Dark Souls 2 is going to enrage you and satisfy you in ways that no other game can. Come March 11, 2014, plenty of gamers who enjoy the self-abuse this series brings will step into the punishing world of a new sequel. Now that the reviews are out, it’s time to answer this all important question – is Dark Souls good, bad or just meh? Here are the top five reviews you need to read and see.
IGN – 9/10
IGN loved Dark Souls 2’s rewarding sense of challenge, combat and haunting enemy design. The weren’t big fans of the game’s annoying death penalties, though:
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.
GameSpot – 9/10
GameSpot’s review awarded the game it’s high score due to its great sense of discovery, numerous tweaks to longtime series mechanics and cool online features. They admitted that the flat lightning did make some of the game’s area appear washed out, though:
Dark Souls II is loaded with secrets and surprises, and even though I have finished the game once, there are so many elements I am still uncovering. I may not have yet unveiled all there is to know about this beastly game, even after 80 hours of play, but I do know this: I will be adventuring through Drangleic for many months to come, sure to be haunted nightly by the disturbing gazes of the faceless titans that tenderize my flesh with their two-ton hammers.
GamesRadar – 4.5/5
GamesRadar loved the game’s overcoming difficulty, varied zones and new mechanics. Their only problem lied the game’s somewhat uninspired boss designs:
That’s really what Dark Souls 2 is about–it takes everything that made the original so great, but expands on them in its own unique ways. Sure, not every single boss fight will impress, and you might be resistant to the world’s hub-like structure, but these are minor notes in an otherwise phenomenal journey. Dark Souls 2 is an incredible game, one that demands alert play and rewards perseverance. You will die many times in many ways, but push on and you’ll find this to be an excellent sequel that not only captures the essence of the original, but is a memorable experience in its own right.
Polygon – 9/10
Polygon noted that the game was way harder than past installments in the series, which is a feat unto itself. But, the reviewer was fine with that aspect of the game since it made the discovery of new areas and boss battle victories all the more satisfying:
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.
Game Informer – 9.75/10
Game Informer applauded the game’s tough difficulty and extra content that’s apparent after you finish the game. The newer mechanics (for instance, enemies no longer re-spawning after numerous kills) presnted some newfound problems for them:
One significant change in Dark Souls II is that foes no longer respawn after being killed many times. Players can no longer grind souls forever in basic zones, but it allows them to plod forward into a difficult area a dozen times picking off difficult spawns in order to make the trek easier. This happened once to me, as my build was incredibly vulnerable to enemies in that area. While this won’t make bosses any easier, it can be used as a time-consuming, inefficient way to move through a particularly challenging area.
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.