Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King review - a handful of new, tougher enemies

£7.99; Namco Bandai; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Oliver Cragg
Wednesday 30 July 2014 12:22
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If it was ever a daunting task to produce a full sequel to the original Dark Souls, developer From Software didn’t let it show by delivering a largely uncompromised successor to the series’ brutal legacy. Nevertheless, matching Dark Souls’ sublime expansion pack - Artorias of the Abyss - is an equally unenviable task with it holding a strong claim towards being the greatest piece of DLC in videogame history.

While Crown of the Sunken King – the first part of an upcoming trilogy – may not reach the lofty heights of its intricate byzantine structures, it does effectively harken back to the first game’s interwoven design ethos that many felt was lacking within Dark Souls II. The DLC’s subterranean hub Shulva is an Escher-like maze where granite pyramids and mechanised towers can be manipulated to reveal two further areas that are natural geographical progressions rather than distinct ‘levels’. With little to no dialogue additions within Crown of the Sunken King, its landscapes alone tell the story of a forgotten dynasty hidden under falling water and crumbling rock.

Between you and the lost crown lie a handful of new enemies the most notable of which are the tricky Black Drakeblood Knights that parry your attacks with ease and the grotesque draconic reptiles The Imperfect. New items such as the appropriately named Puzzling Stone Sword that separates into shards when swung and a ring that enhances damage for those unencumbered by heavy equipment also add complexity to the already minutely balanced process of class building.

The boss inclusions, however, are an unwelcome disappointment with the cave’s slumbering dragon acting as the only real highlight among a trio of encounters that frustrate by throwing forth multiple foes at once, rather than challenging alone on their own merit.

For those prepared to die, Crown of the Sunken King is a short, but significant triumph and an encouraging prologue for the chapters left to come.

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