Reviews by Mrfoxhound

20

Prepare to be Disappointed

Mrfoxhound | July 6, 2014 | Review of Dark Souls II (NA)

I'm a huge fan of the Souls series. I played and beat Dark Souls over 25 times including an SL1 run and a Sorceries only run that I took deep into NG+5. I then played and subsequently loved Demon's Souls. Needless to say, I bought Dark Souls II day one. Wow, what an utter disappointment.

This game is hard. The first game was marketed as hard, but it wasn't really hard. It was challenging. A lot of gamers these days equate challenge with hard, but they are two different things. Dark Souls is challenging. The entire game seems meticulously crafted by Miyazaki down to item placement, bonfires and the fantastic level design. Dark Souls II has none of that and is hard. But it's never a rewarding "Yay! I just beat that boss!" that the first game runs rampant with; instead, it's a cheap hard. This giant boss that is supposed to be like the Sif fight from Dark Souls isn't hard enough on his own, so let's throw in 5 tiny rats that inflict curse and toxic. We already did two bosses with the Maneater's and Belfry Gargoyles, so let's throw in multiple bosses all throughout the game.

That would be fine if the action was upgraded to suit the new action oriented play style, but it's not. It's actually been slowed way, way down and without pumping valuable points into the Adaptability stat to get back to how the character moved in Dark Souls, you'll be very, very slow. Even if your equip burden is within normal range.

Another cheap way they tried to up the difficulty is by making boss arenas very small. So now you are fighting more and more enemies in boss encounters, including adds that some bosses can spawn at will, in a very tiny arena. Some bosses can only take two steps to clear from one side of the arena to the other.

The first time I played Dark Souls was on the 360 and I didn't have an Xbox Live subscription, so I couldn't summon or play online with the game. I still managed to beat that game and get all 1000 achievement points while doing so without the aid of summoning other real life players. That is impossible in Dark Souls II. Not only is summoning a must (either NPC or other players) for bosses, but the increase in enemies in each level from Dark Souls to Dark Souls II is staggering and you may find yourself summoning just to GET to the boss. Of course, unless you just ran right to the boss door (and have 8-15 enemies following you) you can't even stop to summon and you are forced to just go into the boss door.

The other issue with the huge increase in regular enemies is that your weapons degrade much faster than in Dark Souls (sometimes you'll get the message that your weapon is about to break and you'll have no idea why) and the items to repair it are very few and far between. Of course, you can always repair and restock spells by sitting at a bonfire, but then you're not at the boss, so you waste your spells and equipment by fighting the tons of enemies on the way to the boss.

Another thing that was removed was the player's careful use of the Estus Flask because now you get an amalgamation of the healing systems from Demon's Souls and Dark Souls combined. In addition to the Estus Flask (the upgrade system of which is vastly different from the former game), you get healing items that pretty much drop from every enemy guaranteeing that you never need to be less than full health for any length of time. A welcome addition is that spells can now be restored the same way as in Demon's Souls by using items. This is a great addition though, and I liked it in Demon's Souls, because I like being a sorcerer and I hated pumping useless points into STR and DEX because I was required to use a weapon as the spells were mainly just saved for bosses or until you got enough of the spell(s) to use it whenever you wanted.

I went for a glass cannon approach to Dark Souls II. I put on whatever would increase my INT and give me more casts and sacrificed hit points. So, by the end of the game, I was able to spam soul spear as much as I wanted and had the items to replenish my casts when I ran low. Of course, one hit from any boss was enough to kill me.

Overall, Dark Souls II is not a worthy successor to the Souls franchise, and it is not the sequel I had hoped for. Instead it suffers from typical sequel-itis that I had hoped this franchise was immune to, but, sadly, it is not.

I did beat Dark Souls II before writing this review, and the score is reflective of it's score as a Souls game and the disappointment that I had by playing this game. It took me 45 hours to beat it, and never produced a joy moment like tackling O&S provided in the first game. When I finally beat the game, I was just happy to have it over and wasn't actually focused on my satisfaction of actually beating the game. Two of my best moments in gaming were 1.) Beating Dark Souls and 2.) going back and doing it as an SL1. I have no such desire to replay Dark Souls 2 and have already deleted it from my HDD. In fact, the first game I played after beating that one long 45 hour chore called Dark Souls 2 was Dark Souls.