Dark Souls #2 Review

Posted May 31, 2016 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written by: George Mann

Art by: Alan Quah, Komikaki Studio & Sean Lee

Publisher: Titan

Going into the first issue of Dark Souls, I knew nothing of the game, its world, or anything between. Since then, my brother has picked up Dark Souls 3 and won’t shut up about the damn thing, so now I know who Aldritch is, what the Lords of Cinder are, and a bunch of other fantasy things from a world I’ll never actually enter. I mean, I’ll probably give Bloodborn a try, but…oh right, this is a comic book review.

So the good news is DS #2 is better than DS#1. We finally get a reason for Fira and Aldritch’s quest, and it’s pretty wonderful if I’m understanding it right. I won’t give anything big away, but it has to do with dragons, and according to my brother, dragons are a big deal in this series (as if that’s shocking when you’re dealing with high fantasy).

The problem is, I jumped to what I think are some very important—very dark—revelations to the end-game of Fira’s quest, but neither of the characters seemed to follow my train of thought. If A, then B, right? I’d have preferred more talk about that than what we get, which is basically a long, drawn out fight sequence with a bunch of monster spiders. Some fantasy stuff happens, and then the comic ends. It thankfully throws in a pretty big twist at the end, but now that I know something about Dark Souls, I don’t think its resolution will be all that grand.

Or to put this a different way: It’s kind of boring.

It would help if I cared about Fira, and just like I mentioned in the first issue, I feel like I should. Between her backstory and her reason for questing, the writers are hitting beats I like to see in a story like this, but it’s somehow coming together in a way that’s overly bland. To be honest, I’m way more interested in Aldritch now that I know a thing or two about him. I’d rather the comic be about him than some dull-as-dirt knight who won’t stop speaking in a grating Early-Modern English accent.

Issue 2 hasn’t changed my main stance on this series then: It’s really only worth reading for the artwork, which is still jaw-dropping amazing. This might be the prettiest comic I’ve ever come across.

As a story though, you can do better.

About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.

Dark Souls 2 Review

Posted March 31, 2014 by Bryan Boshart in

I wander through a fiery castle slowly but surely taking out Alonne Knights who can wipe out my character in two hits. I power my way to a grey wall and walk in. A large furnace demon awakens and we begin to fight, after some careful dodging I get him to nearly half health. He sticks his giant sword into his own stomach and to set it ablaze and launches into a combo string that busts through my block. I recover just in time to roll out of the way of his jumping sword slam (as I have five or six times already). Just as I feel safe he unleashes a concussive blast that kills me. This was just one of my 101 Deaths through the course of the game. While that is probably more than I’ll get in all the rest of the games I will play in the course of the year, it’s actually the games’ most redeeming quality.
As an example after a few deaths against the boss I fought above I decided to change up and advance through the area in a different direction. Fighting tough iron-clad enemies and dodging fire traps sometimes simultaneously proved difficult and I found myself walking up to a small building surrounded on all sides by molten iron. Walking through the grey mist I found a gargantuan lava monster(pictured below) with just a couple spells and one health potion left. Playing as mainly a spell-caster and with nothing but a small hand-ax to attack with I figured I was doomed but after exhausting my spells, potions, and pretty much breaking my ax I managed to fell the beast with a sliver of health left. In that moment all the deaths I had suffered in the area were worth it.

First Rule of Dark Souls. DODGE!!

First Rule of Dark Souls.

The basic formula of the game is die-adapt-conquer (with die probably thrown in a few more times), and while this seems simple it is really quite complex. You quickly have to make an estimated guess on whether your character can block an attack, or if dodging is your only way to survive. If your health is low you have to balance the roughly two seconds it takes to use an estus flask (health potion) versus the speed of an enemy’s attack. These split-second decisions are the only things that keep your character alive. When you finally stay alive long enough to earn a decent amount of souls, you have to decide whether it is best to gain a stat level, buy an important item or spell, or enhance the power of your weapon.
Graphically the game is impressive more so in scope than in execution. My only complaint is that a couple of enemies feel re-used from the original Dark Souls. As good as the game looks, it’s the sound that is truly vital. It ranges from the subtlest click of a floor trap activating to the powerful, orchestral boss fight music that helps instill that David vs Goliath mentality so prevalent throughout. You’ll find yourself pausing in a dark area just to check and make sure the footsteps you hear are your own.
This sequel made more than a few changes to the formula set by Dark Souls. From the start of the game you are now able to teleport to any previously lit bonfire, which is necessary due to the fact that the game areas feel more like long connected corridors than a true open world. The game also now starts you with just one estus flask from the beginning having to find shards to earn further uses. This change makes the beginning significantly more difficult in the beginning than its predecessor.
While everything I’ve mentioned above makes the game seem like a single player title, it really isn’t. Dark Souls manages to fuse PVE Co-op and PVP better than almost any game on the planet. At nearly any time, an invader (player) from another world can invade your game instantly becoming your enemy. To send them packing you can either engage them in battle or make your way to a boss gate. These PVP instances add to the games difficulty, but don’t fret because you are not alone. The game encourages you to summon allies from other worlds as well. Whether you use them to help combat the invaders or as meat shields for a boss, it helps to balance the game.
My favorite part of the game is that unlike many games now, the game clocks in at easily over 30 hours for a first play. It also encourages not just one extra play, but multiple plays. Also I enjoy how the game secretly hides a deep story. Unlike most RPG’s, it doesn’t beat you over the head with exposition, instead you learn a little nugget of knowledge from dialogue with NPC’s that helps you piece together what exactly is happening in this dystopian world.

This guy is likely the first boss you'll face

This guy is likely the first boss you’ll face

In Conclusion:
If you have the stomach to endure multiple deaths, Dark Souls is a fantastic action-rpg that does almost everything well. The game’s systems lend a massive amount of depth to go along with the game’s already impressive length.