Dark Souls II

If you’re reading this because you (like millions of people) await the glorious wisdom I hand down from my solid gold highchair, you should know this: I wrote this review in a quick booze-and-ink break from playing Dark Souls II, and as soon as I’m done I intend to plunge right back into that bastard like a poisoned dart into a human face. Or the teeth of a giant chest-mimic bastard into a human face. Or an axe into the back of the head of a blonde warrior-woman, just a split second before that last chug of estius can take effect, goddamnit.

This will be the second perfect score this site has ever given a game because, simply put, it does what it seeks to do like nothing else.
If you’ve played the first one, it’s like that, but moreso.
Wotan, I’m good. Now to go teach a pre-capitated Gorgonite asshole what my Brienne of Tarth look-a-like avatar thinks about fucking poison snake assholes.
(Alright, alright. I’ll do my fucking job. Velka!)

Dark souls 2 continues in the Dark Souls tradition (and Demon Souls too, technically, but if I start naming all the influences to a game like this I’ll end up talking about The Legend of Zelda and the universe will collectively shit itself out of existence with pure elemental surprise) by being fucking beautiful.
Seriously. You’d think a game about crawling through a gritty, shit splattered world would get tediously grim, but the pure variation you get in vaguely medieval apocalyptica seized my interest by its throat and chokeslammed that flighty little bastard into a noxious mire until the bubbles stopped.

To be fair, I'd run for cover if a shambling horror in heavy armour started thrusting a burning torch at me.

To be fair, I’d run for cover if a shambling horror in heavy armour started thrusting a burning torch at me.

It looks kind of like a Boris Valeho painting, if Boris Valeho had married Rick Genest and developed an addiction to experimental Hallucinogens. (or maybe not)

You’ll wander, hopeless and hollowed, through the sootstained castles, misty forests and miserable, crumbling mineshafts before your quest is through. And you’ll never lose sight of that one, enduring desire Dark Souls I had, the lust to see just what was waiting at the end to pound your miserable ass into powder. And then, with practice and dedication, to bring that fucker down.

If I had to criticize it (and hey, these checks don’t say “videogame fellatio specialist” (though well they might)) I’d say that this time around the plot was a little more indecipherable. Not that I’m opposed to that. The last game had you try to work out what was going on purely by scraps of flavor text and a bunch of serpents, the only animals so deceitful and greedy that nature has cursed them to look like the elongated, scaly dicks that they are. It wasn’t exactly super fucking Mario.

(Super fucking Mario, incidentally is a totally different and superior game to Super Mario. It’d also be the first thing in site history to get 10/9 if it weren’t for the editors stupid rules about it being, “disgusting”, “unnecessary” and “literally a crime to own or distribute.”)

This time it’s even worse, with cards not so much being held against the chest as forced through the sternum, you’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on that aforementioned desire for exploration to get you through much of the game. Usually this would knock off a point or two, but since the opening areas are interesting, and since there are fucking four of them, each begging for your attention, it’s not like you’re going to get bored and just quit. And even if you do, you’ll still keep playing.

A shout-out to Eyl and 180cm, a man so brave I assume his kick-name is a circumference.

A shout-out to Eyl and 180cm, a man so brave I assume his kick-name is in circumference.

All this, of course, is what you’d expect from Dark Souls II. It all falls under that “moreso” bullshit I said above, about shit that FROM’s been doing well for years now. There’s no surprises there. So what’s new? Torches.

Yep. Motherfucking torches. It doesn’t sound like much, but improved lighting mechanics, dark areas and nocturnal enemies that you can drive away with light add a totally new layer of strategy to picking your gear.

Now, addmittely it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I thought about it for a while and I couldn’t think of anything else I could ask for. And I’m not about to punish it for not fucking up a perfect formula.

And, of course, they’re prone to guttering out at the worst moments, surrounded by enemies in dark holes. Two. (See, that was joke – it rhymed with Dark Souls – never mind.)

Anyhow, I urge you to play it. Not because you’ll enjoy it necessarily (though you goddamn will) but because FROM software hasn’t forgotten how to make the most rewarding games in the world. And if you’re one of those lost, wandering souls who’se wondering where the challenge went out from the world, it’s here. Kicking my ass.

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