Dark Souls 2 Review
publisher: Namco Bandai Games
developer: From Software
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 11, 14
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Following the success of the PS3-exlusive Demon’s Souls, studio From Software continued to torment us with a new action RPG game called Dark Souls, which turned into yet another success. When I say ‘torment’ I’m referring to the masochistic nature of the game. Here’s how things work: the player explores the world, finds treasures and fights against groups of challenging foes and some bad-ass bosses. However, what you can also expect is that you die and you die a lot. The souls you gather from slain enemies represent hard-earned in-game currency. Each time you die you reappear next to a Bonfire and all the enemies respawn and, more importantly, you lose all the souls you’ve gathered. You have one chance of reclaiming them by reaching the exact same spot where you died. If you fail that one time, you’re screwed and all the previously gathered souls will be gone forever. The only solution at this point is to go out and slice and chop more foes to farm for more souls, seeing as most enemies will respawn each time you rest at the ‘Bonfire’.
Damn, this tower shield! Can't lift this crap!
All we need now is mushrooms.
It was like that in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls and things are pretty much the same in Dark Souls 2. There are other aspects of gameplay, which we’ll be getting into later, but that’s the general gist of things. Before you head out on your soul-collecting adventure, you’ll be able to choose one of the following character classes: Warrior, Knight, Swordsman, Bandit, Cleric, Sorcerer, Explorer and Deprived. There’s a commendable amount of diverse weapons, armor and spells on offer for RPG buffs. Each class has appropriate equipment and items they can use during their adventures.
Dark Souls 2 offers a simple and darkish narrative that doesn’t rely on any dialogue sequences or intricate sub-plots. All the NPCs you meet will have only a few things to say, mostly hinting or explaining what you may find in the nearby area or simply giving you items you may need. The basic story is that you are cursed and as an undead you are now forced to roam the land that’s haunted by all sorts of twisted monsters and demons. With the premise set up, you can head out to chop baddies. The gloomy and mostly lifeless areas lend a certain mystery to the premise and should be enough to peak the curiosity of RPG enthusiasts, thus warranting plenty of exploration. Okay, it’s not all lifeless, obviously, since there are a lot of enemies waiting. The gameplay shifts from being tough as hell to being ridiculously impossible. At some point you’ll be faced with a choice: either you’re going to stop bitching and try again (after dying for the 458th time) or you’ll give up and toss your copy of the game into an actual bonfire. For me, it wasn’t much of a choice, because, quite frankly, Dark Souls 2 is a welcomed challenge and a breath of fresh air after a long dry gaming season that’s crammed with crap. So, I did enjoy myself most of the time while playing this game; well, apart from the cursing and yelling and throwing the gamepad at the TV (several times).
In comparison to the original, we honestly cannot find any major differences. It’s mostly just tweaks both in the gameplay and visual department. The best part about Dark Souls 2, which was also one of the main traits of the previous game as well, is that while it punishes you severely for your mistakes, it also rewards you massively when you make an effort. Bosses can be beaten, enemy hordes can be subdued. Keep at it and you’ll realize that it was worth the effort. All you have to do is choose the class best suited for your style of play. In other words, a lot will depend on whether you prefer attacking foes from a distance or at close range – or indeed both. We’ve gone through this game using the Swordsman class. As gay as it sounds, this particular class can gracefully wield two one-handed swords, keeping enemies at bay with powerful slashes and thrust attacks that are quick and rather deadly. Of course, it’s imperative that you take some time to practice both attacks and dodging. In most cases the AI takes its time when fighting. They are careful and persistent. Then again, when you farm for souls there are still ways to outfox the AI. The player can easily lure large opponents into situations where they clumsily fall to their death. Trust me, you’ll be more than thrilled to exploit this, because the game can be frustratingly difficult. I’m fairly confident that these flaws in AI behavior were put there on purpose. Who cares though, right? It’s bloody fun; I’m telling you (wow, if that’s not professional journalism right there, I don’t know what the hell is).
Terrific atmosphere, charmingly torturous gameplay mechanics will make you swear and love it at the same time, challenging and action-packed;
Similarly to Dark Souls 1, some sections are visually inferior to what's on offer in this day and age.