PS3, Xbox 360, PC
From the very first trepidatious steps of the new Dark Souls II DLC, the notoriously tough series once again reminds players where they are, and what they can expect from such a terrible place. Crown of the Sunken King, the first of three planned expansions to be released this summer, begins in an area filled with gaping chasms, a dozen different paths, and a waiting cavalry of brutally clustered enemies (many of which are playing dead). Talk about a welcome mat!
Of course, any Souls afficionado would balk with mock surprise that the expansion begins under such circumstances, after all, the last time a DLC was released in the series (the lore-heavy Artorias of the Abyss) it actually had the blinding gall to begin with a boss fight. While Crown of the Sunken King doesn’t quite troll the player that hard with the traditional “Prepare to Die” motif, it does offer a very heavy challenge, if only in a different manner.
Surprisingly, the toughest part about this latest addition to From Software’s dark, little, medieval family is how hard it is to navigate. Made up of an underground maze of labyrinthine caves, crumbling temples, and desolate cliffs, Crown of the Sunken King is the kind of game where you can get killed after an hour of play and have a hard time even retracing your steps, let alone surviving long enough, to retrieve your remains.
Aside from the new campaign (which clocks at about 5-12 hours depending on skill and thoroughness), the latest patch that comes with the official install also includes new weapons, armor, spells, and even a few tweaks to equalize the existing artillery. Of the three boss fights, one is a nostalgic throwback which is reminiscent of the series’ PVP elements, another is a magic heavy battle with a sorceress type (much like Nashandra in the DSII finale) while the ending set-piece features a massive enemy that is teased throughout the DLC.
Brimming with creepy atmosphere, filled with torturous enemies, and designed with a Lovecraftian maze in mind, Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King sets the new trilogy in swing with a dose of terror, and a dash of nostalgia.