Dark Souls II – review

Dark Souls 2

What's the story?

A cursed soul, lost in limbo. An ancient, ruined kingdom. Foul malevolence amassed against you, with annihilation all but certain. Like its forebear, Dark Souls II keeps the story details vague, leaving it to the player to explore the new realm of Drangleic and uncover its lore themselves – while frequently dying, of course.

GameplayContinuing as a third-person action RPG, changes from the first game are subtle. Combat is almost untouched, attacks are still mapped to shoulder buttons, so it's out of battle you'll notice adjustments. Bonfires – brief areas of respite – now allow teleportation between them, making traversing the dark yet beautiful world a shade easier, while accessories allow for greater customisation of skills.

Highs and Lows

The crushing difficulty of DarkSouls II is both blessing and curse, and central to the series' appeal. Returning players will relish pitting their skills against hordes of new and terrifyingly grotesque monsters, while newcomers looking for more challenging fare will be well met. Conversely, those qualities, and somewhat unclear mechanics, will be a turn-off for the unprepared.

Verdict

"You will lose everything" warns Dark Souls II in its opening scene. What it omits is that you won't care. Indeed, you'll gladly sacrifice at the altar of this addictive gothic adventure. Beyond the endless deaths, there is always a hunger to explore further, and a thrilling sense that next time you can do better. A unique, if demanding, title.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Matt Kamen, for The Observer on Tuesday 11th March 2014 08.00 Europe/London

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