Prepare To Die…Again and Again and Again.
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely hated myself for even playing Demon’s Souls and then punishing myself again by playing Dark Souls. I let loose salvo after salvo of obscenity while playing both of those titles. So when I found out that I was going to be reviewing Dark Souls II, my left eye started twitching and there were parts of me that just seemed to fill with rage. I managed to clear my mind as I watched the load bar grow and I prepared myself to play the game. What I found was actually pretty astonishing.
Right from the opening cut scene I was hooked. The opening was beautifully rendered, expertly voiced, and was every bit as creepy and ethereal as it should be for the opening of such a torturous adventure. Once the opening concluded, in typical Dark Souls form, I was left high and dry to fend for myself and given no assistance whatsoever.
As I wandered into the first small hut, nestled in the base of a tree, I would learn that I was a cursed soul and that I would either have to collect the souls of the fallen to maintain my humanity or become a Hollow. This is a familiar premise to fans of the series, so I lit the first bonfire, sat down, and rested for a moment to take a peek at the new menu screens and interfaces.
Everything seemed so much more intricate than it has been in past versions, but at the same time the interface was very intuitive and required little time to get familiar with it. In that first hut, I was given the opportunity to select my character class as well as my character’s gift and then select his name. The menu screens for selection of class, gift and name were very smooth and polished. Everything was well placed and very easy to navigate. Once the selections were made, it was time to jump into the action.
As I made my way out of the hut, I headed towards the only light showing in the initial area. A large crack in the rock wall just beyond the first hut was really the only marker to guide me onward. I passed through the crack in the wall and walked into the first settlement. It was a desolate place settled atop a cliff overlooking the sea. The fact that there were no enemies assaulting me gave me a moment to get a look at how the new engine really brings the graphics to a whole new level.
The seas looked gorgeous and almost serene as they rolled along. The skies had an eerie realism to them and the sounds were very in tune with the scene set before me. Again, as I spoke to villagers, the voice acting seemed very spot on. There were a few times where it seemed that whoever had voiced a character may have been a little slow on the delivery, but all in all everything felt as it should.
Moving on from the settlement, there was no direction to speak of. There were only a plethora of doors and cracks in walls and misted caves that I could enter to continue my cursed walk. One of the things I like best about the Dark Souls series is that there are never any hints, help or tutorials to get you going. You really just have to learn as you go—as I imagine you would if you awoke a cursed soul in an unfamiliar place.
The Kingdom of Drangleic is a place wrought with the stuff of nightmares, and they are all out to get you. Having chosen an apparently simple path to begin with, the enemies I faced escalated as I progressed. There were a few times where I was being hit with volleys of arrows from enemies that I could not get to. There were times when I would be in the heat of battle, find myself precariously close to a cliff edge, then get knocked off by a simple hit and have to start all the way back at the last bonfire.
There were really only a few things that I saw wrong with the game as a whole. There were times where the graphics engine had not caught up with what was going on and there would be a flowing bit of clothing that would appear to materialize through an enemy or set piece. There were several times that the direction of my character’s attacks never really seemed to be headed in the direction I was commanding. Lastly, there were some poorly rendered areas of tall grass and trees that looked cheap and kind of low budget against the backdrop of an incredibly rendered background. But all in all, I had no real issues with the game. There wasn’t anything I encountered that would make me not want to continue playing. That being said, I think I am going to go play more…right now.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Some foreground elements looked cheap. 3.5 Control
Some directional control issues. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Almost no soundtrack and some voice over sync issues. 5.0 Play Value
A frustrating but satisfying experience. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best