With Dark Souls III just over a week away from release over here, I was hit with a sort of anxiety that only the most neurotic members of the gaming community can understand.
“But I didn’t finish Dark Souls II!” I said aloud to no one in particular. Even though the narrative of the series is a fluid and rather disjointed thing, the completionist in me couldn’t shake the urge I had to at least revisit my 30 hour save and attempt to see it through till the end.
I barely lasted an hour.
While I can vividly recall characters and moments from the first game, nothing about Dark Souls II ever truly stuck with me. Even getting over the hump of trying to remember where I was going, I continued to feel disconnected from it all. That’s the best word to describe it, I think – disconnected. It’s not a bad game in the least, but it’s such a hollow (no pun intended) experience that never seems to break out of the shadow of its predecessor. I felt disconnected from the story; the aimless quest I was destined to go on, even the striking environments that initially impressed but never amount to anything beyond long corridors and often made no geographical sense. I was disconnected from the boss fights. In the first game, I cared about fighting Sif and Artorias, even random mooks like the Capra Demon, but Dark Souls II dilutes the concept with far too many of them, many in groups and too similar to one another. Outside of the Pursuer and the Old Dragonslayer, I’m at a loss to name any of the other encounters without consulting a wiki.
It’s easy to say these problems stemmed from the absence of Hidetaka Miyazaki as the director, and that may be true. We’ll never know what Dark Souls II would have been if he’d been more hands-on, but I do know that, in its current form, it’s not a game I have the time for. Perhaps one weekend I’ll disconnect from the server and fire up Cheat Engine just to get through the thing, but I doubt seeing it through to the end will do much to change my perspective.
At the risk of simply repeating all of the points made in the video below, I’ll simply prompt you to watch it yourself. It’s a pretty thorough critique of exactly how the composition of design elements from the first game failed to be as effective in the sequel and offers more detail in just how “disconnected” Dark Souls II is as a whole.