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Dark Souls II preview: I died 8 times in an hour and loved it

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 3, 2014
Earlier this week I played the first hour of Dark Souls II. I died exactly eight times: Three times by falling off cliffs, once by drowning, once by the hands of a hulking troll whose swipes were so powerful he occasionally over-balanced and fell, once by the poison of a horrific man-lizard-thing with a fleshy sac hanging off its stomach, once by the sword of a fifteen-foot-tall beast of a man clad in fearsome black armor, and once by way of some demon pigs which swarmed me and chewed me to bits.

And while that feeling still remains in Dark Souls II, the game largely ditches the desaturated look (though the PlayStation 3 build I played — Xbox 360 and PC versions are also planned — was clearly still a graphical work-in-progress). One of the first areas you'll enter after the tutorial is a modest village, situated on a Cliffside and bathed in the warm glow of the sun. It's forlorn and melancholy — a place past its prime — but entirely different tonally from the cold, dead lands of the first game.

The tavern at the beginning of the game is another great example, lit as it is with soft orange candlelight. You instinctively know this is a safe place. I have no doubt the developers take advantage of these subliminal color patterns in later areas to subvert your expectations and transform a "safe" place into a trap, but it was a relief to sit and rest a while.

Because hey — even cursed warriors need a place to call home between fights with hulking trolls and demon pigs.

 

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