Dark Souls II - the awkward middle child of the sublime trilogy - had a pretty fraught development process. Its story and many areas of its world were revised before release, but thanks to internet dataminers, we've learned a fair bit about its original plot.
It seems we were originally supposed to learn of an artefact called the 'Pendulum of Time' via an Aldia-esque scholar named Velderrick, and that assembling the pendulum was a key task for much of the game. That done, we're then able to travel through time, and encounter Shanalotte (aka, the Emerald Herald) as a child in the past (it's worth noting at this point that 'Child Shanalotte' appears in the game's credits).
Shaliquor the talking cat also had a lot more to say, there's an expanded role for the dwarf-like Gyrm, and the Undead Crypt was originally home to a whole new subrace of Undead called Immortals.
Dark Souls 2 possibly doesn't get the love it should. If that's too controversial a statement, we have a universally agreed-upon list of the best RPGs on PC.
The news comes from Dark Souls dataminer and YouTuber 'Sanadsk', who's dug up a bunch of cut voice lines and environment assets. His video is embedded below, or you can click here to read the cut lines in a GDoc.
A number of these changes make a great deal of sense, when you consider how underdone and out-of-place their remnants often feel in the shipped game. Time travel did occur, Gyrm did exist, but their inclusion felt a little disjointed and underdone.
It's easy to make excuses given the Souls games' famous obscurity, yet it's often said that Dark Souls II struggled to walk the opaque-yet-coherent line with the same grace as others in the series. So it's interesting to learn more about the original vision, and to consider whether it would've felt any smoother.
Incidentally, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is 75% off in the Steam Summer sale - that's $9.99 (£7.49), and even if it's probably the worst of the Souls games, that still leaves plenty of headroom for it to be better than most of its peers. Check it out if you haven't already.