The action role-playing game Dark Souls 2 makes the player a survivalist. On the quest to find himself, the RPG fan fights through hordes of undead demons. Dark Souls 2 gets its ghoulish charm from an unusual difficulty and the knowledge that a deadly trap may be lurking just around the corner – a suspicion that’s often founded.
Dark Souls 2 starts off in a way that’s not all that unusual for an RPG. First, you build the character by putting various character customizations together, once you’ve got the height, build, and hair color set, you then choose a fighter class.
That’s where the similarities with other RPGs end. There’s only a very short tutorial that newcomers to Dark Souls 2 can (maybe) get their questions answered. One false move and you end up dead – if you’re not careful you’ll be devoured after the first few steps.
Instead of the usual experience points, the player earns experience by killing monsters for their souls. With souls you can level up or exchange them for medicinal herbs, pieces of armor, or weapons.
There is one major snag with the souls: if a villain kills you, the souls are lost. Trying to get away is useless too. You die on the way, and the souls are still lost forever. The fact that most of the enemies you’ve already defeated are alive again, makes this considerably more difficult.
There is one thing that’s easy about DDark Souls 2 – it is exceptionally easy to die. One false step, an overlooked monster in a dark corner or the brute force of an all-powerful Boss depletes your life force in a split second. This is not only annoying, but also has consequences. After each death, the character loses some of its humanity. Meat falls from the bone until eventually only a skeleton remains.
Parallel to this decline, the maximum life force is gradually reduced from death to death by half. Death is relative in Dark Souls 2 though: With special potions you can get your life force back. These potions can be found in the game or can be bought from merchants.
Campfires are both spawn and transport in the world of Dark Souls 2 They can be found scattered across the level. Once activated, you can relax or travel to another campfire. Simple equipment is repaired at the campfire, but most enemies also return.
The gameplay expresses the struggle for survival in Dark Souls 2. Armed with one or two handed weapons, bow or wand, your aim is to defeat your enemies. Daring fighters can even wield a sword with both hands. Although with one hand free, you can at least crouch behind a shield. A considerable influence on the battle gameplay is making the choice between weapon and armor.
Whether you opt for magic, bows, or swords held in both hands, you’ll want light clothing. It requires less power and allows for lightning fast dodges. By rolling, you can duck away from the blows of the enemy. If you attack them from the back, you can cause considerable damage.
The graphics are just as dark as the shadowy story of Dark Souls 2. In caves and dungeons, there are only the most meager drops of light. Although if you shine the torch, you can brighten dark areas – a significant difference to its predecessors Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. However, anyone who picks up the torch, can no longer equip their protective shield.
Another excellent element in Dark Souls 2 is how events are viewed from the shoulder camera above the character. Revolving the camera can make even the most distant objects shimmer. So you can plan the route on which you need to travel back.
The combat animations are also very good. They correspond in their fluidity to their Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls predecessors. Connoisseurs of these games will find their way immediately. On the downside, the normal motion animations, such as when walking or climbing stairs, are far from convincing. They act as an unchanged legacy from the five-year- old Demon’s Souls. The graphics details, lighting and particle effects are not quite at the level of what is technically feasible.
Dark Souls 2 is defined by its sound effects. Music stays in the background, which only serves to deepen the creepy mood.