By MikeLemmer 71 Comments
When Patrick finished Dark Souls yesterday, he missed out on one part of the game: the secret, optional zone of Ash Lake. People in chat recommended it, but he just shook his head:
"Nope, not bothering with it, want to finish up this game quickly."
In doing so, he missed out on a beautiful area that epitomized the Dark Souls themes of exploration and dark beauty. Ash Lake is a well-hidden secret zone with a haunting look, almost no enemies, and a surprising NPC. Most players never see it, but that's the point: how many games would hide one of their most beautiful zones behind 2 illusory walls? That says a lot about what Dark Souls tried to accomplish.
And Patrick just passed by it.
Previously, Patrick talked about the difference between reviewers' quick playthroughs and fans' devoted understanding of their favorite games, and how reviewers can skim over aspects of the game that are vital to its popularity. Patrick skipping the secret zones of Dark Souls so he could "clear it from the queue" and begin The Banner Saga is a good example of this. Sure, he still enjoyed Dark Souls, and he'll probably write a glowing article about the game now that he's finished it, but he missed a vital part of the game that reveals just how much its developers reward exploration.
I hope he takes the time to visit Ash Lake in the future, and he goes through Dark Souls 2 at a slower pace to explore more nooks & crannies.