Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Dark Souls 2: Of Missing Monsters and Bustling Bases

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 1 Apr 2014 16:00
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Dark Souls 2

And virtually every single one of these characters you eventually find dead, or are killed by your hand when they turn Hollow. By the end of the game, you are just about the only Firelink regular still keeping the campfire warm, gloomily telling tales of your adventures to nobody. The jolly Siegmeyer lies dead in a poison pool far below, and noble Solaire has a case of the tunneling brainworms. It added to the deep sense of hopelessness that gave the game its atmosphere. Events are counting down to the end of the world, and that countdown seems to be taking the form of your list of remaining friends.

Meanwhile, Majula in Dark Souls 2 does things the other way around. It starts off fairly abandoned, but acquires merchants and random johnnies as you find them in the real world. By the very end, it's fairly bustling. Things only started feeling lonely when a section I'd repeated too many times started despawning its monsters. I appreciate there's no reason the game should have to pursue the same overtone of loneliness and despair as its predecessor, but once it takes that away, it doesn't really have anything to replace it with. You finish the game, reappear back at Majula for post-ending fuckabouts mode, and it all tapers off with a whimper rather than a bang.

That's the other thing I'm kicking myself for not noticing before reaching the end of the game - that the end of the game isn't very good. It wasn't massively amazing in DS1, either, the bosses all got kind of easy and the ending was a touch anti-climactic (either of them, really). But it seems like DS2 was determined to take that record and beat it, in both the easiness and anti-climax events.

Dark Souls 2

The final boss in particular was almost an insult. It trudged about like a slug on a doorstep and it seemed like none of its melee attacks were able to connect with me as long as I stood right next to it. Its main thing was putting down things that inflicted the Curse effect. Now, in the first game, being Cursed was a really nasty effect you wanted very badly to avoid, but in DS2, all it does is knock a pixel or two off your maximum health. That all you got, bitch? 'Cos I've got 20 Human Effigies left that will give all that health back. What've you got? An easily dodged melee attack and a few magic spells that telegraph like the arrival of the fucking Hindenburg.

And this may be one of those things I need to play the game a few more times to understand, but I felt pretty blindsided by the story by that point. I was laboring under the impression that I had come to the land of Drangleic to clear up my nasty case of Undead, and that the way to do that was to seek the king. But towards the end, there were a few witty conversations with people who seemed to be under the impression that I was there to REPLACE the king and take his throne, for no better reason than because that's what you were ostensibly doing in the previous game (broadly speaking). Wait, what? Did we ever properly talk about this? I'm cool with not taking the throne, I'd just, you know, like to stop looking like someone crafted me from beef jerky and string.

So yeah, those are the updated opinions. Other than that, it's still a perfectly fine and absorbing game that's well worth an investment if you're a fan of the original. Although that fast-ladder-climb does look fucking ridiculous.

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