I feel emotionally drained. Dark Souls 2 gave me hope. It beckoned me toward a glorious sunrise and calming waters into a tranquil haven. A quaint wooden shack, a beautiful panoramic view across the mountains and a warm glowing fire reassured me that everything was going to be okay. It took me by the hand through its tutorial where I slaughtered low-level grunts like a knife through butter. And then, after presuming that developer From Software had made its notoriously-difficult RPG series more accessible to the masses, it battered me so hard that I had to switch off and give myself time to think and recuperate before attempting to sink back into the tough mind-set that you simply have to maintain in order to be a successful Dark Souls adventurer.
Then I logged back in, composed myself, re-thought my strategy and tried again. I died again. My spirit wavered, again. Then I mustered every ounce of mental energy I had left in me to attempt to conquer the group of heavily-armoured, giant-sized Knights and boss that had been making my life hell for hours. When I finally defeated them, I felt triumphant, pumping my fist in the air like I’d just knocked out a heavyweight champion. A sense of achievement; the same rush of adrenaline that fans of Dark Souls will know all too well. And then…Dark Souls 2 battered me again, and again, and again. But still, I kept coming back for more.
Yes, Dark Souls 2 really hasn’t changed its tact for this second game in the series. For the masochists among us, the original title's incredibly tough challenge proved to be the ultimate test and, no matter how many times you got battered, coming back for more until you worked out how to kill a creature was as addictive as crack. In terms of difficulty, Dark Souls 2 picks up exactly where the original title left off and, though it starts off by easing you into the game - giving you real hope and a fighting chance - it soon brings you crashing back down to Earth with a bump. The first Trophy you unlock, 'THIS IS DARK SOULS,’ is an immediate reminder that you will keep dying if you don’t look before you leap. In fact, even the most cautious and skilled will die anyway. Consequently, Dark Souls 2 demands only the best warriors, sorcerers and explorers; not mere mortals and the impatient. For those who persist, the rewards are there for the taking.