By: Jeff Cater
With the first of three planned DLC packs for Dark Souls II, From Software is eagerly awaiting your foray into the Crown of The Sunken King, mostly to watch you die more.
Thankfully, this DLC feels as though it was crafted specifically to be released at a later date, rather than having the feeling that From chopped segments of the game to later release them. No, Crown of The Sunken King doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, the challenges found within will test the skill and patience of any Souls player, while not really feeling like DLC, which is great. It clocks in at about 10 hours, or more if you get stuck in a dying rut, which is entirely possible here.
From expects you to have beaten the game already, or at least have progressed through a great amount of it, as the entrance for the DLC resides next to a boss room (The Rotten) that generally is taken out mid- or late-game. Upon finding the entrance, you’re promptly teleported (or summoned?) to the city of Shulva.
The architecture decorating the vast underground cave identifies closely with that of ancient Egyptian or Mayan structures. Segmented pyramids disappear into the depths of the cavern, various deity-like statues and carvings are in an abundant supply so there is no confusion that Shulva is indeed a place with its own distinct personality.
The underground city also worships an ancient dragon, awaiting its return for salvation. So devout have they been in the belief that this dragon held a cure for the curse that it drove them mad in their anticipation. Much like the rest of the game, the inhabitants are either long dead and wandering the grounds, or they’ve simply gone bat-shit crazy.
The new enemies that you’ll face certainly don’t mess around, and seem to have ABSURD levels of Poise (the higher your Poise stat, the harder to be knocked out of an attack animation). I tried several different builds and was unable to find one that worked perfectly, unlike the rest of the areas in the main game where each enemy is weak to a certain effect. Maybe there are some secrets I’ve yet to unearth in this city that’d help me, but as of now it stands that the DLC is JUST DAMN DIFFICULT!
And that is a great thing. Not only are the new enemies fun and challenging to face, but the city and surrounding areas are puzzles themselves. Introduced in Shulva are totems that, when struck, move a piece of the level around. This can be do something as simple as adjusting the height of a tower right next to you to producing effects that are not immediately discernable.
Unfortunately, the only downside to all the new things in the DLC are the boss fights. While a couple of them stand out as original, the rest feel like stat-shifted versions of bosses in previous segments of the game. This, of course, will not deter any Souls player I know, as the game is heavily based on repetition in the first place.
What fun would it be to dice these new enemies up and explore these untouched locales without any new gear? Crown of The Sunken King awesomely provides a few new sets of armor and a few new weapons, all of which are fitting of not only the DLC but to Dark Souls II in general.
Crown of The Sunken King is how a DLC pack should feel. In fact, they couldn’t have found a better way to initiate the chapter. With Dark Souls‘ lore so obscure and ponderous, this will help flesh out any theories as to why the Giants crossed the sea, why Vendrick paces his room into infinitely and much more. Keep in mind, there are no answers, only the means to help you make your own, which is a specialty of From Software.