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Dark Souls 2: When Less is More

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Most modern games seem to put a huge emphasis on amazing, jaw-dropping graphics, intensely fun gameplay, and a riveting storyline that may very well rival the stories written by our friends in Hollywood. These components are often deemed to be the recipe for a great game.

And well, the formula hasn’t led any games astray. If you think of it, most of the greatest games of all time have two of these three things sorted out. So, it would seem to be the highest degree of tomfoolery if one were to create a game without at least trying to get all three right. In fact, most games strive to get these three things done.

Then there’s Dark Souls 2.

It’s a game that isn’t exactly impressive when it comes to today’s standards. The gameplay isn’t that refined as some of the more popular titles, and the storyline? It’s barely even there.

And yet, I’d proudly say that it’s an amazing game and it’s definitely unique. Why do I say so despite having just said that it has none of the things that makes a video great? Well, it’s really just one word -- experience.

That’s right. This second installment in the masterpiece series from From Software is a great game because of the experience it thrusts gamers into. On the title screen, you’re greeted (or not greeted, rather) by something strange -- there’s no difficulty setting. Not only that, but the beginning of the game already makes you feel that you’re playing on hard mode.

And while this may discourage most casual gamers, those who brave the cruel, unforgiving world of the Dark Souls universe are in for a treat.

In all honesty, even the early enemies you face will kill you if you aren’t skilled enough of a player. There are so many traps, some even posing as chests when they’re in fact mimics that cause instant death to beginners and even those who’ve been playing the game for at least 10 hours. The bosses are not only resistant to the damage you deal, but they also hit like trucks, often killing even high-level players with just two blows.

And the terrain, don’t get me started on the perilous terrain. There are so many areas in the game that make it feel like a horrible copy of a platform game, and well, of course, you die if you fall off.

But that’s not all. The controls are wonky and the honestly feel a little robotic at times. Also, the PVP matchmaking is unbalanced.

But all of these make for a unique experience. And because it’s such a unique experience, this video game is a great game.

Most games will make you feel powerful, they will hold your hand and they will praise you as you play the game.

This game, and the other titles in this series? They will mock you with each death by stating the obvious. Red text appears on the screen saying “You died”. It even tracks the number of times you die in the game as if to add insult to digital injury. It forces you to learn, to adapt, and to overcome.

This game is notorious in the sense that it’s greatly contributed to the spike in the search for services like “game console repair near Detroit, MI” where many controllers and consoles have been destroyed out of frustration from the game.

BUT.

This game is great because it teaches you something most games don’t -- true hard work. The strength to accept that things are going to be difficult, and at times the odds may even seem impossible. Sometimes you may fight as hard as you can and still fall short by one swing of your sword.

And the experience of being able to surmount difficult and nigh impossible odds is one that keeps players coming back to this game. You may even say that this game is a rite of passage of sorts between boys and men in the gaming community.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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