Smarter enemies, better graphics, and that same excruciating difficulty that makes you both cry and laugh – what more could you want from Dark Souls 2?
It’s a game that develops from its predecessor’s notoriety for being unforgiving in nature, added with additional countless hours of try-try-again reiterations and terrifying enemies that would make you whimper after even the slightest misjudgment.
Yes, Dark Souls 2 reanimates the merciless ashes of the original game, but with more finesse, and much, much more brutality. The stupendously difficulty but doable nature of Dark Souls made it a legendary game, though it lacked luster in graphics and overall presentation.
Once you could see past these deficiencies, and commit yourself to the unpredictable challenges that it threw at you after every two minutes, Dark Souls became more than just a hack-and-slash game; it was like playing chess with Garry Kasperov, except much more intense and yet with slightly higher chances of you succeeding.
When Dark Souls 2 was first announced, all those virtual muscles that had been built by exercising my character through hours of gruesome battles and repeated attempts regained their lust for more demonic blood. The minimalistic feel of the game returns in its successor, and so does its variety of clever methods to kill you.
You play as another nameless character, with little knowledge of the past or the plot, but Namco suggests that within this eerie lack of information lies a vague connection between the two games.
You once again stroll through castles and dead courtyards, with the fear of being decimated by a random creature still in the back of your mind, preventing casual movements and always making you question your every move.
But like Dark Souls, encounters with these bestial foes is inevitable. Enemies have a larger move-set, utilized by a much more refined AI, making battles even more troublesome and analytical than before. This way, Dark Souls 2 ensures that you’re never truly at rest, and your love-hate relation with reattempts of failed battles remains pure.
While the game amps up the heat in some aspects, it also allows additional breathing space with some new features. One of these features is the Lifegems.
These items regenerate health very slowly, and only by a small fraction of what the Estus would give you. However, unlike the Estus, you won’t be slowed down by using Lifegems, allowing you to maintain your concentration on enemies. Because of the smarter AI, any window of opportunity seen by the enemy will be availed, and that means certain doom when using Estus in undesirable situations.
Another new feature that may or may not favor you is dual-wielding. Any player who has invested more than just a few hours in Dark Souls would know that sacrificing a shield is a risky maneuver, but certain enemies can be dealt with better through more aggression than defense, which is where such options become vital for your progression.
This attribute is further emphasized in the character classes, which include a warrior, a sorcerer, a temple knight, and a dual-swordsmen. Namco states that the dual-swordsmen is by far the most difficult to play with, because of his lack of ability to wield a shield effectively.
So, it’s time to ask yourself: are you prepared for yet another sadistically crafted game that primes death as the most recurring aspect and the only tutor? It’s a question that all those who have spilled their own blood in Dark Souls will say yes to in unity.
You can expect the game to arrive on March 14 next year for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.