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Darl Souls II-Review

Posted by abhinav on March 28, 2014 at 1:05 AM

                                                           Dark Souls II
During my 59 hours of Dark Souls 2, I died 226 times. I know this courtesy of a worldwide death counter. But every time I took an axe to the face, or got murdered by somersaulting zombies, or mistakenly cartwheeled off a cliff, I learned something of value: that patience, as always, yields the greatest rewards. That bipedal hippos are really fucking deadly. That circle-strafing is not a one-size-fits-all tactic. But most importantly, that death is a great teacher.

Like Dark Souls and Demon's Souls before it, Dark Souls II is not just a fantasy role-playing adventure, but a cloud that hangs heavy over your head whenever you so much as think about it. These modern classics developed by From Software have rightfully earned a reputation for being brutally difficult, but their beauty is derived not solely from difficulty, but also from dread. Dark Souls II is not a survival horror game in the normal sense, but few games can make you this afraid to peer around the corner, while simultaneously curious as to what awaits you there. Death is so very beautiful in this game, for it comes at the hands of amazing beasts and warmongers: hulking armored knights, shimmering otherworldly invaders, and tendrils that rise out of black pools of poison. Sure, each death punctures your heart, but one of Dark Souls II's many gruesome pleasures is discovering new ways to die.As a newly branded undead in the kingdom of Drangleic, your goal is simple: gather as many souls as possible in the hopes of breaking your curse. In practice, this means exploring every bit of the vast world and fighting its many enemies and bosses. This process is a battle of inches, as enemy encounters are frequent and difficult, and the setting itself is no less threatening. Learning the attack patterns of foes, the locations of cleverly hidden traps, whether or not that gaping hole in the ground leads to treasure or will simply kill you should you step in it--all of this is accomplished through trial and error.

This difficult-by-necessity methodology, which rewards players for patience and internalizing lessons learned from past mistakes, is the crux of Dark Souls 2. It's a game that has no interest in hand-holding, instead opting to push you into the wild with little more than a butter knife and tasking you with figuring things out for yourself. Your heart will pound once you've stockpiled thousands of precious souls, a crucial form of currency, knowing that if you can just get a little bit further, you might find a temporary zone of safety. Or maybe you'll die and lose everything you've worked so hard to get--but next time, you'll know better. The adrenaline rush and sense of elation and empowerment you get from overcoming a particularly difficult enemy or obstacle is something no other series has replicated to this degree.The eerie blackness is front and center as you start up the game and enter the mysterious abode in front of you. Three old crones await you inside and ask you to customize your character and choose a class before venturing into the unknown. Like most of Dark Souls II's characters, these women offer vague advice and refer to events and concepts without filling in the details. The anxiety mounts as you weave in and out of the nearby caverns that fill you in on the basics of movement and combat. This area may teach you the fundamentals, but it also raises a number of questions. What are those odd voices you hear when you stand near the bird's nest that rests on a narrow ledge? What is the significance of the flame sconces scattered about that you are meant to set alight? How do you survive encounters with the monstrous ogres on the beach below that squish you like a measly bug when you draw near?

This introduction is not as soul crushing as the original Dark Souls' opening, but that's just fine, for Dark Souls II offers you an early taste of hope, a feeling that was quite rare in its predecessors. That hope arrives by way of Majula, a gorgeous oasis that's as close to a home as you will find in the game. My first glimpse of Majula was a revelation. As I emerged from the nearby shadows, the glowing sun blinded me, and I stood in awe of the world opening up before me. Whenever the bleakness of Drangleic at large overwhelmed me, I was glad to return to this hub for an emotional refresh.

Instead, Dark Souls II trusts you. As in its predecessors, there are no waypoints, and there is no quest log. Instead, you simply head out into Drangleic seeking to light primal bonfires and thus restore some dignity to this decrepit land. The only way to defeat the defiant creatures that guard the bonfires, however, is to grow stronger by murdering enemies and collecting their souls, which you then spend on new levels, new armor, and other trinkets that strengthen your resolve in battle. If you've played the earlier Souls games, you should take to the combat quickly. You feel each swing of your axe, each stab with your spear, and each fireball you lob. Timing is key: every action leaves you vulnerable, so you must pay close attention to the rhythm of your enemies' attacks and strike at the opportune moment. Managing your stamina is also vital to success. Every attack you launch uses up stamina, as does successfully blocking an attack. You can't simply flail about with abandon; this is not that kind of game, and not taking care during every encounter will get you killed.

One of the Souls' series most defining features is its intimidating boss encounters, of which Dark Souls 2 has many. Going toe-to-toe with these powerful foes provides a familiar rush of adrenaline, and beating them often results in an overwhelming sense of achievement. There are some on par with Dark Souls' more iconic foes, such as Ornstein & Smough, or Sif, the Great Grey Wolf (soon we'll be mentioning The Last Giant and The Rotten in the same breath), but a handful are just tall-ish dudes in bulky armor. These more underwhelming encounters are mechanically challenging, but lack scale or eccentricity.Not that you shouldn't expect death. Dark Souls II is built around your repeated demise. When that inevitable moment comes, you drop all the souls you were carrying and must retrieve them if you don't want to lose them permanently. You get only one chance to get them back, for dying before you reach them eliminates them from the world forever. Of course, this mechanic is nothing new: it's the same concept that powered both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, after all. But just as Dark Souls represented a structural change over Demon's Souls, so too does Dark Souls II over its predecessor.

That's really what Dark Souls 2 is about--it takes everything that made the original so great, but expands on them in its own unique ways. Sure, not every single boss fight will impress, and you might be resistant to the world's hub-like structure, but these are minor notes in an otherwise phenomenal journey. Dark Souls 2 is an incredible game, one that demands alert play and rewards perseverance. You will die many times in many ways, but push on and you'll find this to be an excellent sequel that not only captures the essence of the original, but is a memorable experience in its own right.


+Fantastic sense of discovery

+Lots of tweaks to the Dark Souls formula that make exploration and combat consistently rewarding

+Online features make the adventure even more unpredictable

+Tons of cool, creepy, challenging bosses

+Gives you minimal guidance and trusts you to triumph on your own terms

-Gameplay can be sometime frustating and by frustating I mean smash-your-controller-in-the-screen-and-stab-someone-repeatedly frustating.
-Not much of a storyline gameplay based on you getting you souls back after dying(Which you do half of the game).
- Flat lighting makes some areas look too washed out


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