Dark Souls II

I have to take my hat off to From Software; I never for a moment imagined that Demon’s Souls would generate a sequel let alone two sequels. Dark Souls 2 is, in a nut shell, more of the same.

It tweaks the combat slightly and makes a wider variety of play styles possible but at its heart it remains a soul destroying journey of frustration and rage. At least that is my experience of the game. I hate it, totally and absolutely. There is in fact only 1 thing I hate more than the Souls games (alright except real world problems like poverty and child cancer) and that is Game of Thrones, they are without doubt the worst books I’ve ever read and just like the Souls games they really are a 1 trick pony. In Game of Thrones this is George R.R. Martin’s obsession with killing off major characters. In Dark Souls this is the game designer’s obsession with killing of your character and making you start all over again. Just to flog this dead analogy they also wallow about with no direction. Game of Thrones spends half a book covering the adventures of a character you don’t care about, Dark Souls by sending you to your death in a variety of time scales, instantly, immediately or imminently and it leaves you to judge the difference. If your death is merely imminent you are probably heading in the right direction.

Of course my hatred of both Dark Souls 2 and Game of Thrones is driven from the fact I desperately want to like them! Game of Thrones has moments of genius (although it is sad indictment of any book when an HBO TV series is better) and I loudly applaud From Software for taking gaming in a different direction. It’s not story driven (although it has a good one), it’s not multi-player (although it has some) it is essentially a modern day Donkey Kong where you experiment and fail, experiment and fail again and slowly you progress. But for me this is not why I play video games any longer and I can only imagine this game is getting such incredible reviews because most reviewers have the luxury to invest the hours this game requires as you tread the same path over and over again.

Dark Souls 2 appears easier than the previous titles, I only died in the introduction due to my stupidity and the stupidity of having the jump button on L3 but easier is a relative term and this game is still punishing by modern gaming standard. I got killed by pigs for goodness sake! Although that was actually pretty funny. Annoyingly becoming Hollow (the price you pay for being killed) reduces your life total so not only is death extremely frustrating it actually makes it harder to progress…You can reverse this but the Human Effigies required are not common. Still it’s nicely atmospheric as your mighty undead self slowly withers away. The NPCs within the game enhance the atmosphere and although, the voice acting is a bit rough the nature of the undead world, the despair and insanity is beautifully communicated.

The game world is solid if unremarkable; the introduction is remarkable but quickly forgotten when you see the clunky character models. I like a game to have customizable character models (and DS2 does) but there is something to be said for the quality of execution games developers can achieve when the character model is set. Some of the builds look very awkward and the game would be better without them (huge body, tiny head anyone?). Overall I would have preferred each character class to have its own model but this wouldn’t have worked with the levelling system which essentially lets you develop in any direction regardless of your starting choices.

Dark Souls 2 is in theory an RPG game with a very impressive looking leveling system and a comprehensive range of weapons, armour and magic but that is pretty much where the comparison stops and, as their video states, it is more important to level up yourself than it is the character. Which is the beauty and the downfall of the game.

If it had a difficulty slider I would invest the hours necessary to explore the world and develop my character and it would be a pleasure but given those hours will likely see me get 10% through the game I think I’ll go and read Game of Thrones instead.

Rating: R13 Contains violence and horror scenes. Reviewed by: Aaron


Note to the Editor: Do not ever offer me another Souls game to review. I will not be able to say no and will spend another week of my life filled with rage and will have to buy a new controller after it accidentally falls repeatedly into the wall at high velocity.


You may also like...