It has been a good few months since I last visited Drangleic, the fantasy setting for Dark Souls 2 and just like your best t-shirt that the Mrs ruined by putting her dings into it; this is still my favourite game, but it is not quite the same.
Whilst the dark and dreary world of Drangleic has not changed, the fiery pits of Iron Keep to the poisoned lakes of Harvest Valley still hold their dangerous beauty, in the Scholar of the First Sin it is the inhabitants that have moved on. Dark Souls 2 was a game where repeated play was key to learning patterns and enemy layout, so for returning players this is a very new challenge as things are now different, some hollows have left one room and ganged up in another area, some rooms now lie empty, others replaced with new beasts to overcome and for a returning gamer this proves to be one of the many strong reasons to replay this Dark Souls 2 update.
Releasing just a week after Bloodborne may not have been the greatest idea, as even with the faultless gameplay, Dark Souls II does look a little dated, especially when compared to From Software’s newest title. That said though, the visuals are still a huge improvement on the already impressive original release with the higher definition granting much deeper clarity, so where as before certain characters were hard to make out, now you can see every wrinkle and fang. The more powerful consoles also allow for a much smoother experience, the game able to handle even the most frantic of moments, a problem that dogged the last game and caused many deaths, now it is as smooth as silk and makes it play like an entirely different game.
Aside from the above points this is still a classic Dark Souls game by From Software, a third person action with light role playing elements when it comes to levelling up your characters and weapons, spending the souls of felled hollows to boost your many stats, the now classic series mechanic of taking any souls you have earned if you fail in battle, adding a high element of fight or flee to every encounter as you traverse perilous lands in search of the souls of some beastly behemoths, attempting to win back your humanity in this dead world by using a variety of spells, miracles and an impressive assortment of close quarters and ranged weapons. Though many improvements have been made, Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin still has the hard-to-figure-out summon system, requiring you to use items that restore your humanity and then search for other players signs; but when it does work, playing as a team to take on the larger bosses is still a blast.
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin also comes with three extra quests that were released previously on the older consoles, Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old Iron King and Crown of the Ivory King, each one offering new challenges and more importantly, new weapons to try out.
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin is an interesting way to re-release an older game, upping the visual quality, bundling all of the DLC but also tinkering with the enemy layout does not necessarily make it a new game, but adds a little fun to an old idea.
+ Higher definition visuals
+ Smooth frame rate
+ Classic Souls gameplay
+ New enemy layout
- The visuals are just a polished last generation graphics
* You can read our original review for Dark Souls II here.