Dark Souls II - Critique
Playing Dark Souls II is like playing baseball with a good old comfortable and worn down glove, only the rules of the game have been slightly changed. Anyone who worried that this sequel would lower the level of difficulty, in order to reach a wider audience, can rest easy: Dark Souls II is just as trying, demanding and ultimately rewarding as its 2011 predecessor. not always fly but enough to make it an exceptional game and an irresistible challenge, whether you are a solitary explorer or you prefer to help or torment others in multiplayer mode.
As a player who won the two end game trophies "To Link the Fire" and "Dark Lord" of Dark Souls first of its name, I admit without shame that Dark Souls II made me drool hundreds of times during this monumental 60 hour journey. But as in the original, no death was ever in vain. Each failure taught me a little more about how Dark Souls II works, which allowed me to improve. Whether it was exploiting the enemy's characteristic movements, or spotting the indications of a trapped place, this great difficulty almost never seemed insurmountable to me.
I say "almost" because the developers of From Software have gone a little too far by adding a penalty that lowers your maximum health level each time your avatar dies. This can be counterbalanced by using a Human Effigy, but these items are extremely rare in the first part of the game. Although this is a hardcore feature of the game, I found this frustrating, as it affected a bit of my desire to explore this world, for fear of being too severely penalized if I fail. It is true that this system is similar to that of Demon's Souls, but I appreciated much more the way the original Dark exploited it.
The world of Drangelic is huge and populated by a wide variety of natives. You will travel from dilapidated coastal kingdoms, into poisonous swamps, until it is akin to the very bowels of Hell. Although the places to visit and where to fight are very varied, the world of Dark Souls II lacks a certain cohesion present in the original. In 2011, Lordran's representation seemed geographically sound; despite the fantastic scenes, the whole seemed to agree naturally. In this case, the variety and the ability to travel great distances in the blink of an eye make Dark Souls II a vast collection of levels, rather than a unique world with a natural look.
Despite this divergence, this world really flatters the eye. The updated Dark Souls II engine enhances the role of light in the exploration part. The game is wonderful when you walk outside in a naturally lit area, with a torch in hand. Not only does the fire we carry illuminate the dark corners, but certain enemies will tremble with fear in front of this light. This option certainly has an interesting visual impact, but strangely, the torch poses the player before a dilemma: is it better to play carefully and carry a shield or risk death by living a more interesting visual experience with the torch?
These difficult choices in no way detract from the pleasure of playing Dark Souls II. This title builds on the challenge, scale and mystery of the original game in multiple ways. Already very beautiful on 360 and PS3, it becomes particularly beautiful on PC. The improved textures, lighting, as well as some minor environmental effects, like the wind blowing on the grass, make it one of the most visually striking games I've played.
The role of Oaths is also extended and well taken advantage of in multiplayer mode. For example, the Oath of the King Rat gives me control of an ancient tomb, as well as places to place pools of poison, enemy rats, and other vicious traps, which the next player will have to face (without Oath King Rat) who will pass by there. Think of Tecmo's Deception, and you will have a good idea of the dynamics implemented by From Software. This is an extremely satisfying way to let the genius of evil that is in me express itself.
The battles are however similar to the original: the emphasis is strongly on patience, knowledge of enemies, and the ability to parry or avoid in a fraction of a second. Slight changes have taken place: the magic this time seems slightly less powerful, and the time required to parry seems a little tighter, but fighting through this world is a highly satisfying experience. Each encounter is a little puzzle in itself, and the enemies of Dark Souls II are among the most powerful ever designed by From Software. Mummified knights capable of protecting themselves and warding off pose an arduous challenge from the first hours of the game. Massive armored turtles approach you with a heavy and threatening step, forcing you to use agility to counter their strength brute. Finally, giant trolls overlapped by smaller creatures need to keep their distance and strike quickly with precision. There are many diverse challenges.
Charismatic bosses make you spend painful, heartbreaking and memorable moments, which ultimately lead to triumph. These don't really have the same impact as in the original Dark Souls, but to be honest, I think it's because I was prepared for the challenge I was going to face in front of them. Some certainly stand out: the Mirror Knight, for example, offers an incredibly tough battle located on a magnificent tower, which can be used in multiplayer and New Game Plus. I leave you with the surprise of these fantastic moments.