How much of your humanity are you willing to give up for even the slightest chance of victory? Dark Souls II asks this question of you at every turn, encouraging you to press onward in spite of imminent death. And with each death, you lose a little of your humanity and become more hollow. Your maximum health slightly diminishes each time as well, eventually sinking to 50 percent of its full value, and yet as each sliver of humanity is sliced away, you heed the call to move onward. Eventually, you overcome the obstacle that stood between you and victory--that quartet of gargoyles swarming you on a rooftop, that arachnoid demon plunging poisonous pincers into your flesh, that disgusting mound of meat that defies description. You have triumphed! But your gain does not come without sacrifice. You have sworn, you have gasped, and you have sweated. You have forfeited your own humanity so you might collect the souls of the damned
Like Dark Souls and Demon's Souls before it, Dark Souls II is not just a fantasy role-playing adventure, but a cloud that hangs heavy over your head whenever you so much as think about it. These modern classics developed by From Software have rightfully earned a reputation for being brutally difficult, but their beauty is derived not solely from difficulty, but also from dread. Dark Souls II is not a survival horror game in the normal sense, but few games can make you this afraid to peer around the corner, while simultaneously curious as to what awaits you there. Death is so very beautiful in this game, for it comes at the hands of amazing beasts and warmongers: hulking armored knights, shimmering otherworldly invaders, and tendrils that rise out of black pools of poison. Sure, each death punctures your heart, but one of Dark Souls II's many gruesome pleasures is discovering new ways to die.
The eerie blackness is front and center as you start up the game and enter the mysterious abode in front of you. Three old crones await you inside and ask you to customize your character and choose a class before venturing into the unknown. Like most of Dark Souls II's characters, these women offer vague advice and refer to events and concepts without filling in the details