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By 10 April 2014 | Categories: news

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Pippa’s expectations of Dark Souls II might just prevent her from ever playing it. Or not.

I love RPGs. They’re my favourite kind of video game for a number of different reasons. One of which is the narrative and potential for character development – both in a story capacity as well as from a gameplay point of view, and another is the number of hours you invest in gameplay. I rarely come away from an RPG thinking, wow that was too short – which sadly is too often the case with other games that too many times clock in at a five, six hour campaign. A good RPG will give you a minimum of forty to sixty hours of gameplay excluding side quests and DLC, which is more than we can say for many games.

This is not to say I love ALL RPGs however, but if I’m feeling ambivalent I’m more open and willing to give them a chance. Interestingly, Dark Souls II, which at the time of writing has just been delivered to my desk, is sitting there taunting me while I have to get on with actual work before I can open it.

In order for you to gain a better understanding of my relationship with this franchise, let me take a step back to Dark Souls, released in 2011. This game frustrated me no end, and is probably one of the few RPGs that I hesitate to say I never finished. It was just too f***ing hard. Yes, yes, I know it received a huge amount of praise because of that – and deservedly so, I don’t dispute this. It was still strangely addictive no matter that the difficulty curve was insanely steep and that I spent I don’t know how long on the first boss fight. I even got a substantial amount of the way in before I eventually got stuck (shame on me, I know) and moved on to something else. But damn, Dark Souls caused me mountains of frustration.

The thing is, it was beautiful and haunting, with a great combat system and a complex skills tree, and it forced one to consider and strategise at every turn. Perhaps this is why it frustrated me even more. I actually loved this game and we had a complicated relationship. Yes, we had our problems, but until such time as the relationship broke down irretrievably by the stubbornness of that one particular enemy, we actually got along very well. It was challenging, but the highs were high even when the lows were low.

And so, there lies Dark Souls II, taunting me, tempting me. And I’m just a little afraid. I’m afraid that this will be a repeat of the previous game, and at the same time I’m afraid that it might not. Does that even make sense? Will Dark Souls II suck me in as did its predecessor, and will I ultimately get frustrated and stuck and move on without finishing it? The thought of either is almost enough to stop me playing it altogether.

Almost. I’m busy undoing the wrapping.

Photo courtesy of Tim Hulme.

Makeup artist: Natasha Carstens.

Article first appeared in TechSmart 127.

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