Dark Souls 2 DLC: Crown of the Sunken King – Review

Gare – Friday, August 22, 2014 8:04 PM
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Dark Souls 2 came, saw and conquered – while in our very own review of the title, I did end up calling the game a case of “more of the same” – a Dark Souls 1.5, if you will – From Software’s addition to the Souls saga this March (April on PC) still ended up being a memorable journey I did not regret embarking on. But that wasn’t the end of things: three separate DLC packs were confirmed for the game, the first of which, titled Crown of the Sunken King, has already been released. You can expect a few hours of additional pain and suffering in good old DS2 fashion, coupled with some new gear and bosses. Psst: a dragon may or may not be involved.

In order to access the DLC area, you’ll first have to unlock the Black Gulch (if you haven’t already) and defeat its area boss, The Rotten (if you haven’t already). Look for a tiny cave opening up from the boss room to find a primal bonfire and the strange altar behind it – this is your gateway to the sunken city and the first DLC funhouse. Once inside, you’re confronted by a relatively open area that, in its level design, resembles the first Dark Souls far more than the actual main game it’s currently attached to. That’s hardly a bad thing, though – the wonderfully multi-leveled and vertical design reminiscent of Dark Souls 1’s areas is a welcome change in the DLC. You’ll be going up and down lifts, finding shortcuts and looking for hidden switches to shoot; you’ll be standing in the middle of nowhere atop massive stone bridges, overlooking areas down below – areas that you can very much walk to and explore later on, giving you that special kind of “oh, that tiny area in the distance is the place I’ve just been to a while ago!” feeling.

Pleasant, painful surprises

On the whole, veterans already controlling powerful end-game characters will probably not have *too* much difficulty navigating through the underground caverns and catacombs of the city, despite the added difficulty – still, there are always exceptions, so be prepared for a number of painful surprises and a few specific enemies (including one extremely cruel NPC invader) with AI clever enough to put even the most seasoned adventurers on their toes. Speaking of caverns and catacombs, that’s mostly what you can expect from this DLC both visually and atmosphere-wise – in other words, something like the original campaign’s Undead Crypt, with a touch of Shrine of Amana here and there. This, unfortunately, also makes the new areas feel slightly recycled with a distinct aftertaste of déja vu. It’s no deal breaker, as the new enemies, bosses and traps still provide for a decent challenge, but on the whole, the sunken city did not deliver what I would consider a radically different dungeon crawling experience. This becomes even more apparent with the three boss fights present in the expansion, most of which brought nothing surprisingly new and different to the table – in fact, one of the “bosses” is merely a trio of three regular-sized enemies ganging up on the player, nothing more. They were fun, for sure, but fun in the “this is just like the main campaign, and I guess I liked that” sort of way – they’re mostly just extensions or repetitions of things you’ve seen and experienced in the core game. On the flip side, the DLC features what might very well be my new favorite armor set – visually speaking –, so there’s that, I guess.

In closing, Crown of the Sunken King, while not perfect, is a decent enough addition to an already enjoyable game. It didn’t quite blow me away, I’ll admit – but if you loved the main campaign, you’ll probably want to pick this up to enjoy yet another – albeit fairly brief – descent into the abyss.

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