Game Review: Dark Souls 2

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Are you prepared to die again…

From the loading of the game there is no indication of any change, but as soon as you press that magic start button and you are greeted with eerie piano melodies, you realize this isn’t the same game… it’s something much darker.

As the game begins it is narrated by the voice of a woman, and those who have endured the first game will recognize it quite quickly. She explains the curse you must bear from the marking you have obtained (the curse of the marked one).

You witness a woman in a rocking chair with a child, the music begins to darken, and so does the woman, her face melting as a man reaches out to her. You then are amidst a great lake and in the distance is an old tree. Your character walks toward the tree, little glow bugs begin to flow around you grabbing hold of your fingers. It is very cinematic.

Suddenly a great power takes hold and casts the bugs around, torches are lit as they fly by. You walk forward and the broken arches that were once part of a grand castle wall are shown, the camera pans down and you see the reflection, the gate is intact and begins to open… shadows rush out like a great plague swirling around your character.

You begin to walk forward and like a moth to a flame you fall into a dark abyss accepting your preconceived fate. “Your wings will burn in anguish, time and time again…”

New Mechanics in Dark Souls 2:

  • Humanity replaced by Human Effigy
  • Soul Memory
  • AI Learning capabilities

You start the game as a deprived crusader on pilgrimage as you did in the previous game, now one major difference that was noticeable from the start is that instead of creating your personalized character before you get knees deep in hollow blood, in Dark Souls 2 it’s a little different.

You start with a pre-made character that is cloaked so there is no telling what she/he looks like. This allows you to get the feel of the game before you create your character and get down to business. Just like with the first game, there is no set goal or mission tracker to aid you, so you must rely on your instincts to guide yourself.

You continue a little further and come across two paths. The path to the left is your first encounter with an enemy, and for those who have played the first Dark Souls you know that some enemies you can fight but are extremely challenging (this is one of those cases). And considering you have no weapon to start with, it would not be wise to fight said beast.

Cooperative Play

Cooperative play was introduced in Dark Souls which allowed players to receive help on challenging bosses, defend against oncoming invaders from other worlds, or just have fun with some friends. Although there were some issues regarding connectivity problems to other players or just not working in general, overall, the co-op mode was a big hit.

With Dark Souls 2 they continue this great idea while touching up certain mechanics. Instead of waiting an hour to connect with players, they have improved the in-game servers to have a faster connectivity time. While this may seem like an amazing change this also allows players to invade your world much easier. To summon fellow phantoms into your game you need a White Soapstone which distorts the space of time, and allows “Jolly Cooperation!”

Human Effigies/Price to Pay

This leads into another big change in the game play of Dark Souls 2. In the first game when you died, if “humanity” was used you would turn hollow. While hollow you are unable to get the aid of outsiders, as well as receive helpful messages located on the ground.

In Dark Souls 2 all the same applies, but there is a major difference. Once you have died and become hollow, every death after that while hollow will decrease your maximum health bar. And if you are the type of person that dies a lot and runs out of Human Effigies (Humanity) this could be a real problem for you.

This change in game play definitely keeps players on their toes, to be ever so vigil about every move they take throughout the game. It allows for a more challenging yet fun game play experience.

Soul Memory

This is another new mechanic introduced into Dark Souls 2 which basically keeps track of the total amount of souls you collect. Throughout the game you’ll encounter enemies as well as loot you can sell to collect more souls, and in Dark Souls 1, regardless of how many souls you had you could still get the help of your friends as long as they were within your character level range. This is not the case in Dark Souls 2.

In order to summon and play with specific friends they need to have a similar soul memory, this means don’t play too far ahead, or don’t kill anything until said friend is back in game playing. Now if you’re more into joining up with random people then this new feature shouldn’t affect you.

Enemies

In Dark Souls 2 the enemies have increased significantly with their deadliness. While there are new enemies to challenge, there are also past acquaintances to deal with. The combat mechanics have changed to allow enemies to learn from your attacks. If you were to use only magic on a particular enemy they will learn and always counter with shield, or they will charge you to keep the distance small so you don’t get a chance to use magic.

If you are more CQC (Close-Quarters-Combat) then enemies will parry you as well as “turtle” behind shields. This can make it very aggravating to get to a boss losing as little health as possible, yet it makes it the challenging game every one loves.

After playing Dark Souls 2 on Xbox 360 I must say I really enjoyed the amount of game play that was put into it, from the cinematics of the different locations, to the detailed enemies you face, to the challenging bosses. This all made it a wonderful game to play. I must admit It was a frustrating game at times, but in the end I really enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend it to all of you gamers looking for a challenging role-playing game.

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