The mimic is a unique video game monster in the Dark Souls universe. These games reward players who pay attention and punish players who cavalierly make their way through the world. The mimic is the ultimate encapsulation of that design ideal.
Mimics, well, mimic chests in the game, and when you go to open the chest their toothy maw flies open, their long arms come out, and they give you the chomp. It’s amazing. If you’re diligent and patient, you can look for the tell-tale chain on the side of the mimic. If it is a real chest, it’s curled. Longer and uncurled? That’s a mimic. If you want to be sure, you can hit the chest one time, testing its murdering capacities. A serious Souls player will tell you that you can always avoid a mimic, and they’re right, but who hasn’t been surprised at least once by these tricky enemies?
When you catch a true mimic experience in the wild it’s magical. My friend Danni and I are playing through Dark Souls III on Twitch after completing Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, and Bloodborne in the same way. It’s a great way to play the game, and the hints and lore discussion from viewers keeps it interesting even through the slow parts and the deaths. A sort-of-friendly person invaded us and this happened:
There were a million things that we could have done here. Don’t follow the invader, maybe, and we definitely could have checked the chest to look for signs of mimicry. But we didn’t, so we were eaten, and we had a great time being punished for our mistake.
What’s amazing by the mimic experience is that it almost always feels like a punchline to the joke of a Souls experience. You’ve developed all of these skills and worked so hard only to be one-shotted by something you could have avoided if you were a little more aware of your surroundings. Mimics are the ultimate facepalm moments, totally avoidable and yet (seemingly) always getting us when we least expect it, a punishment for our greed and hubris.
More than that, I think that the mimic might be the best thing in the Dark Souls games. As an enemy, they are the perfect encapsulation of what the game wants you to be learning and paying attention to. They are the smallest recognizable unit of “the Souls experience,” and they drive home the themes of risk vs reward, safety vs danger, and patience vs progress that are so often held up as virtues of the games and the broader genre that they have inspired.