With the release of any DLC, the first question that comes to mind is almost always of the same nature: is it worth it? It’s a valid question, particularly for those who have already plunked down their cash on the full retail value of a game to begin with.
From Verdite to Boletaria and from Lordran to Drangleic, death and curses have been prevailing themes of the universes created by Japanese developer From Software. From returns to Sony exclusivity with Bloodborne, the spiritual successor to the Souls series; the same series that made it fun to die over and over again.
When my co-editor suggested we do a monthly theme exploring the concept of long-form gaming, and our most treasured journeys therein, it took almost no time for me to seize upon the opportunity to write about not just my favorite game of the previous generation but very likely the most important and influential gaming experience I’ve ever had the pleasure of enduring: From Software’s Dark Souls.
In the brutal gauntlet of boss encounters in Dark Souls, there are an almost daunting amount of epic and memorable battles to consider. From the soul-crushing difficulty of battling four undead kings in the darkness of the void, to the haunting duel with a fallen hero in a blasted coliseum, to the tragic encounter with a giant wolf who is simply guarding his master’s grave, this is a game rife with intense boss moments, but none carry more nerve-racking danger than the encounter with the former heroes of the kingdom, Ornstein and Smough.
Following in the footsteps of its divisive forebears, Dark Souls II is an incredibly challenging and endlessly atmospheric action-RPG. Now, with three expansions under its already sizable belt, Dark Souls II is about the most bang a player can expect for their buck for this gaming year, and even though it lacks the power and punch of the original Dark Souls, it has enough new elements and content to easily justify itself. A brutal and beautiful ride, Dark Souls II is an easy pick for my favorite game of the year.
It’s time to check your backs for the Darksign because with the release of Crown of the Ivory King, From Software has essentially closed the book on Dark Souls II. This final episode in the Lost Crowns DLC takes place amid the snowy vistas of a frozen kingdom, and levies some of the heaviest challenges yet.
It’s pretty well known by now that the mantra of the Souls series is “Prepare to die.” Yet, one finds one’s self continuously shocked at the near-trolling levels of effort that From puts into killing the player via tactics of shock, awe, and fear. It would seem that the most appropriate citation is that of the opening cutscene of Things Betwixt, where the three former Firekeepers just laugh at you before you even begin your journey…almost as if they know what kind of horrific traumas are to come.
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!
Few games in this era have had the cojones to challenge gamers in the manner that the Souls series has dared to, and fewer still have allowed players to have so much freedom to build and define a narrative. Who is your character? You decide. What are his/her goals? That’s up to you. Who will live, and who will die among the supporting characters? The choice is yours.