Elden Ring may look a lot like Dark Souls but, as far as we know right now, it’s entirely its own thing in terms of narrative and lore. That doesn’t mean, however, there aren’t legitimate links between From Software’s latest action RPG and previous games like Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne, and even Armored Core.
I really don’t know what you’re doing here if you’re trying to avoid spoilers, but this is your last chance to close this tab or click on a link to one of Kotaku’s other fantastic stories if you don’t want to see Elden Ring content before it launches on February 25.
As part of a recent Red Bull-branded preview event that brought in several notable Twitch personalities to demo Elden Ring ahead of its release, it was revealed that a character named Patches appears in the upcoming game. Spanish streamer ChusoMMontero came face-to-face with Patches during his session, apparently inviting the NPC’s scorn after looting a treasure chest.
Chuso was quickly cut down, but not before providing us with this excellent footage of Patches in action.
Patches should be a familiar face to longtime fans of From Software’s history, especially when it comes to the company’s genre-defining Souls and Souls-like games. While he first debuted in 2008’s Armored Core: For Answer as Patch the Good Luck, a faceless, rival pilot with a fondness for sniping you from the air rather than facing you head-on, most folks got their first taste of this character’s unique brand of tomfoolery the following year courtesy of Demon’s Souls.
Much like his Armored Core appearance, Patches the Hyena (as he’s known in Demon’s Souls) is a cowardly, conniving NPC who twice leads you into compromising situations in the hopes that you’ll die so that he can loot your corpse. In both instances, he apologizes for his actions once you escape his traps. If you let Patches live, he sets up a shop in the game’s hub area.
While most folks disapproved of the changes made to Demon’s Souls aesthetics in its PlayStation 5 remake, I applaud developer Bluepoint Software for using the upgraded visuals to give Patches one of the most punchable faces I’ve ever seen in a video game. I’d be curious to learn if more people killed him on PS5 as opposed to the PlayStation 3 original.
“Trusty” Patches next showed up in 2011’s Dark Souls, introducing himself to you in various locations depending on your progress through the game. Much like in Demon’s Souls, he lures you with the promise of treasure, only to send you careening over cliffs and into dark chasms. And if, like in Demon’s Souls, you don’t give into the temptation of cutting him down where he stands, Patches becomes a merchant, selling his ill-begotten loot in Firelink Shrine.
My favorite Patches cameo comes courtesy of 2015’s Bloodborne. Deep into that Lovecraftian adventure, you meet a character named Patches the Spider, who is basically the Patches we’ve come to know and love with a creepy, arachnid-style body.
He first appears unseen behind locked doors early in the story, providing you with a key item for progressing through the game, before his full visage is revealed in the otherworldly Lecture Building.
Of course, what kind of jerk would Patches be if he didn’t kick you into a hole? Approaching a specific cliff in the late-game Nightmare Frontier activates a short, point-of-view cutscene in which he knocks you over the edge. That’s the Patches we know and tolerate!
And finally, 2016’s Dark Souls 3 marked the most recent appearance of “Unbreakable” Patches. Again, he puts you through a series of trials and even steals the armor and identity of a beloved ally known as Siegward of Catarina, but his story comes to a fitting conclusion in the thoroughly enjoyable Ringed City expansion.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend watching Souls loresmith VaatiVidya’s video essay on Patches’ journey from loathsome parasite to ruthless survivor.
As an aside, Patches might also have analogs in Dark Souls 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, though not with the same name. The former’s Mild-Mannered Pate seems friendly when you first meet him, but later on becomes part of a quest line involving a betrayed former partner, while the latter’s Anayama the Peddler is considered a possible stand-in due to his history as a former thief turned merchant. While these aren’t direct references to the real Patches, one can easily argue they were meant to fill the same role.
Hidetaka Miyazaki, who many credit for establishing the Souls-like genre with his work on Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro, reportedly claimed during a 2011 interview on the Japanese podcast Game no Shokutaku that every game he makes will have Patches in it. Joking or not, it’s nice to see Elden Ring keeping up with this continuity. Dark Souls 3 felt like the perfect send-off for the little asshole, but I look forward to seeing what role he plays, if any, in the story of this and future From Software projects to come.