Dark Souls II’s relentlessly unforgiving nature drives its superlative power fantasy
Players in Dark Souls II can summon allies – who appear as white ghostly characters – to help them defeat bosses and clear areas throughout the game and can also have their session invaded by other players who try to kill them. Courtesy of From Software
Game: Dark Souls II
Platform: PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], Xbox 360 and PC
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Released: March 11 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; April 25 for PC
Dark Souls is like a psychologically abusive relationship.
It entrances you with its sense of challenge, adventure and power, but is eventually depleting. It tears you down time and again but keeps you coming back for more.
It is an addictive cycle that's hard to break and even more gratifying to overcome.
As fans of the series know, Dark Souls thrives on providing players with a never-ending sense of challenge, allowing players to return to cleared areas levels later to lay waste to the enemies that once destroyed them - fulfilling the game's power fantasy.
Many games teach players how to swim before letting them make their way to the deep end, but Dark Souls plunges players into the deep end and forces them to figure out how to swim on their own.
Players might briefly find success, but it doesn't take long for the game to force them into witnessing the visceral loss of all their progress at the hands of one of the game's earliest bosses, and for the game to fracture their confidence in beating it.
Though Dark Souls II has a few tutorials and characters throughout it that help the player understand the game's core elements, it certainly isn't easier than its predecessors. It quickly becomes another unnerving reminder of humanity's frailty, even in the treacherous, decaying, clandestine and fantastical land of Drangleic - the game's setting.
The game starts with the player's character awakening in "Things Betwixt" - the first area of the game - with no memory of his or her former self. The character is cursed with an insatiable need to acquire souls, particularly those of the game's four grand bosses that might lift the curse.
Souls act as currency for everything in the game including weapons, armor, spells, potions, upgrades and level-ups. And though collecting them from the bodies of hundreds of slain foes is remarkably satisfying, it can also be heartbreakingly infuriating to lose tens of thousands of them at a time when you die.
Death in Dark Souls II is certain - it will likely happen hundreds of times in a play-through - and causes a player to drop all of his or her souls. The dropped souls can be collected if the player makes it back to where he or she died, but if the player dies again, those souls are lost forever.
At the game's onset, spending souls to minimize the risk of losing them is easy with levels and items costing little. After a while, however, the game forces players to carry increasingly sizeable number of souls and face the game's cruelty head on. Between traps, bosses, enemies and other players invading your session to try to kill you, the game's propensity for being unforgiving and relentless finds plenty of chances to assert itself.
But the utter satisfaction of seeing "victory achieved" pop up on the screen after clearing an area and killing the boss that has, time after time, defeated the player is something few games can match.
Dozens of levels later, going back through earlier parts of the game and obliterating enemies that once singlehandedly slaughtered the player furthers this sense of satisfaction and the game's power fantasy, which thrive on overcoming its inherently challenging design.
This becomes more rewarding as players progress through the game and encounter previously defeated bosses who have become less important enemies scattered throughout each level.
Dark Souls II amps up almost every aspect of the original Dark Souls with a larger, more detailed and varying world, more types of enemies and more bosses for players to conquer. The game improves online play and adds features like a fast travel system.
Those improvements keep the game's grueling atmosphere at bay by constantly leaving the player with something new to discover - even when it leads to an untimely demise at the hands of an enemy far too powerful for the player's level in the game.
Despite Dark Souls II's length, which can take 40 to 100 hours to complete per play-through, the never-ending sense of uneasiness and challenge never impedes on the game's sense of adventure.
It may be hard, even infuriating, but the gratification of completing Dark Soul II is well worth the countless hours it will take.
Don't give up.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More ubspectrum News Articles
Recent ubspectrum News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR UBSPECTRUM NEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST UBSPECTRUM NEWS
- Anthone Taylor uses motivation from his departed friend and current mentor to...
- Perfume Genius’ “Too Bright” casts a strikingly subtle shadow
- Animals deserve protection, but Andre Robinson doesn’t deserve jail time
- Beauty is in the details: FIFA 15 review
- From the Cradle to the Grave and back
- Lost identity in the Sonora Desert
- McCarley Gardens residents ‘at ease’ for now in Buffalo
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Got a Headache? Manage it With Chiropractic Care
- 3 Pescadores Rescatados en el Mar gracias a Dispositivo GPS
- When It Comes to Winter Roof Checkups, the Attic Is Your...
- Is It Time to Sell Your Structured Settlement for Cash?
- Pest Proof Now to Protect Homes for Winter
- 3 Fishermen Rescued at Sea Thanks to GPS Device
- Mes de la Hispanidad inspira liderazgo, empoderamiento,...
- Majority of Moms and Moms-to-Be Believe in Public...
- Wineries Speak Up About the Benefits of Using Natural Cork
- Taking a Holistic Approach to Fit Living
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- Over 2,000 Groups Prepare to “Hit the Streets” with Volunteers and Celebrities for National Voter Registration Day on September 23, 2014
- Peace Corps Director Calls on College Students to Make a Difference After Graduation Through International Service
- USA NETWORK AND VERIZON LAUNCH THE “CHARACTERS UNITE COLLEGE TOUR” COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS TO BRING A USA NETWORK CELEBRITY AND A WORTHY CAUSE TO THEIR CAMPUS
- WHEN GEORGIA SMILED: THE ROBIN MCGRAW REVELATION FOUNDATION TEAMS WITH PIVOT AND STUDENTS OF THE WORLD TO LAUNCH THE #iASPIRE GRANT CONTEST
- Latino Groups Launch National Campaign to Deliver Record Latino Turnout for 2014 Midterm Elections