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‘Dark Souls 2’ Review in Progress

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I loved the original Dark Souls. I consider in one of the best games ever made. With just over 196 hours of gaming clocked in Dark Souls, it is likely to be one of my most played games in my life. That being said, you can believe that today is a great day for me. Dark Souls 2 was released and I was waiting to get my copy the moment my local gaming store opened. (I reached out to Bandai Namco for an early release but did not receive a copy)

As this is a huge game and will take a large number of hours to complete, and then play through again on New Game+ I have decided to give the readers of StickSkills a ‘review in progress’ to highlight my adventures through the world of Drangleic, the new world/region that Dark Souls 2 takes place in. Check back over the next couple of days for more impressions.

Character Creation
Wow,… those are some pretty awful hair styles *shakes head* they are worse than before and feel like you have fewer options. I wasn’t a fan of any of the defaults to be honest but the advanced settings allowed me much more freedom to create the character that I really wanted to play as. I generally am not one for advanced character creation but I found this feature to be very in depth and I ended up creating a character to be proud of.
The First Few Hours….
This game feels like Dark Souls and yes, this is a good thing. An incredible thing to be honest. Most sequels feel a little different but this one is just right. The game was familiar the moment that I was given control over my character (and switching the run/jump button back to ‘o’ instead of the initially mapped L3, and slowing the camera sensitivity, which seem to be the only control changes that I have noticed from the previous game.)
I was initially not a fan of the new menu system as I really enjoyed the previous model, but this version has grown on me. It really seems more accessible, and instead of the menu completely blocking the players view, the screen shifts to place the players avatar to the right of the screen allowing easier movement while sifting through the menu than ever before.

Majula, the one real hope for the world to get better, is the hub town that the player will spend a good amount of time in during their playthrough of Dark Souls 2. This town is reminiscent of the Firelink Shrine from Dark Souls with the added importance of the player needed to visit this town every single time they wish to upgrade (much like the woman in black that you found in The Nexus in Demon’s Souls.) I am liking the feel of this area of the game. It seems calm, yet it has felt the pains of the world…. poetic.

 

The new fast travel mechanic allows you to travel from bonfire to bonfire (as long as you have lit the bonfire) right from the start of the game. I was against this idea as I loved traversing the previous map and earning the Lord Vessel (which granted fast travel in the original Dark Souls,) yet, the mechanic works in this game. I would want to level at bonfires if it wasn’t present.
The game has looked beautiful thus far. I’ve seen a diverse landscape already in the short amount of time that I have been playing and I can only believe that I will see even more incredible sights (and the trailers for the game may have backed up my assumption.) I’ve also noticed that the enemies seem to have been more lovingly created. All of the enemies that I have faced look great. I have enjoyed the encounters simply because I am curious what they will throw at me next, without even mentioning the incredible combat that is ever present in the Souls games.
I was able to live from the character creation screen to my first death for 47 minutes though I admittedly did something stupid for this first death. Eleven more deaths followed though during my first eight hours of the game and I deserved all of them as I fell in battle. The tough but fair mechanic still seems to be holding true because I accepted each one of these deaths as my own failure and never once felt that the game was being cheap.
The first boss that I encountered was an easy victory, but I soon found a few more boss fights that gave me a good run for my money,… or souls… I guess it was for my souls. The glorious feeling of tensely making your way back to your bloodstain to collection your previous currency of souls is still present, and it is still euphoric to get your souls back, and devastating to see a portion of your hard earned souls vanish, never to be seen again.
Just a few things that I have noticed thus far that I will need to look into more before commenting are jumping and points of safety in Dark Souls 2. The jump mechanic seems to be tweaked slightly as I haven’t been able to land all of my jumps the way I expect, but I am not sure why yet. I almost feel like my jump distance is shorter. I also discovered that you aren’t always safe at previously safe points, so be on the look out for dangers when you would have normally felt the weight removed ever so briefly from your shoulders. I will have more on this in a future post.
My next section of the ‘review in progress’ while mention gameplay, story progression, and the upgrading systems.
Dark Souls 2 was developed by FromSoftware and produced by Bandai Namco for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. The game was released for PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 11th 2014 with a PC version to follow. The reviewer is playing the Playstation 3 copy. A final evaluation will be given at the end of the review in progress.

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