I admit, the first time I ever picked up a Dark Souls game (well, lets be honest, I picked up Demon’s souls) I found it annoying, frustrating, and couldn’t figure out why they’d make it so hard. The biggest gripe, it’s not all about hit points! That’s a cheap way to make a game harder! I put it back down for a very long time, when I finally re-opened it with the intent to get back some lost pride, I decided, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me since I was 9 years old and I discovered my first MMO.
Dark Souls II, as soon as I found it was coming out I had to purchase it. Sitting in gamestop for 15 minutes trying to ward off the guy convincing me to buy the collectors edition (I wanted it so badly) I settled on the basic game and brought it home. Deep down inside I had a small fear, what if its much harder? What if I can’t beat it? Will I lose my gamer pride again? Is this going to hurt? Was this a good idea? Yes, yes, yes and yes. This game was an amazing purchase.
First off, I’m a sucker for anything character customization and I knew it’s predecessors satiated my need to make a strong female character with red hair. I’m rather predictable, so at the start of the game I realized I had no character customization, I was some dude! I panicked! Yelled! Frightened my bf! Then I calmed myself, okay, this could just be a lead in, lets go through this first area first and see what happens. Much to my delight, I indeed jumped the gun. The character customization set up in Dark Souls II had me reeling in joy, I engulfed myself in it for a good hour fudging the exact way her chin looks compared to her tattoo that I decided would only be on part of her face.
I had so much joy going through the very first of the game, trying to find certain ways to kill creatures, not falling, realizing that only on my billionth time visiting a certain area did I miss something, staring at the torches trying to decide if I should light them all and what the hell they are for. The game was gorgeous, and they had a lot more characters you could interact with, this kept things a little more interesting. The world is enticing to explore, but also has a huge bitter taste to it as when you get stuck often, you get really stuck.
Unlike its previous ones, the game only lets you kill creatures a certain amount of times. After you bash their brains in a lot they stop respawning, this is both the boon and bane of my existence. One because I like to run through areas to find secrets I missed without interruption, two because I did not realize and figured when I died “oh no problem, I’ll farm more souls later.” Negative. But it does give you a bigger punishment for failing to retrieve your souls, which, believe me, had me crying out in agony more than once.
Combat is similar to the first, mostly involving the stamina meter that dictates how much of any action you can do. (I.e. running, jumping, blocking, attacking, and spells.) If there is ever a game to leave button mashing at the door, it’s this one. Only careful consideration to movements and sheer dumb luck will get you through this game. (I’m guilty of rushing in and slamming my “HIT IT FAST BUTTON” a few times in desperation, I probably shouldn’t admit it actually helped me a couple of times)
When you die you will slowly deplete your max health until you hit 50%, and is fairly manageable if you die once or twice but after awhile you just feel silly and desperately search to revive. The game is very similar to the first but still very difficult, sometimes I found myself wanting to reach back in and play Dark Souls 1 but then looking at how pretty and new the game was I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
The biggest thing I miss from Dark Souls 1 that I haven’t seen in 2 yet (though I haven’t beat it yet, boo on me.) is the sheer fact that in Dark Souls 1 when I first heard the “Bell” ringing I had already been playing for about 2 days and heard no such noise, so I waited, and it happened very little and sporadically, I was sure it couldn’t be a random sound affect. Sure enough, the sound of other people ringing the bell brings my heart aflutter. Though there is a goal in Dark Souls 2 I am striving for, it is not quiet as satisfying as that damn bell. I don’t know what it is, but that’s just a personal thing I suppose.
The frame rate is gorgeous and the sound can be deceptively soothing sometimes, though also jump your heart rate up when certain music comes on going “No no no I didn’t mean to do thaat!”
Regardless, I find this game to be the epitome of what we as gamers need more of. I’d give it, personally, a 4/5.