Dark Souls 2 – Review

Dark Souls 2 Logo

Full disclosure here folks, I am a massive ‘Souls’ fanboy. The list of games that I have finished in the last couple of years is a short list and consists of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. Thats not to say I haven’t played any other games, but nothing holds my interest like this series. Needless to say, I was willing to fight all of the other reviewers in some sort of one-armed monkey knife fight to get the review copy. One frantic and bloody afternoon later, I was sitting in front of my TV, controller gripped firmly in blood-soaked hands and starting my journey into the Kingdom of Drangleic.

Dark Souls 2 screenshot
Very Old Dragon, good chance it will kill you.


Initially I was going to do this massive in-depth review for Dark Souls 2, where I explore all facets of the game and go on and on about new additions to the game from the previous series. But then I realised that this would only benefit the hard core ‘Souls’ fans, and since the game came out yesterday, they will already be gently caressing their Collector’s Edition statues while cleansing the Kingdom of Drangleic of its nasty hollow infestation. But for the newcomers to the Souls series it won’t help one bit, so lets step back a bit and talk about Dark Souls 2 from the perspective of a new player.


Dark Souls 2 is an RPG from Japanese developer, From Software, who have a knack for creating games that most players find damn near impossible while at the same time creating a massive cult following from those brave souls who persist through death after excruciating death. The original Dark Souls sat firmly in the ‘too hard’ camp for a heap of gamers until about 6 months ago, where a lot of people sat down, told their families they loved them and got lost in the experience that is Dark Souls.

Dark Souls 2 screenshot
Yeah… What could possibly go wrong here.


Dark Souls 2 will be no different from the previous game, where I feel a lot of gamers are going to hear the hype, pick it up and spend the next 15 hours having their ass handed to them before they throw their hands up in the air and shout NOPE NOPE NOPE all the way back to the store they bought it from. To those players I say, wait friend, lets take some time to explore the world, lets take it slow and not treat it like most other action RPGs where you rush into a group of 10 enemies, mash that attack button and then loot the corpses. If that is your strategy for Dark Souls 2, you will find your feet on the path back to the game store quicker than you can say ‘Praise the Sun’.

Dark Souls 2 screenshot
Using a Torch and Monocle to inspect the sewer system of Drangleic.


Dark Souls 2 is all about slowing making your way through the world. You are not some all powerful demigod that can click your fingers and watch all that stand in your path fall. You are a cursed undead traveller, thrust into the land of Drangleic searching for answers, searching for a cure, and most importantly, searching for souls. Once you select your character class you are given a weapon, slapped on the ass by three old ladies and pushed through the door into the world with no real sense of where to go or what to do. Welcome to Dark Souls 2.


The biggest tip that I can give new players is to take it slow, if you go all ‘God of War’ on a group of enemies, its going to end quickly and not in your favour. Also you really don’t want to die in Dark Souls 2, that is a no brainier for most games, but for every death you have in Dark Souls 2, you lose 10% of your maximum health down to a minimum of 50%. So when you die and you will, make it count for something.


If you do find yourself dying on the one section over and over, look at why you died. Could you have split the group apart? Should you have taken that risk? Did you run out of stamina? Did you get greedy? Look at why you died and LEARN from it. Once you learn why you died, it’s much easier to make sure you don’t do that next time. From there its all about learning the attack patterns, then BAM, thats Dark Souls 2 mastered.

Dark Souls 2 screenshot
None Shall Pass


Dark Souls 2 is set in a superbly detailed rich gothic world of underground tunnels, dark forgotten forests and grand crumbling castles by the sea to name a few. A brand new lighting engine is there to show off a major new addition to Dark Souls 2, the humble torch. Holding a torch in your left hand lights your way through the darker areas of Drangleic, all while casting amazing shadows around your character. Be careful though, using a torch in your left hand will mean you won’t be able to have a shield equipped. But as the age old Dark Souls 2 saying goes, From Soft give’th and From Soft take’th away. This type of give and take is a perfect example –  the torch allows you to see further in the dark, but it means you cannot block. Alternatively, going into that dark area with a shield will let you block but you won’t be able to see who is attacking you and where the hole in the floor is… and there is always a hole in the floor.

Dark Souls 2 screenshot
Dragon Home Security, when only the best will do.


So is Dark Souls 2 for you? Well if you enjoy a challenging, brutally unforgiving game that doesn’t force feed you story. A game that will punish you for your mistakes all while giving you a ridiculously detailed world to explore full of some of the most outlandish creatures you could dream of (hello Scorpion Centaur Man, I am talking to you), then yes, Dark Souls 2 is definitely for you. The combat is fantastic, frantic and so very rewarding when you take the time to understand it. It’s plain to see that it was lovingly crafted by developers that live and breath this world. You will be looking at about 70 hours to complete the game first play though, but obviously expect that to be shorter on your second trip through.


If on the other hand you have limited game time available, don’t want to spend hours on learning how to play the game, are not the best at reactive combat and like to have your hand held while you breeze through the game, then no, I do not think Dark Souls 2 will be a good purchase for you. If you do have the time though I highly recommend you put down Barbie’s Horse Adventures 2: Mission to Moscow, pick up Dark Souls 2 and take it for a spin. Just remember – take it slow and don’t forget to praise the sun.


Rating: 9/10


For more on Dark Souls 2, check out the official Dark Souls 2 YouTube page.

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Praise the Sun