Dark Souls changed the way I play video games. Every other modern game seems undemanding in comparison, and certainly not half as fulfilling.~Eric Hollis
Dark Souls 2
The original Dark Souls is one of my favorite titles of all time. Truth be told, I hated it the first time I picked it up. I couldn’t even defeat the first boss, and in a fit of geek rage I took the game back to the store, vowing to play something more enjoyable. This decision to give up so easily haunted my pixilated nightmares. Six months later I attempted it again and I’ve never looked back, it’s slowly becoming one of my favorite games of all time. The main reason: it’s so damn rewarding. Sure, it’s tougher than leather, but also completely fair, impatience and bad timing are your greatest enemies, not the gigantic bosses who can (and will) demolish your health bar in one well-timed combination. Needless to say the sequel had a lot to live up to.
Thankfully From Software hasn’t made many changes to the original formula that still feels so close to perfection. The game is a lot prettier graphically than the original, oceanfront hub Majula is certainly a more visually comforting place than Firelink Shrine, though both areas function exactly the same. Bosses are consistently brutal and seem to appear a lot more frequently, and normal enemies can still take your souls after one ill-timed blocking attempt. Prepare to die. Often.
Dark Souls 2 also never holds your hand or provides more information than absolutely necessary. I’ve had numerous friends restart entirely after finding out they were using items the wrong way or making character builds that just don’t succeed in combat. I even completely respec’d my own character after I realized that a very strong shield was needed to get past a certain boss. Granted, you can locate tons of information on the internet, but that takes away all of the gratification earned by figuring things out for yourself. Playing this with a walkthrough will completely rob you of one of the most worthwhile and demanding gaming experiences out there.
One major tweak that might infuriate gamers is the new health bar reduction. When you die, a small portion of your health bar is permanently removed. The only way to restore it is with a very rare item called an effigy; these also essentially replace humanity from the first game. This new twist on the formula made me a lot more cautious at first, but eventually I just learned to function with half a health bar at all times.
The other major change is the ability to fast travel from the very beginning of your quest. The player didn’t gain this ability until roughly halfway through the original and it definitely changes the overall pacing of the game for the better. I was never faced with conquering one boss to move forward, there were always at least three paths open to me I could utilize at any time. This overcomes this sheer frustration I felt on the first title when I was stuck in Anor Londo for over a week trying to best Orenstein and Smough. There are always multiple options in Dark Souls 2, which in a title this exhausting can never be a bad thing.
Dark Souls changed the way I play video games. Every other modern game seems undemanding in comparison, and certainly not half as fulfilling. When I walk up to an unopened treasure chest I always take a precautionary swing. Always. Even if I think there is no danger, I do it just in case the chest turns into a toothy monster ready to devour me down to the marrow. I expect a trap around every corner because there usually is one. It’s made me a shaky, paranoid mess and I’ve begged for and enjoyed every single second of it.
Dark Souls 2 is more addictive than pure heroin. I’ve never done heroin, but I have a few friends that have. I’m basing this statement on how quickly they were willing to sell me their game collections to obtain more heroin.