Dark Souls II (PC) Review

The definitive version of a solid, albeit unremarkable sequel.

The souls games hold a special place in my heart, as I believe they provide a gaming experience unmatched by any other series to have come in the last decade.

With multiple play throughs of both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls under my belt, the announcement of Dark Souls 2 left me positively giddy at the possibilities.

In fact, I had originally planned to wait for the PC release and skip the console versions in an attempt to get the best possible experience on the first play through, but my patience grew thinner with each mention of the title and I picked up the PS3 version a week after its release.

MSRP: $49.99
Platforms: PC, 360, PS3
Multiplayer: Online functionality for messages along with co-op + pvp via summoning and covenants
Demo Availability: N/A
Length: 10-15 hours

If you count yourself in the camp of those who were waiting for the best version of the game, congratulations are in order as the PC port of Dark Souls 2 is clearly the definitive version to play.

However, in the lofty standards of the Souls series, it falls short of expectations due to a myriad of questionable design choices.

Walking into the unknown with my shield raised. Moments of great tension are commonplace in Dark Souls 2.

Before I delve into the title itself, I will say that the game looks and plays beautifully right out of the digital box.

There’s no mandatory mod to download or configuring of “.ini” files required here.

The game can run at extremely high resolutions that go far beyond the standard 1080p and runs at a rock steady 60fps.

It was also optimized well, as I never saw a single noticeable frame drop my entire play through, even after I had summoned multiple players and we were going against a massive boss that filled the entire screen.

My trusty wired 360 controller was recognized without incident, and while I found the mouse cursor that would appear every time I went into a menu to be an annoyance, it’s nothing too serious.

The greatest benefit of the PC port isn’t the sharper graphics or rock steady framerates, as the loading times that would often go on for longer than twenty seconds in the PS3 version were reduced to mere two-three seconds at the longest when the game was installed on my solid state drive.

The benefits of the port goes far beyond just prettier graphics.

While FromSoftware have certainly redeemed themselves after the botched port on Dark Souls, the actual title does not fare quite as well.

There are only a handful of new ideas of any significance present in Dark Souls 2, and even they aren’t executed very well.

The torch as a replacement for a shield is a great idea that could have made exploring pitch black areas into tense, ass sweating scenarios, but the way the lighting is done in Dark Souls 2, almost every area is clearly visible without a light source.

The idea of allowing teleportation between bonfires from the very beginning would have been fine with a greater emphasis on placements and shortcuts and less bonfires to go around, but there are more than ever, closer to each other.

The bosses seemed much less creative this time around, with mostly humanoid type bosses resorting to a cheap “it’s harder if you’re fighting more than one thing at a time!” mentality.

The lore and story took a hit as well, because the similarities between the sequel and its predecessor made it feel like I was treading proven grounds.

Clever girl…

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I still had a great time playing through Dark Souls 2 and would recommend everyone play it whether they are a fan of the series or not, but I felt for every step forward, it took one back.

It’s a testament to the series brand as a whole to make an otherwise solid title feel disappointing, but I’ve come to expect more and I hope they find the right path through the dark in the next sequel.

Fun Tidbit: While there is no need to download a fix this time around, the talented individual who brought dsfix to the world has put out a mod for Dark Souls 2 that allows for even greater graphical fidelity. Check it out, here.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Solid port with expected improvements over the console versions
  • One step forward, one step back
Written by
Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he's too busy playing games to do anything about it.