‘Dark Souls II’ lives up to expectations

Laurel Delany, ‘Doah Staff Writer
April 2, 2014

'Doah photo courtesy of cinemablend.com

‘Doah photo courtesy of cinemablend.com

The highly anticipated sequel to one of the most notoriously difficult video games of all time has finally arrived. “Dark Souls II” has been released to universal acclaim for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows. Many fans of the original feared that the commercial success of the first installment would prompt the game developers to ease up on the difficulty to make the franchise more accessible to new players, but they can rest easy. “Dark Souls II” is every bit as demanding, challenging, and rewarding.

 The developers of “Dark Souls II” really took the criticism of repetitive environments to heart, and have created an incredible diversity of environments for the player to explore. The varied environments and the details that go into them add an entirely new level of immersion for the player.

 For those unfamiliar with “Dark Souls”’ gaming mechanics, the game’s main difficulty springs from finding out your enemies’ weaknesses. Every boss has a wildly different weakness and requires a completely different strategy to defeat. Trying to find out these weaknesses without guidance from the game itself makes for a difficult challenge. Dark Souls II requires the player to judge how they should approach each challenge; should they use brute force, precision strikes, agility, or something else? It is the variety of each battle that makes “Dark Souls II” a gaming experience unlike any other.

“Dark Souls II” also reduced its frame rate while also maintaining visual brilliance, so the game runs so much smoother than its predecessor. And for fans of the originals’ wildly inventive and mysterious story can rejoice, for “Dark Souls II” is just as engrossing and fun to theorize about.

But some critics found their desire to explore the new worlds quelled by a new difficulty added to the game. IGN critic Marty Sliva said, “…developer From Software went a little too far with a penalty that decreases your max HP every time you die. This can be counteracted by using a Human Effigy, but those items are few and far between in the early half of the campaign. While undoubtedly a hardcore feature, I found it frustrating because it slightly stifled my urge to explore the world with a fear of being too harshly penalized for failure.”

This new feature is really the only criticism this game is receiving. The graphics are beautiful, the art direction and design is super creative, the combat is a delightful challenge, and the difficulty of the game isn’t unfair… it is downright addicting. “Dark Souls II” has a runtime of about 60 hours of gameplay, so you really get your money’s worth.

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