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Dark Souls II: Crown of the Old Iron King Review

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On 10/23/2014 at 12:00 PM by Chris Yarger

Round 2 of DLC, let’s go die some more!

Another solid installment of DLC for a game that was already based upon greatness.

“Haunting” is a perfect word for the realms of the Souls games. No matter how you look at any given landscape, you can always scrape away the remaining rays of hope and damn near breathe in the tragedies that aerate from the world around you. From the initial moment you step in to the domain of the Old Iron King, you hear the ghosts of the past crying for help as you walk through the ashen covered landscapes that are filled with dusty remains of those who never made it to see another day. There is no light to be seen, and the despair can be enough to madden to most stoic of heroes.

This is exactly how Crown of the Old Iron King (COIK) greets its newest adventurers, and it’s also how it continues throughout your journey. From the moment you step in to the lands of the Old Iron King, you’re metaphorically and metaphysically haunted. Initially presented with bodies laid and strewn amongst the desolate landscape, you’ll soon stumble across an Ashen Idol who is constantly whispering bits of lore through a multilayered and trembling voice. It’s the Ashen Idol who will seemingly stalk you throughout Brume’s Towers, yet she never moves. Instead, she’s split into 12 different selves, and she is scattered throughout the lands whispering her distrusts and healing or reviving your enemies. Only to be stopped with a certain key item, you’ll find that she hovers around more often than you’d like since you’re occasionally unable to be rid of her.

This simply sets the pace for COIK though, as the enemies that can be healed and occasionally revived often will frequently hit you in rapid succession with the power of a moving locomotive. Power isn’t everything though, as From Software has specially crafted some new and innovative enemies specifically for crushing your bones and soul. Whether it’s an archer who can throw its bow in the air to shoot over cover or simply a dual axe wielding maniac with godly strength, the newest foes are all well equipped for your slaughter.

The best part of these overly powerful foes is the fact that From Software managed to purposely place advantageously designed ambushes in front of the player to give you an edge in what would normally look like an impossible battle. Whether you’re standing high above or off afar, you can typically see when an ambush is going to ensue, allowing you to grasp the general concept of the area before jumping into combat or simply taking long range pot-shots at your enemies, with the latter typically working well in your advantage.

One remarkable feat in which I noticed though is the higher intelligence of the localized Red Phantoms. Not only do they closely mimic typical PVP actions and greetings, they also make semi-humanistic decisions as well, such as running away only to lead you in to an ambush, or even gank-tactics at times. This grandiose form of intelligence however is only found in the Red Phantoms and Archers, for any other enemy will undoubtedly charge you on a whim.

Don’t think for a moment that the more intelligent Red Phantoms are your only worry though, for the bosses in COIK are absolutely brutal. Though only one is relatively fast, the others have incredible damage potentials and the maneuvers/gimmicks used will often cause controller-snapping rages. Unlike Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old King has had me on the ropes more times than I could count. Whether it’s a boss that charges halfway across the screen in a flash or another that is simply a buffed version of a previous foe from the original content, you will rage endlessly.

I tried various rerolls of different builds. I tried new items and armors/weapons. I even tried tanking, yet prevailing over these bosses was something I easily found myself failing spectacularly at. The only true and tried answer I found was the good old fashioned way of learning how to deal with it through my mistakes; aka, Dark Souls Smarts.

What really separates this DLC from the other installments and add-ons within the Souls universe is how well it helps you without ever truly holding your hand and guiding you in the right direction. COIK utilizes innate knowledge found within any gamer as a tutorial to this new world and its designs. From the moment you pull your first Smelter Wedge, you’ll have a profound sense on how to use them and what to use them on. The instant you see your first fire trap on a set of tracks, you’ll instinctively attack it to send it towards your enemies. As I stated above, even the ambushes were intentionally designed to give you the upper edge, and all of this is a sure-tell of just how well designed a world can truly be.

Brume Tower is an amazing experience. Even if incredible difficulties may slightly bar you and stifle the experience a bit, you’ll still find plenty to take away from this installment in terms of wonderful enemies, amazing world designs and traps to use to your advantage, and an incredible feeling of being haunted by the mistakes made by those who previously wandered throughout these towers. While I still feel as if I have plenty left to do, Crown of the Old Iron King has left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth (it may be blood, I’ll check in a bit) that leaves me wanting and coming back for more.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




10/23/2014 at 11:30 PM

Crown Of The Old Iron King was really, really good.  I found the Sir Alonne fight pretty easy...Fume Knight was killer on New Game ++.  I never tried Smelty more than once, as I didn't think it the run up to him was very practically requires you to summon help.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

10/27/2014 at 07:05 AM

It was damn good!

Too bad the re-skinned the Smelter Demon and threw it back in. Not sure entirely why, but I really really really hate that boss...


10/25/2014 at 02:02 AM

Damn you Yargz now I want to get Dark Souls II with all the dlc which I cant afford grrrrrrrr well maybe at tax time Laughing

Oh and Chris you should check out Tears of Tiara II I think you would like.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

10/27/2014 at 07:06 AM

My Backlog is starting to look like a hoarders wet-dream right now, but I'll definitely check this out sometime!

(Even made a post-it note memo for later, thanks!)

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