By Ryan Noik 10 April 2014

Death is a great adventure
8.5    Gameplay
8.0    Story
8.5    Presentation
9.3    Lasting appeal

Dark Souls 2 is not a regular RPG; rather, it’s a game which challenges you every step of the way, and therein lies its allure.

The first time I died was for a silly reason – I misjudged my proximity to the edge of the cliff and took a gruesome plunge down. The next time, it was my curiosity that got me killed – I got a little too close to some vicious snarling thing in a cage, only to find out too late that its razer sharp claws could eviscerate me through the bars after all.

Like its predecessors, Demon Souls and Dark Souls, From Software’s Dark Souls 2 is that rare breed of game that gives no quarter and grants no mercy.

It was only after meeting Dwayne Johnson's bigger brother that Sir John understood why The Rock's family kept calling him 'Tiny.'

Prepare to die

While some may cogently argue that the Dark Souls 2 punishing dynamics have been built for masochists, to our mind, it is actually the ideal game for die-hard optimists; those who find the game’s allure in the conviction that this time, they will learn from their mistakes; this time they will survive longer. Helping matters is that the world is beautifully realized, particularly thanks to the hauntingly good score.

From the outset, Dark Souls 2 show exactly how forbidding and unforgiving this world is. You start off undead, and meet three crones (the Fates perhaps?) who share a private joke at your expense, while warning you against “going hollow” by losing all your Souls. It is Souls that are the all important currency in this world; sorely needed in order to upgrade your skills. The rub is, that each time you die you lose the Souls you have collected, and some of your overall health as well  – and with the only consolation being that these can be retrieved by finding and touching your bloodstain. Here are our tips to increase your chances of survival.

Sir John's new fencing class later that evening turned out to be a lot more hardcore than he anticipated, made even more stressful by the fact that those who failed the class became targeting fodder for the next student. 

1. Watch your step

It’s not just the fantastic denizens of Drangleic that have it in for you. The landscape is as littered with traps as it is secrets, and the passes are easier to fall off than you may think. Thus, watch your step; and at least your first death will be something more entertaining and less embarrassing than simply finding out gravity kills.    

2. Take it slow

In many role playing games, you kit yourself out and then boldly strike out into the wilderness to fulfill your quests. In Dark Souls 2, such an approach will see you perish faster than you can finish saying “WT…”Rather, advance cautiously; if you see a boss enemy ahead, back away, at least in the first few hours and come back at a later stage when you have leveled up a bit. Similarly, do take the time to explore the world, patient searching can and does result in finding precious Lifestones and Divine Blessings.

Capping off a gruelling day, it turned out the innkeeper's warning about feeding the mutant pigeons had merit after all. 

3. Underestimate nothing

Everything in Dark Souls 2 can, and will, if given half a chance, try to kill you, and in this case, our best advice would be to treat every denizen you come across with that top of mind. Along with this, we suggest you smash every crate/barrels you can find – it’s pretty much the only thing in Drangleic that can’t fight back and will boost your morale. Besides, the barrels had it coming.

For a tantalizingly unique gaming experience, we recommend it unhesitatingly. RRP: R700

Challenging and rewarding, Amps up the suspense, Filled with secrets
Console graphics ok, but not brilliant, Difficulty level can become frustrating

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