The action role-playing game Dark Souls 2 makes the player a survivalist. On the quest to find himself, the RPG fan fights through hordes of undead demons. Dark Souls 2 gets its ghoulish charm from an unusual difficulty and the knowledge that a deadly trap may be lurking just around the corner - a suspicion that's often founded.
The test is based on the console version for the Playstation 3. The PC version will be released on 25 April 2014.
Not your average roleplaying
Dark Souls 2 starts off in a way that's not all that unusual for an RPG. First, you build the character by putting various character customizations together, once you've got the height, build, and hair color set, you then choose a fighter class.
That's where the similarities with other RPGs end. There's only a very short tutorial that newcomers to Dark Souls 2 can (maybe) get their questions answered. One false move and you end up dead - if you're not careful you'll be devoured after the first few steps.
Instead of the usual experience points, the player earns experience by killing monsters for their souls. With souls you can level up or exchange them for medicinal herbs, pieces of armor, or weapons.
There is one major snag with the souls: if a villain kills you, the souls are lost. Trying to get away is useless too. You die on the way, and the souls are still lost forever. The fact that most of the enemies you've already defeated are alive again, makes this considerably more difficult.
Death with consequences
There is one thing that's easy about Dark Souls 2 - it is exceptionally easy to die. One false step, an overlooked monster in a dark corner or the brute force of an all-powerful Boss depletes your life force in a split second. This is not only annoying, but also has consequences. After each death, the character loses some of its humanity. Meat falls from the bone until eventually only a skeleton remains.
Parallel to this decline, the maximum life force is gradually reduced from death to death by half. Death is relative in Dark Souls 2 though: With special potions you can get your life force back. These potions can be found in the game or can be bought from merchants .
Quick trip by campfire
Campfires are both spawn and transport in the world of Dark Souls 2 They can be found scattered across the level. Once activated, you can relax or travel to another campfire. Simple equipment is repaired at the campfire, but most enemies also return.
Dodge, dodge, and dodge again!
The gameplay expresses the struggle for survival in Dark Souls 2. Armed with one or two handed weapons, bow or wand, your aim is to defeat your enemies. Daring fighters can even wield a sword with both hands. Although with one hand free, you can at least crouch behind a shield. A considerable influence on the battle gameplay is making the choice between weapon and armor.
Whether you opt for magic, bows, or swords held in both hands, you'll want light clothing. It requires less power and allows for lightning fast dodges. By rolling, you can duck away from the blows of the enemy. If you attack them from the back, you can cause considerable damage.
Another strategy is following becoming an armored warrior. They need to improve their armor and shield so that they can take as many hits as possible.
You can block attacks with a shield and running counter attacks. Ranged DPS (damage per second) fighters should always have a second weapon set ready, because even large enemies can prove to be extremely agile and quickly shorten the distance to the player. In such a situation, only the quick draw of your sword, dagger, or ax helps.
Spirits and intruders
Players can leave markings on the floor, which other players see in their worlds. Sometimes, though, these are warnings or misleading indications. In addition, players can bring companions into their world and master difficult sections with a cooperative team. As with Demon's Souls and Dark Souls there's the possibility for players to invade the worlds of other players and challenge them to a duel.
Tingling atmosphere despite slightly elderly graphics
The graphics are just as dark as the shadowy story of Dark Souls 2. In caves and dungeons, there are only the most meager drops of light. Although if you shine the torch, you can brighten dark areas - a significant difference to its predecessors Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. However, anyone who picks up the torch, can no longer equip their protective shield.
Another excellent element in Dark Souls 2 is how events are viewed from the shoulder camera above the character. Revolving the camera can make even the most distant objects shimmer. So you can plan the route on which you need to travel back.
Great fighting action, ponderous movements
The combat animations are also very good. They correspond in their fluidity to their Dark Souls and Demon's Souls predecessors. Connoisseurs of these games will find their way immediately. On the downside, the normal motion animations, such as when walking or climbing stairs, are far from convincing. They act as an unchanged legacy from the five-year- old Demon's Souls. The graphics details, lighting and particle effects are not quite at the level of what is technically feasible.
Dark Souls 2 is defined by its sound effects. Music stays in the background, which only serves to deepen the creepy mood.
Conclusion: Thrilling action-RPG for experts with nerves of steel
Dark Souls 2 is not for pampered players! If you're the type of player who needs to be gently eased into a game and quickly praised, then this is not the game for you. Dark Souls 2 unceremoniously dumps the player into the deep end of a freezing cold pool.
Weak, ill-equipped, and inexperienced and (especially) young adventurers will be taught a deadly lesson. When things don't quite go according to plan for the character, you can almost hear the evil laugh of the developer in the background.
And that's exactly what fans of Demons Souls and Dark Souls love: it's the joy of frustration. There's a lot of fun to be had with the consequences of their own mistakes. The constant danger, losing souls, and progress, simply deepens the connection to your character and contributes to the scary-intense game atmosphere.
And then it happens again. One wrong step and it's all over. And that's exactly what makes it fun.