Dark Souls II — You’ll Die… and Die… and Die…

Dark Souls II

I meant to write a post about Dark Souls II’s predecessor Dark Souls (more specifically, Steam’s Prepare to Die edition) but never finished my thoughts on how the game will make you rage over and over and over. Guess what, that hasn’t changed. For people that don’t know the game series began back with Demon’s Souls. It is an action role-playing hack and slash that is insanely difficult. So much that in Dark Souls II, there is an achievement for the first time you die, because it will simply become that normal of an occurrence.

Dark Souls II will make you incredibly angry. A lot of times it’s extremely unfair, takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience. You learn quickly in the game how you prefer to play, between up close and personal to poking enemies down from far away. You’ll get 40 minutes into an area just to die and have to do it all again. But that’s the beauty of this game. It’s not made to be a nice and easy game, it’s a challenging, mind wrenching game that forces you to be intelligent about healing, stamina, and spacing. Where you stand, when to dodge, and when to attack is something you learn by running in and fighting the enemies (even if that is 40 minutes into an area and suddenly there’s a new enemy). It’s all about the attack patterns and the tells.

Enemies (boss in this case) can be pretty large and scary.
Enemies (boss in this case) can be pretty large and scary.

Dark Souls II visually is stunning. If your computer can handle everything maxed out it looks amazing, if it can’t, it still looks pretty good. The cinematic sequences more specifically are awesome. I’m normally not one for sitting through opening cinematics, but I watched all of Dark Souls II’s cinematic.

Game play is great. If you played Dark Souls, the only thing that has really changed since then is how you jump (previously you had to double tap the run button to jump, in Dark Souls II you can now map it to whatever you’d like).  Movement is fairly basic in this game, you can run, dodge roll, back step and jump. That is all you have, and it’s really all you need. Combat is somewhat simple with melee weapons all have a light attack and a heavy attack. What makes it fun though is that the move set can vary from weapon to weapon. What direction it is swung, how fast it’s swung, how long recovery is, how it combos will all affect what weapon you will choose to use. Another change from Dark Souls is the introduction of dual wielding. Dual wielding opens up larger damage potential with the sacrifice of defense. You move set varies slightly and dual wielding move sets open up when the two weapons have similar move sets. The weapons in the game includes daggers, swords, spears, polearms, greatswords, ultra greatswords, bows, crossbows, chimes, staves, and a few more I can’t recall.

Just a few weapons (and a bunch of doubles)
Just a few weapons (and a bunch of doubles)

There’s also spells, hexes, pyromancy, and miracles making up the magic you can use. Each weapon’s damage scales according to your character stats, so make sure you pay attention to that as well. As you can see there is plenty of experimenting to be done to find your play style and weapon.

How you play through the game is fairly free flow. Any area that is available to go to, you can go to and play. If you go to a difficult area at a low level, it will be difficult, but you can still beat it as long as you have the skills.

I’m not quite sure why, but this series has had me enthralled since Demon’s Souls. I don’t know if it’s because of how challenging it is or because of how rewarding it does feel to progress, but the game has me hooked. This is one game I definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys hack & slash’s and likes high levels of difficulty.

Have you played the Dark Souls series? What do you think about it?