Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Console Slayer 6/10/2014

   Today I thought I'd share and talk about a game I've had a lot experience with lately: Dark Souls II. There's no goal with this other than to make people aware of the game, if you're so inclined or looking for a new game to play. I'm new to the 'Souls' franchise. I had watched a lot of gameplay of the previous game 'Dark Souls' and a little of its predecessor 'Demon Souls'. I had heard and read that DS2 is the most accessible of all three so it's best game to jump into the franchise with. So I gave it a try.

   For the uninitiated, the 'Souls' franchise is an action RPG game series developed by From Software with an emphasis on steep difficulty, or brutality as some might say. Much of it is learning patterns and memorization, not just for defeating bosses but even regular enemies. It has a fairly vast open world and exploration is often rewarded but also punished in some ways. (You may find this statement humorous if you're familiar with the series.) It doesn't have a storyline in the familiar sense as it gives little in the way of story. One must uncover lore/story by talking to NPCs, items descriptions/appearances and geographic hints in the world. If you play this you will die, A LOT, so if you don't have patience, this isn't the game for you.

   The areas of the world are varied and interesting, as are the bosses. (There is even a hidden boss.) The game does feature online play. It features PvP (player vs player) and co-operative gameplay but not in the traditional sense. In order to play together players must meet a few requirements (these requirements are lifted after reaching a certain level) and leave their 'sign' somewhere in the world so they can be summoned by other players. Typically the point is to make it through an area in the world to the area boss and/or fight the area boss. Successfully defeating the area boss nets the helper a reward. Time playing cooperatively is limited too and the helper automatically leaves after a certain amount of time (I believe 40 minutes) or after the area boss is killed.

The PvP comes into play often in very inconvenient and annoying times. In certain areas in the world you can be invaded by other players as phantoms. You must kill the invader or lose your souls (the games currency/upgrade requirement) if you die from the environment or the invader. If you defeat ('banish') the invader you are rewarded but so is the invader if he/she kills you, albeit in a different way. It sounds cheap and/or annoying and it is some times but it does offer a change-up in gameplay and keeps things interesting. You can also leave message in the world for others to see. What can be written in messages is limited to a set of words, phrases and terms. It makes leaving clever and/or funny messages challenging. Reading humorous messages adds some levity to a game that takes itself and its lore seriously. Reading messages has become a past-time of mine in the game. Their are covenants in the game. To borrow from the fextralife wiki:
“Covenants provide the player with multiple new ways to interact with their world and other players. Some offer assistance and protection from invaders, others bring new goals such as defending areas, and some demand the blood of other players.” These add replayability to the game even when you have beat the game. (The game does feature New Game Plus.) There are tons of items, equipment and really cool weapons and spells to dig your teeth into and keep you interested. This has been a game I have put many hours into. It is frustrating and brutal at times but it is fair (for the most part). Being so difficult, challenging and brutal makes the satisfaction of success that much better. If I describe this game using analogies, it's kind of like a Zelda or Metroid game in terms of exploration, RPG elements and the way the “story” is kept vague combined with a Monster Hunter-like approach to action. So if you're looking for a new game to get into and one you can put a lot of time into, this is a lot of bang for your buck, as long as you don't mind a very steep learning curve. If you meet those criteria, I'd recommend giving it a go. It's a lot of fun and addicting. Also, there's an invincible talking cat NPC, so there's that too. Rather than leaving you with a single tune today, I've opted for the playlist to the soundtrack of the game as I couldn't choose my favorite. It's a fantastic soundtrack. Some of my favorites are 'Ancient Dragon', 'Executioner's Chariot' and 'Pursuer'.

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