Dark Souls 2 Review (PC)

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Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: From Software

Main Review

Review Context: I have played and beaten multiple times: Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. I have also played Lords of the Fallen. I am a tremendous fan of From Software and the Souls series.
Date of Playthrough: December 1, 2014

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i7 4770k @ 3.50 GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: Nvidia 660 2GB DDR5
Resolution: 1920×1080

Dark Souls 2 is a direct sequel to the 2011 hit Dark Souls developed by From Software. Dark Souls 2 starts the player off in the world of Drangleic, a once powerful kingdom that has since fallen to disrepair. The story in Dark Souls 2 is so far apart from Dark Souls in so many ways while still remaining awkwardly tied to the hip of its more lore developed brother. Dark Souls was a very challenging game to tackle due to the very rewarding combat and sense of advancement. Dark Souls 2 doesn’t follow this formula unfortunately.

Dark Souls 2 was balanced to be hard, not balanced to be fun and then deemed to be difficult. Instead of making the gameplay fun and rewarding and then realizing the game is hard because of that, Dark Souls 2 just makes the game hard. A great thing about the Souls series is that the games before Dark Souls 2 have been tough yet very fair. Dark Souls 2  seems to throw things at you that you couldn’t have possibly been equipped to deal with just so you would die. The game even has a death counter in the main hub of the world to keep count as to how many people have died.

Dark Souls Screen02

Dark Souls 2 difficulty is one of the very few major gripes I have about the game. The other would be its story/lore. Dark Souls 2 relies heavily on the first game for its lore and its story is much more centric to the main character. While these things wouldn’t have been that bad for just about any other game that has recently came out, I think that this hurts Dark Souls 2 quite hard. The reason I feel this is way is because throughout the first game you have a giant sense of exploration and wonder while you slash your way through all the interesting locations, slowly learning new things about the world. In Dark Souls 2 it feels more like they want you to look at all the things that happened in the previous title. They throw a few too many hints back to Dark Souls that it starts to make you want to go back to Dark Souls. It doesn’t have its own feel.

Now Dark Souls 2 did a few things wrong but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do a whole hell of a lot right. Dark Souls 2 improved the combat of the game dramatically. Weapons that weren’t viable before sprang to the fore front of the game and many new interesting fighting mechanics helped along really cool ways to play the game. Dual wielding in Dark Souls was do-able just very clunky and not very powerful. With the addition of the power stance mechanic, dual wielding in Dark Souls 2 is fun, inventive, and extremely powerful if used with the right weapons. The combat in Dark Souls 2 is definitely very fun and extremely rewarding once you get the hang of it.

DarkSouls2Screen02

Dark Souls 2 tries to implement the hub style of Demon’s Souls and the open connected world of Dark Souls to a varying degree of success.  The hub world for Demon’s Souls, The Nexus, makes it’s return in Dark Souls 2 in spirit via Mejula. It is here that you spend your souls that you obtain throughout the game to level up and advance some plot elements. The game also attempts a larger world than Dark Souls and attempts to pull off a sense of connection like the first game. It does so with moderate success. However they have given you the option to fast travel at the very beginning of the game. I speculate that this is to skimp on a level design that would loop back around and connect to the hub world for a few locations. While the game is much bigger than Dark Souls it also feels very disconnected.

Dark Souls 2 still feels like an amazing game and I applaud From Software for their amazing continuation of the Souls series. They left the games fun factor and wit intact and the rewarding combat is still there. With only a few mechanical changes that leave a less than stellar taste in your mouth.

Similar Games Liked:
Demon’s Souls (PS3)
Dark Souls (PC)

Similar Games Disliked:
Lords of the Fallen (PS4)

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