Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Action, Survival
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC
Tested on: Xbox One

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin – Review

Site Score
9.3
Good: Improved version, Smoother, Graphical updates
Bad: Glitches, AI bugs, Might not be 100% interesting for veteran Dark Souls II players
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Dark Souls II is a title that frustrated many gamers even though most of them kept coming back for more. The game that dropped you in the middle of nowhere to fend for yourself and hopefully reach the end of the game, to once again regain your humanity, is back: tweaked, slightly altered and on the next-gen consoles. It’s only a matter of time before one becomes hollow, like the many monsters you will have to face.

Note: As we reviewed the game upon its initial release on the last generation, some portions of this review might be shorter than usual. Be sure to click here for our original Dark Souls II review and here and here for two of the DLC reviews.

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Story

Just like in the original release of Dark Souls II the plot is quite thin, as it limits itself to you losing your humanity and your quest to regain it. You will be thrown in a dark and eerie world, where monsters lurk behind every corner and it’s clear from the start it will be no walk in the park to reach the king and complete your quest.

The extra DLC, which is included in this version, will add a little extra story value, but again in a very minimalistic way. However, do not fret, there would not be any real time to enjoy a storyline anyway, as survival itself will already demand your full attention.

Graphics

Even though Dark Souls II has entered the dawn of the new generation of consoles, the graphical strength has not improved that much compared to its initial release. Some textures are slightly improved, certain motions are a lot smoother and you’ll see little improvements scattered around the world.

Although the entire world looks slightly better, the game suffers from many graphical glitches. You’ll often see floating corpses, enemies stuck in the wall, enemies attacking through walls, corpses that serve as invisible walls and corpses that slide away over the ground to infinity and beyond.

Whilst most of these glitches are no real annoyances that mess around with the overall gameplay mechanics, they might become an eyesore if you encounter as many as we did.

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Sound

As for the soundtrack of the game, it remained the same. You’ll be able to enjoy a reasonably calm soundtrack, with some action sequences, when the mood asks for it. Other than that, there is not much spoken dialogue in the game, but what’s present has been done in a qualitative way.

Gameplay

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is still an action RPG at its core, with the action reigning supreme. It’s the basic formula of ‘slay all evil’ and that without any hand holding along the way. You’ll get thrown in the game and after that you’re on your own to fend for yourself. That being said, some basic instructions are given in the area right after you’ve created your character and picked your class.

Those who played the original Dark Souls or Dark Souls II, will know that this game is no walk in the park. You will notice that your power is often equal to or a lot lower than that of the monsters you’re fighting. You will have to rely on learning the patterns of your enemies, looking around every corner and above all: do not charge your enemies as a raging lunatic. If you die the game will punish you for lacking the skill to conquer your foes. Each time you die, your maximum health will get limited, until you use a fairly rare item to reset your total amount of HP.

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Combat will prove to be quite tricky at the beginning, but you will get the hang of it more or less, the further you progress. As you will be dodging many attacks, you will need to get properly acquainted with the combat mechanics in order to successfully survive every ordeal. The initial release of Dark Souls II ran at a lower frame rate and was overall a lot less smooth and slower. This causes certain dodges to feel too slow at certain times, which in turn might mess up your lucky/survival streak. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is a lot smoother when it comes to movement and everything that has to do with combat. In a way it makes it easier for the player to control his chosen champion to fight against evil. With the updated feel of fighting, the combat is actually even more realistic and perhaps one of the best mechanics of combat on the market.

The game can be played in different fashions, depending on your play style. You can  either choose to progress as much and as fast as you can, or farm your enemies until they stop respawning. Both ways have their merits and both ways can prove to be entertaining. If you finish the main story, you will still be able to restart your game with your main hero or complete the DLC that was added to this bundle.

Even explorers will get their slice of the pie, as there are many hidden passages and objects to be found in the different areas you will need to wade yourself through. Extra items and extra kills will come in handy, as they earn you souls, which are the currency of pretty much everything in the game. You will need to pay souls for your weapons, armor, consumables and so on.

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Even though all seems ‘good’ in this forsaken world, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin still has a few issues that can become bothersome from time to time. You’ll encounter monsters that are bugged and won’t even notice you, even if you keep running into them (I’m not talking about the neutral monsters in the game). Whilst these may be easy kills, it takes away the edge of the game. Also, you will still find a decent amount of invisible walls, that will obstruct you if you wish to run away from an enemy.

Players who already played the original game and still wish to purchase this title for their spiffy new consoles, will be surprised by the fact that the developers decided to switch the original monster spawns. While the game resembles the original version, you will quite often see slight adjustments to which monster spawns where and you will also encounter certain stronger enemies earlier in the game.

Conclusion

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin proves to be a great update of the original release with a lot of extra DLC thrown into the mix. Combat proves to be near perfect in this version for the next-gen consoles, making up for the graphical and small gameplay bugs that might annoy you on your quest to regain your humanity. A great title for those new to the franchise and perhaps veterans who wish to retry beating the game in this modernized version.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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