As games go, the Souls series is a camp splitter, those that get it love it (especially the punishment) and those that don’t often find themselves sheepishly returning to the retailer for a refund. Dark Souls 2 has recently been unleashed on the unwary, so what better time to get Barrie to strap on a helm and trudge into the darkness…
After complete failure in my attempts to defeat Dark Souls 1, I have to admit to being a bit wary of Dark Souls 2. Don’t get me wrong, Dark Souls 1 is a fantastic game, as is Dark Souls 2. But rage quitting, controller throwing, and swearing at the TV on an almost constant basis shouldn’t keep you wanting to come back for more. Should it? I guess it is proof to how much fun the Dark Souls games are. Even if the word ‘fun’ can sometimes mean ‘annoying as hell’!
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So as per most RPG’s you start off with a bit of character design which includes looks and initial play style. This is by no means set in concrete as all skills and abilities can be increased as you see fit in general game play. If that sneaky-sneaky ranged style is working for you, then you can start dropping points into strength and grab a nice big sword. From there you venture out into the big bad world, and I assure you, it is one very big, very bad world. Some say easier than the first Dark Souls, but juggling chainsaws on a tightrope while blindfolded with one arm tied behind your back is easier than Dark Souls…
Probably the biggest change in Dark Souls 2 is the fact that enemies don’t infinitely respawn when you rest at a campfire. After a while they just cease to exist. This makes it easier to get around but removes the ability to ‘farm’ souls, the in game currency, to increase you abilities and gear. I am currently at a point where there is a lack of beatable enemies but am still too weak to take on larger enemies and access new areas. Although with the amount of secrets and hidden areas, I might be just going the wrong way.
Starting the game in human form, death will see you return as Hollowed, a ghostly visage of you human self. You can continue playing in Hollowed form, with some restrictions, the biggest being the drop in health each time you are killed, down to 50% of your maximum. Makes it hard to take on the big fellas. You can return to Human form with the use of a Human Effigy but these are scarce and need to be saved for the right moments.
The return of the ability to summon friends to help with your quest is a godsend for many with stronger friends making boss battles all the easier, but with with this ability also returns invaders. Player killers who can invade your game and make your day just all that harder. Covenants and Indictments also return to assist and punish in the multiplayer areas of the game. To be honest, Dark Souls 2 is just as in-depth as its predecessor and with little in the way of tutorials you should really give Dark Souls 1 a crack just to understand many of the intricacies.
The look of Dark Souls is beautiful and unique. Every thing from dark caves to expansive sun drenched coastlines, remember to set the HUD setting to auto hide so you can really enjoy the views. Audio is also up to scratch with ominous tunes, growling monsters, and the sound of foot steps increasing in pace as you have been spotted! One small gripe I would have is with the control method, in particular, jumping. At times jumping plays an important part in your survival and may be I am just bad at it, but the jumping controls seem to be a bit convoluted. Definitely not a game breaker but an added frustration in an already frustrating game.
Dark Souls 2, like its predecessor, is not a game for the casual gamer. Nor is it a game for anyone with anger management problems. It is frustrating, sometimes confusing, but with perseverance and commitment comes a great sense of achievement and an amazing gaming experience. I didn’t really have the commitment for Dark Souls 1 but after getting into Dark Souls 2, I will definitely be revisiting number one again soon. So take a big breath, relax and take a walk in a game that will test your sanity and may even bring out some character traits you would rather not see. Just remember every time you die, it is your fault, not the games!