Dark Souls 2: Scholars of the First Sin
PS4/XBOX One (and everything else technically)
I spent the last few weeks playing Resident Evil, PT, Alien Isolation and White Night which are a collection of some very tense, spine tingling, self lobotomy inspiringly terrifying games. So after I had successfully come out from behind my sofa, since I was being burned quite badly with my face being pressed up against the radiator, I approached my Playstation once again. For those of you who have been following my reviews – hi mum – you will know that I ended up playing Bloodborne, a reason to buy a PS4 if there ever was one. So that, along with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin I have entered into a world of not scary games, though absolutely sometimes, games that are offensively gratuitously and frustratingly difficult.
Dark Souls 2 has received an update for the older generation consoles and Direct X9 PCs and has been given a game of the year-esque release for the new generation and Direct X11 with the update built in. I never played the original which is going to make this review less than what it should be. From what I can gather, Bandai have done the equivalent of blindfolding you in your kitchen, moving your furniture about and then putting a knight the size of a bloody hospital in your chest freezer where there wasn’t one before and giving you some fusilli to protect yourself with.
As my only frame of reference I shall compare it mainly to Bloodborne, the game is, in the beginning at least, much easier. My first death was entirely my own stupidity, as I essentially won a fight and turned around and walked off the edge of a cliff. I was slightly unnervingly greeted with a trophy as soon as I died.
“THIS IS DARK SOULS”
It really is. It took me a while to realise I’d accidentally signed up to a ‘Covenant’ which gives you better rewards from killing things and the like but also makes the game harder. At one point I came face to face with a Knight with arms like tree trunks and and a hammer the size of a taxi. The world seems so well developed, and has a feeling that is very like Skyrim for tone, in that it feels like it could really exist. Everything works very well, the shields and levelling up system make it easier to get a bit of a grasp on the harder enemies, but by no means ever makes them easier. The beauty and intricacies of the world run the risk of passing me by because I was getting my ass kicked so hard. Unlike Bloodborne, which feels like a puzzle game of reflexes and timing, Dark Souls 2 sometimes feels more unfair, until you realise that everything that has happened to you is your fault.
The downside of the game is what you would expect, some people are not going to enjoy this, this game is not designed to hammer out a few hours of stress at the end of the day. If you are developing a new drug to reverse the effects of a stroke at short notice then playing this will be a good catalyst of induction. The controls are massively clunky and slow compared to Bloodborne, and this will be obvious to those who have never played Dark Souls 2 before, however to those who have, I asked all my friends, it is fluid and silk-like compared to what it was, but it may take some getting used to those converted by Bloodborne.
A fantastic game that is in the running for the Broken-Joystick award, but has been fantastically timed to grab the overspill from the Bloodborne market and isn’t just a simple cash-in remaster like you might think, it has a lot to offer fans of the original as well as anyone coming to the series fresh (like me).
4 out of 5 Nerds