Dark Souls II
Genre: Action role-playing
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One
Release: March 11, 2014
Immortality is the oldest of human fascinations. It appears in many guises, from vampire folklore to religious promises. Sometimes it elevates men, and sometimes it defiles them.
The Undead of Dark Souls bear a cursed mark known as the Darksign. They begin with human intelligence, and they’re reborn at mystical bonfires when they die, granting them an indefinite lifespan. But they decay each time, eventually becoming mindless, predatory Hollows. Your character in Dark Souls II begins partially Hollow, entering the ruined kingdom of Drangelic in search of a cure. You face hordes of former peasants and soldiers, consumed by the same curse. But perhaps your condition is fortunate, because few people could beat Dark Souls II without dying many times.
Veterans of the Souls series will often say it respects you more than other games. “It’s not hard, it’s fair,” a fan once told me. Many RPGs begin with severe challenges, growing rapidly easier as you level up and find better loot. Dark Souls II remains difficult for the entire journey. You can and will gain enough firepower to one-shot many enemies, but even with heavy armor, you can take extreme damage from a handful of blows. Some shields don’t completely neutralize physical damage, and you lose stamina for each block, roll, or swing, leaving you staggered and helpless if you overextend yourself. Combat is as much about reading your opponent’s moves and posture as sheer brute force. If you aren’t careful, the weakest peasants will stunlock you to death.