If you are even remotely interested in action RPG video games, Dark Souls is a name you have no doubt heard about. This is a short but in-depth review of the second game in the critically acclaimed Dark Souls series of games created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the third in the Souls series.
|Type of game:||Third-Person Action RPG|
|Multiplayer/Co-Op:||Yes, both PvP and Coop Modes are available|
|Developer:||FromSoftware, Namco Bandai (Publisher)|
|Total Play Time:||48 Hours (average, for the Main Story alone)|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel Core i3 2100 3.10GHz or better
GPU:GeForce GTX 750 or ATI Radeon HD 6870 or higher
RAM: 4 GB
OS: Windows 7 or newer
HDD Space: 15 GB
The World of Dark Souls II
This is one of the most critically acclaimed games out there, with ratings consistently above 9/10 from all gaming publications. It has a Metacritic rating of 91/100 for all version of the game. So let’s check out what is so special about Dark Souls II. Read on to learn more about the game world, characters, storyline and other details of Dark Souls II.
Atmosphere & Location
Much like its predecessor, Dark Souls II also has a massive open world, but this time around it is the Kingdom of Drangleic. This game has a medieval fantasy setting so that you will be fighting both humans and monsters with weapons and magic. The game world is pretty massive and densely populated. Unlike the gameworld of Lordran in the previous game, the world feels a bit more expansive and sprawling this time around.
The Dark Souls series is well known for their unforgiving difficulty levels and extremely dark and bleak. Though there are often bright and well light exteriors, the overwhelming design focus of this game has been to create a harsh and desolate world, populated by haunting locations and a lot of haunted creatures and monsters. There is an overwhelmingly bleak and hollow feeling about the entire game world, including the visuals and music.
This bleakness also carries over to the gameplay. Dark Souls is nothing if not incredibly difficult and challenging. This is a game series that prides itself on being unforgivingly difficult, with massive bosses and even smaller creatures able to kill you with just a few blows. You will encounter giants, skeletal figures, wizards, witches, and all kinds of undead and ghoulish creatures in the world of Drangleic.
A special feature of the game is the PvP gameplay that has been incorporated into the main storyline. If you are playing online, other human players can invade your realm and try to kill you and steal your loot. These enemy humans come in the form of red Dark Spirits and can spawn in specific locations where PvP gameplay is permitted. And you can also invade other player’s game worlds in the same way.
Unlike in other traditional action RPG games, the Souls series does not give you much background information regarding your character, or their stories. The entire game revolves around discovering who you are and what your mission is in this strange and extremely hostile world. So there is a limitation to the amount of backstory we can give away.
But at the core, this is a story about a nameless human adventurer. Your character is given no backstory or context. You wake up cursed and undead, in a strange and hostile world. You can use weapons like swords, spears, and shields, or even use magic to attack and kill your enemies. The story of the game is revealed to you as you explore the world and meet other characters.
As is a hallmark of the Dark Souls series, you will die countless times over the course of the game. The game is very unforgiving and punishes you for even the smallest mistake. But since you are cursed into undead life, you will respawn and can try to defeat your enemies again and again. When you kill enemies, you collect their souls, which can be used to buy your upgrades and experience points.
There are numerous similarities regarding the underlying stories of both Dark Souls I and II. Both games deal with medieval fantasy kingdoms where characters try to acquire great power, only to bring ruin and desolation to the land. But the unnamed protagonist is not related to the main hero of the first game, and this is a fresh new adventure, set in a different land with different lore and characters. The games only share a common gameplay and similar fictional settings.
You are an amnesiac human who died but has been cursed into unending life as an Undead creature. Due to this curse, the player can never die and are continually reborn when killed by monsters and enemies. This might seem like a good thing, but according to the lore surrounding the curse, it is anything but that.
If the curse is not broken, you will gradually degrade into a zombie-like creature called the Hollow, with no memories or purpose. So the story revolves around your attempt to learn more about how to break this curse. It involves exploring the fallen kingdom of Drangleic, and its various regions and dungeons.
You will meet other NPCs along the way, and receive quests to collect various items of power. Obtaining these items involve fighting massive and powerful bosses and killing them. The main quest involves collecting the souls of four immensely powerful beings. During the course of your adventure, you will discover the past story of the Kingdom of Drangleic and the fate of its King and Queen.
Since the game involves constant death and respawning, it uses a system of checkpoints. You can fast travel between checkpoints scattered throughout the world. There is a central hub, a village called Majula. This is where you can find all the merchants, blacksmiths, and other NPC factions.
Factions in the game are called Covenants. You can join these groups to engage in quests, and they are especially useful for Co-op or PvP gameplay. There are two factions, the Company of Champions, and the Way of Blue.
DLC & Expansions
After the release of the base game, the publishers Namco Bandai also released several DLC expansions for Dark Souls II. To date, there are three main DLCs:
- Crown of the Sunken King
- Crown of the Old Iron King
- Crown of the Ivory King
These expansions add further singleplayer campaigns to the base game. They are all paid expansions. But a far better option than buying these DLC separately would be to buy an updated version of Dark Souls II. This new version is called Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin. It included all the DLC, as well as newly upgraded and tweaked single-player storyline as well as multiplayer gameplay. Unless you already own Dark Souls 2, buying Scholar of the First Sin is definitely the way to go.
Dark Souls is a stunning game series, and Dark Souls II is one of those rare sequels that manage to live up to the expectations of both the reviewers and gamers alike. But make no mistake, this is not an easy game. If you expect a chilled out experience like Skyrim, you are in for a rude shock.
Dark Souls will chew you up and spit you out, no matter how much you level up your skills and weapons. But that is part of the draw of this game. Those who play this game end up loving and hating it at the same time. But they all agree that it is a truly special video game. And if you like action RPGs, you should at least give this series a try. You owe it to yourself.