Review: Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin Edition

Release date: 2015
Version played: Xbox One in 2015

The Scholar of the First Sin Edition of Dark Souls 2 is a sort of updated, re-released version of the base game, originally released for the previous generation consoles in 2014. The Scholar of the First Sin Edition boasts better graphics (1080p and 60fps) and features altered enemy locations, and some entirely new enemies, as well as all three ‘Crown’ downloadable content packages.

I never played the ‘original’ release of Dark Souls 2, as I knew this was coming out, so I cannot comment on what, specifically, has changed from the previous-gen release.

+ the game looks absolutely gorgeous, and runs incredibly smoothly, even with lots of things happening on screen
+ animations and world interaction is also clear and precise, a major step up from the rather clunky original game
+ whether it is because the game is still relatively new, or because I didn’t know my way around like I did by the end of Dark Souls 1, the (improved) messaging system was very helpful
+ the environments themselves are varied and each present their own challenges, although sometimes ‘challenge’ is just gamer speak for ‘unavoidable pits of poison’
+ the three DLC areas included in the SOTFS Edition are far and away the best parts of the environment, and the three could be worth the price of the game more so than the base areas

– rather than a set of difficult enemies that had to be studied and then worked on exploiting their weaknesses, as in the first game, the difficulty in this sequel seems to come entirely from being overwhelmed, where the only strategy is to just ‘hit it until it dies’
– many of the bosses are simply stronger and sometimes bigger versions of enemies around them, and  similarly, many of the bosses are just variants of ‘big guy in armour’
– the jumping mechanic (that is, sprinting, then pressing the same button to jump) is still clunky and imprecise, and often leads to very, very frustrating deaths, made worse by a few area that require precise jumps
– the lore is very, very hit and miss, and the stuff that hits is mostly just a rehash of the first game’s back story
– the enemy detection- and hit-boxes are seemingly quite random. Much more often than the first game, enemies can stab the air a few meters from you, but you get locked into the attack animation anyway

> rather than choosing from a few stock phrases for messages, DS2 allowed for much more context in the words (including the phrases ‘but’ and ‘hole’, so I can assume you’ll all know what I was very often told to be wary of, or what lay ahead)

Should you play this game: It seems strange to say a game I have just spend dozens of hours on is not worth playing. The game is competently made, but it is far too much of a cash in on the formula that made Dark Souls so endearing, and doesn’t endeavour to create a ‘life’ of its own; it seems to solely be banking on the people that played the first game will play this. If you loved the first game, you will get more of the same here, but not necessarily more of the parts you want.


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