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Dark Souls II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: From Software
Release Date: March 11, 2014 (US), March 14, 2014 (EU)


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PS3 Review - 'Dark Souls II' Crown of the Sunken King DLC

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 4, 2014 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Dark Souls II continues a legacy of goading its passionate fan base with unrelenting challenge and suffering that are considered a hallmark of the series; while presenting new devilishly devised obstacles for players to overcome.

Buy Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King is the first of the three scheduled DLCs for Dark Souls II. You'll be able to access it as soon as you purchase it and have reached the Primal Bonfire in the Black Gluch. Players are teleported to a new area, the Sanctum City of Shulva, with the quest to find the titular Crown of the Sunken King. There's not a lot of story in this DLC, just more gameplay. Those who haven't purchased the DLC can still be summoned to it with messages, but to experience the full content, you'll need to shell out $10. Fortunately, the DLC is worth the cost for any Dark Souls aficionado.

Crown of the Sunken King is rough, even for Dark Souls veterans. The enemies are extremely nasty and are taxing for skilled players. There are barely visible knights who wander the area and are all but immune to physical damage unless you break the statues powering them. Poison traps and statues are commonplace and can inflict ridiculous amounts of damage if you let them. The centerpiece is the bosses. The final boss of the area, Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon, is one of the nastiest bosses you'll encounter in a Dark Souls title. It attacks relentlessly and can shred through your weapon's durability like a hot knife through butter. Like other Dark Souls enemies, foes are difficult but fair. You'll certainly die at the hands of the new nasties that populate Sanctum City and its surrounding areas, but almost always, it's because of your own mistakes.

As anyone who has played Dark Souls knows, the levels are often as deadly and dangerous as the creatures that inhabit them. In addition to the aforementioned dangers, you can expect other twists and turns, such as pit traps, pressure pads, puzzles, spikes, and ever-shifting environments that can be altered by hitting pillars. It's a very cool effect that keeps the environment fresh. None of it should be too intimidating for Dark Souls veterans, and I really enjoyed exploring each new area as I delved into the dungeon.

As you'd expect, the DLC also comes with a host of new items and spells. Enemies wield Sanctum weapons and armor, and you can earn some special pieces of equipment from powerful enemies — or loot them from corpses. Likewise, you'll find rings, spells and various other magical artifacts. My favorite is the Denial miracle, which allows you to survive any non-falling lethal damage with a sliver of hit points. You can imagine how useful this is, especially when invaded by an enemy player who's out for your blood. None of this equipment is a requirement, and I never felt the DLC was giving me pay-to-win bonuses. The new enemies and equipment feel like a natural addition to the game, and in some ways, that may feel a little disappointing. Many DLCs feel like big events, but Crown of the Sunken King just feels like another well-designed area. You won't feel like you're missing anything by not having the DLC, but if you do have it, it does improve the game.

One of the big things about Crown of the Sunken King is that it is a lot more in line with Dark Souls than it is Dark Souls II. The level design is very self-contained, so it feels like each area is part of a larger whole. It's a nice feature that was noticeably missing from Dark Souls II. Most of the mechanics and concepts are in line with what you'd expect from Dark Souls II, but the level design is nicely nostalgic for those who were fond of the original Dark Souls.

All in all, the content in Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King boils down to around two hours for a playthrough, although deaths and retries have the potential to bloat that number. More importantly, Crown of the Sunken King is two hours of pure Dark Souls fun. It doesn't feel half-baked, tacked on or rushed. It's as polished and well-designed as the main game, and while it doesn't reinvent the wheel, it certainly breathes new life into the game for those who have already mastered its many challenges. Any Dark Souls fan will find the DLC to be well worth the $10 price tag. It can be purchased separately or as part of the Dark Souls II season pass, which comes with two other DLCs, The Crown of the Old Iron King and The Crown of the Ivory King, which are coming in the next few months.

Score: 8.0/10

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