By: Jeff Cater
In Crown of the Old Iron King, the second piece of downloadable content for Dark Souls 2, your adventurer is sent to a place called Brume Tower. If you have played the original game, you’ll have an immediate suspicion as to what you will find in this forsaken land: enemies bathed in fire and landscapes painted in ash. This DLC takes place high in the skies, making the area feel connected to the Dragon Aerie from the vanilla game.
Visually, it’s somewhat of a disappointment compared to Crown of the Sunken King. While the new enemy types and bits of the environment look fittingly desperate and dreary, textures tend to get extremely muddy when you are in the outdoor areas. The interiors, however, are oft decorated with a dark, royal feel. Someone of snobbish importance directed the construction of this tower, to confuse and confound.
Tight corridors lead to tighter gangways where multiple enemies must be reckoned with. These tight quarters can either severely hinder your play style or provide a completely new set of options for the crafty player. And if you are adept at playing any Souls game, you ought to be a little crafty, at least.
Visuals aside, the gameplay is what truly matters, and DS2 fans can rejoice in the fact that there are several new, dangerous enemies that help the environment come to wicked life. One of these enemies pours lava from his back while fighting him, so the circle-around technique might not be the best way to dispatch this foe.
Along with that guy comes innocent looking barrels with legs that just violently blow up anything and everything around them, which, if you are a clever player (and you are, aren’t you?), can be used as walking traps to cause splash damage to surrounding foes.
In Crown of the Old Iron King, you explore the forsaken halls and slowly get the gist of what happened here, or what is possibly still in the process of happening. Upon first stepping into the tower of Brume, you’ll notice that the ground seems to be covered in a thick layer of snow. Continuing your journey, the snow in question could very well be ashes of old conflicts in the tower.
In your quest you will come across piles of ashen, cindery bones that can either cause enemies to spawn nearby or provide damage buffs to existing foes. These pyres of ash and fire are fragments of Nadia’s Soul, wife of the Iron King. To dismantle the idols is to alleviate much difficulty from your travels here, but be warned that these idols are well-guarded and have intelligence of their own, displaying survival tactics in the form of things that usually burn the crap out of you.
Since you’re reading this, you probably enjoy the difficulty of the Souls series. Here, in Crown of the Old Iron King, you will find much challenge up ahead. While a boss fight is recycled from the vanilla game (SPOILERS: !!!!!!!! It’s a color palette swapped Smelter Demon… even with the same name), there are new fights that will test any Souls player’s patience and skill. One boss in particular, closer to the end, is nigh impossible without the aid of other players’ phantoms. I’m sure he can be taken out solo, but the fight is long and arduous enough even with two people helping you out.
Crown of the Old Iron King has value measurable far past the $9.99 price of admission, especially for collectors of items (there are several new pieces of armor and weapons) and hardcore Souls fanatics. Yes, the DLC recycles a boss fight, but even that part is still interesting due to the environmental factors. There are some textures that are pretty yucky, but those moments are kept to a minimum due to the pacing of the adventure laid in front of you.