Dark Souls brought back that idea that it was cool for mainstream games to be unspeakably hard, that grinding in an RPG to use souls and get stronger just might crush your own soul. The sequel is almost upon us, but embargo has lifted and reviews are emerging from the darkness – are you ready?
- IGN: 9.0 – Dark Souls II is a smart, massive, and incredibly rewarding sequel. It’s crammed with deep systems, tense encounters, and enough clever multiplayer and New Game Plus elements to make me want to restart the second I saw the end credits. Not all of the tweaks and additions worked out for the best, but with such great enemies and levels to fight and explore, Dark Souls II made 60 hours of pain and agony so much fun they flew by in a heartbeat.
- Kotaku: Yes – A stellar, challenging experience that borrows from its predecessors while making significant and complicated design changes.
- Destructoid: 9 – Superb: A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won’t cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.
- Game Informer: 9.75 – When many think of the Souls games the conversation inevitably turns to discussion of difficulty. The baseline difficulty is on par with its predecessor, but there are new ways to bolster the challenge for the hardcore via a covenant and bonfire items. New Game+ modes are available as well. However, focusing strictly on the challenge takes away from much of the brilliance that comes from creating a dark, atmospheric adventure that assumes that players don’t need their hands held throughout the experience. Dark Souls II respects you enough to assume you can figure things out, despite having perhaps lost some of these sensibilities by playing other titles that walk you through on tether from start to finish. As a result, the rewards and achievements are that much more satisfying. It’s only March, but Dark Souls II stands tall as a potential game of the year.
- The Escapist: 4.5/5 – Everything that made Dark Souls into a cult success carries over: complex game mechanics, punishing but fair gameplay and a richly detailed setting if you dig a little deeper. To keep things fresh, this is peppered with a mix of new elements, from improved graphics and game engine to a better designed starting sequence and new mechanics. Dark Souls II is a perfect sequel to Dark Souls.
- OXM: 8.0 – A true sequel, Dark Souls II has some new ideas, but hews closely to its predecessor’s template. Game mechanics are improved in nearly every way, but it struggles to separate teasingly vague from painfully obtuse.
- Polygon: 9.0 – Dark Souls 2’s brilliance is worth the exhaustion. But you know what? I did survive, and damn it, I’m proud of that. The Souls games have rarely been about fun, but Dark Souls 2’s smart tweaks and concessions brought out positive emotions even amidst the pain and exhaustion. It’s still a stressful experience, but it’s easier than ever to recognize the brilliance in those moments of triumph that make it more than worth the struggle.
Wow! So, universally high review scores for Dark Souls II. As if I weren’t already itching to get back into that dark, horrifying world. I’m a bit worried about IGN saying they managed to finish it in 60 hours, but I’m going to assume they didn’t hit all the side areas and probably treated it like something of a speed run. In any event, our review will be up as soon as we can stop rocking ourselves and crying into the night.
Last Updated: March 11, 2014