Should we mention the difficulty straight away? We probably should. Dark Souls II is difficult, just as Dark Souls was difficult, just as Demon’s Souls was difficult, just as the King’s Field games were difficult.
There were fears that the experience would be toned down so the game could appeal to a wider audience, but our time with Dark Souls II – about two hours and some 20-plus deaths – shows that isn’t quite the case.
Anyone stepping back into this world of difficulty and despair will be instantly familiar with the surroundings – Dark Souls II is still an action role-playing game set in a dark fantasy world.
You trudge about an open-ish world looking for… well, we’re not sure what you’re looking for just yet. But on the way you’ll encounter a lot of things that want to kill you.
While you’re well equipped to battle your way through the hordes of the undead/fantastical monsters/blokes with swords and so on, Dark Souls II is a game that will punish you for making mistakes.
How do you know you’re making mistakes? Well, you die after you make them. Not every time, but a lot of the time. Sounds terrible, right?
Well no, not at all – because just like its predecessors, Dark Souls II is very fair in its punishments. You suffer setbacks because of your own failings, not because the game is inherently unfair. You die (and die again) because you messed up.
It’s such a simple concept, but one you don’t see much of in modern gaming. And it’s why, even after a limited time with Dark Souls II, we could see it’s going to draw us into its world once more.
If the sequel is even half as engaging and engrossing as the original, it’ll easily be one of 2014’s best games.
The first game was a cult hit, but it gathered a good deal of momentum from enthusiasts in the press and public who praised the game whenever they could. So it’s little surprise to see everyone’s favourite ‘bloke with parts in Spaced and Shaun of the Dead’ Peter Serafinowicz involved with Dark Souls II.
Some might write it off as a publicity stunt, attaching a fairly well-known name to the game to get it seen by a wider audience – but we just see it as a prime example of a series gaining the wider renown and acceptance it deserves.
We welcomed back difficult gaming with Demon’s Souls, we truly celebrated it with Dark Souls – and with Dark Souls II, we might just be able to enjoy dying in our droves. Our advice? Embrace the Dark.
Dark Souls II is coming to PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 14, with a PC version coming at a later point.