If you’ve never played a Souls game before, I highly recommend you head over to Alec’s, (aka Alecs Pillik), review, as he provides a stellar look form the viewpoint of a newcomer to the series.
For veterans of the Souls series, death is something that we’re used to. We’ve been stabbed, smashed, smeared, poked, dissolved; you name it, we’ve probably died from it. However, to us each death makes us stronger, smarter, and faster. Much like those who play it, the Souls series has learned along the way. It’s gotten more refined since its debut in 2009 with its hit Demon’s Souls, and now developer From Software has pulled out all the stops to create the ultimate Souls experience. Dark Souls 2 is a great game for newcomers to the series (as Alec will discuss), but it’s also an anthem for the fans.
And I mean this in almost every way. I can’t count the number of things in Dark Souls 2 that are almost nostalgic to me when I play it. It’s amazing how smooth the transition between each game is, and From Software masterfully plants subtle hints of connections in the first true sequel in the series. For those who, like me, absolutely love the lore in the series, you will not be disappointed in the least as we’ll be uncovering hints, and theorizing on forums for many months to come.
Dark Souls 2 also marks the beginning of making the series more accessible. Though I did miss the traditional trial by fire approach, the first hour or so of the game is indeed much more welcoming of newcomers to the series than previous instalments, and also serves as a nice warm up for the veterans. Dark Souls 2 does a great job of balancing the gruelling difficulty, and opening its arms to a more mainstream audience. New features, such as the ability to redistribute your points, makes the game more forgiving, but the item needed for it is very rare—making the player choose carefully the next time they level up. This balance truly is impressive, and I don’t think anyone but From Software could pull it off with such finesse. Finally, to top it all off, the game is always fair, even at its most ridiculously hard points.
Dark Souls 2 is like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time; all the fond memories and experiences flood back when you see it. The second I sat down and started exploring the vast kingdom of Drangleic, I felt nostalgia and excitement. The gameplay mechanics fit like a glove, and I picked up all my old combat techniques right away. Though it’s been tweaked a little bit, the gameplay isn’t in any way affected negatively. If anything, From Software has modified combat so that any cheap tricks used in the first game are more difficult to pull off. I found this refreshing as I had to relearn some of my old moves, which made me feel like a babe in the woods, rather than a professional who was going to fly through the game with ease.
You will die in Dark Souls 2. You will die a lot. I’ve got hundreds upon hundreds of hours of experience with the Souls series, and I’m still dying a lot. It’s not a perfect game, but any gripes I have with it are so insignificant to the overall experience that I can’t possibly hold them against this great a game. From Software has delivered one hell of a sequel; one that rivals the masterpiece that was Dark Souls. Any game that can do that needs to be played. Whether you’re new to the series or not.