want to search for it, making that final blow feel all the sweeter in the end.
Opinion by Myles Gann