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Dark Souls II 360, PS3

We knew Dark Souls II would give us a dozen dif­fer­ent ways to play, but we never ex­pected any­thing quite like the Rat King Covenant. ‘Bro­dents’, as they’ve been nick­named, sum­mon play­ers to the Grave Of Saints, mak­ing foes run a gaunt­let of traps and hos­tile en­e­mies. We watch, we laugh, and if they make it up the lad­der, we’re wait­ing at the top with a pot of ar­mour-wreck­ing acid.

Dark Souls II 360, PS3

An­other op­tion pre­sents it­self the mo­ment you dis­cover en­e­mies even­tu­ally stop respawn­ing. It al­ters the way you plan boss runs and changes the value of souls, sure, but we’ve found there’s a peace­ful beauty to be found in ar­eas har­vested and cleared of threats. Soon enough, that pleas­ing sense of cleans­ing the world had us lap­ping ar­eas un­til noth­ing was left, then ig­nit­ing a Bon­fire As­cetic and do­ing it all again.

Dark Souls II 360, PS3

Fi­nally, there’s the sim­ple thrill of ex­plo­ration. We’re still find­ing new ar­eas, hid­den trea­sures and il­lu­sory walls on our third playthrough, and in the process are de­vel­op­ing a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Dran­gleic. It may not have the co­her­ent, corkscrew­ing de­sign of Lor­dran, but Dark Souls II’s more open struc­ture means you can tour its var­ied world in al­most any or­der you like. Nat­u­rally, we’re leav­ing The Gut­ter un­til there are no other op­tions left.

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