It has been over a month since the release of Dark Souls 2. I may be exaggerating, but I feel comfortable in saying that this was one of most highly anticipated sequels in recent history. After dying, learning, and dying some more, I finally know what I want to say about Dark Souls 2. Now, since he game has been out for a while, at this point there is no end to the reviews and walkthroughs. I won’t spend much time talking about the actual world or the gameplay. Instead, I will focus on simply what I did and did not like about the game. First, it must be said that both Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 are a continuation of a game called Demon’s Souls. Demon’s Souls was the first game of its type that I had ever played, and though Dark Souls was always a welcome installation, I can’t help but compare the new ones to the old one. This comparison brings to light certain pros and cons I feel about the game.
Let’s talk about the pros first. The first thing I noticed when I started the game is that it looks different. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it better or worse, but then I got to Majula. Stepping out of the dark, rocky passage from the tutorial and into the light of the sun didn’t just look amazing, it felt amazing. The sun setting in the distance over the waves of the brackish ocean stirred the adventurer in me, and made me want explore even more. Once I got deeper in I recognized the same delightfully challenging obstacles and solutions that are the signature of the Souls series.Tough bosses, merciless traps, and the promise of treasure were all enough to make me fall in love with this game like I did with the others.
The developers are very aware of their signature and have added things like the torch to offer players yet another strategy in numerous situations. They have also added a character to the first town called the Emerald Herald that plays the same role as the Black Maiden in Demon’s Souls. The Herald allows you to level up and reinforce your healing, but she also provides interesting information about the world of Drangleic and it’s history. The developers dare the players to explore the world, and in the process, they uncover the story. That is probably my favorite thing about these games, and they haven’t given it up in this one.
Now let’s talk about the cons. Immediately I realized that when making characters, the starting classes leave a lot to be desired. The stats have been changed to force players to put points into things like resistance, which does mostly nothing, and the item selection feels bare. These are small gripes. You could argue that both of those things were true about one or both the last two games, and they are elements that give players options on how they want to progress through the game. I understand why they did it, but when coupled with some of the other new features, it makes for a very frustrating time to say the least. For example, they added an element to dying in the game where the more you die, the weaker you become. This makes it more difficult to progress and generally survive in the game.
I could go on about the new iterations that make the game harder, but when coupled together these elements make the game feel unnecessarily hard at times. This is my biggest issue with Dark Souls 2. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m just complaining because I’m bad at it, or that I’m not tough enough to explore the dangerous world of Drangleic. I have more hours on Dark Souls than any other game except maybe Tekken 6, and I have probably double that on Demon’s Souls. I fear that the story and adventure of the game will eventually be lost, and that the game will only cater to what I call game masochists. You know the type: people who beat Resident Evil 5 with nothing but the knife, people who have all the trophies in Super Meat Boy, people who can play Super Ghouls and Ghosts for more than fifteen minutes at a time with out throwing something out of rage.
I am not about that life! Make a game challenging, sure. Make it difficult, I’m all for it. However, a game should never feel impossible. Dark Souls 2 is far from impossible, but I feel like they are leaning in that direction. To sum it up, I liked the game a lot, but with this series I never want to feel like the risk isn’t worth the reward, and I hope the next one steers far away from that.