Review: Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King DLC pulls on the Yin & Yang of my heart strings

After running the Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King DLC three times, I feel like I can finally give it a proper review. My initial feelings have only strayed a bit since the very first time. Over all, I have to say I dig it. There are certain aspects I truly truly like, and then others I find to be absolutely abysmal. Is this because I’m too hard on a franchise I absolutely adore, or is it actually as rough as I claim? You be the judge.

For those fearful of spoilers, I’m going to be as vague and gentle as possible. As the title of the DLC suggests, you’re be heading into a fallen ziggurat from an ancient time. So that’s cool, who couldn’t get behind all that biz? How you get there is a bit odd and where you end up is equally as bizarre, but that’s neither here or there.

DSII Witch

In true Dark Souls fashion, any sort of lore you’re looking for comes in the form of item descriptions and environmental hints. If that sounded like a complaint, I assure you it is quite the opposite. If Dark Souls II did any sort of other means of storytelling I’d be downright shocked. Then again, after completing the DLC maybe you should go visit the grave of your favorite king. That’s not a spoiler, is it?

On the topic of environments, love it. The ole sunken temple vibe is really sold. In the past I’ve been critical towards the level design in Dark Souls II, especially in comparison to Dark Souls, but in this DLC they get it right. Perhaps it is due to this region being shut off from the rest of the world., but regardless it’s pretty phenomenal.

The way everything interconnects reminds me a lot of Oolacile Township from Dark Souls Artorias of the Abyss. Imagine Zelda type puzzles in Dark Souls, that. The level design seems to always have you heading downward as well; in several cases denying you access to platforms before you.

DsII Chomp

Your average enemy design is the tops. There are certain things done in this DLC that the Souls’ series has never done and I loved all of that. As vague as I just made that, when you come across these enemies, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – so good. You’ll even come across challenging knight-type foes. They’ll keep you on your toes if you’re not sharp enough. From these knights to gross bugs, to T-Rex Frogs, you get the full gambit. Oh yeah, the Red Phantom invaders are pretty dang tough as well. Both will seem familiar in some way as well.

So despite all the praise, it’s time to get to the bosses. This is the part that hurt me. Two of the three bosses were very ‘recycled.’ What I mean by this is that they took aspects from both Dark Souls games, slightly re-skinned some things, and quite lazily pitted you against these foes. Since I refuse to spoil anything, I wrote an entire editorial about me complaining about this without the spoiler-free filter up. So, if that is something that sparks your curiosity, by all means check it out. All that said, one of the bosses is outstanding and one of the most fun boss encounters I’ve ever had in a Souls’ game.

DSII Fight

All and all, I still suggest you check out this DLC. My annoyance with the whole boss experience did make me salty, but not enough to bash the addition in its entirety. If you like good Dark Souls environments and puzzles, this is definitely the DLC for you.  There aren’t a whole slew of new items, weapons, or spells but keep in mind that this is one of three announced DLCs, there will be more to come. Check out Crown of the Sunken King before I go ahead and beat it for a fourth time. I'd say it takes about 2-4 hours your first time.

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ