Publisher: Namco Bandai

Developer: From Software

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Release date: Available Now

The first DLC for Dark Souls II has finally been released in the form of Crown of the Sunken King. It is the first episode released in what will be a trilogy DLC offerings for Dark Souls II from developer From Software and it is off to a strong start.

As typical for Dark Souls games, story is derived and extracted from the environment. This time around players are attempting to reclaim a crown previously owned by King Vendrick, a character central to the story of Dark Souls II, but there's plenty of details woven in the experience that gives you some idea of what happened to the area you'll be adventuring in. It provides some of the most interesting and difficult challenges that I've seen in this game. Your perilous adventure takes you to forgotten cities, labyrinthine tombs, and ancient lakes, all of which are predictably laced with things looking to end your life. Sunken King's rocky inclines and crumbling chambers don't so much twist and turn as gently lead you astray, and the interconnections are more foreshadowed. It will take about five hours to find and defeat the final boss, and that's even if you lose your way a few times.

Deep in the heart of Drangelic then, through the poison filled Black Gulch, in a cavern so vast that the ground above must be paper thin, are a number of giant stone pyramids, cave systems, and tombs that must be explored to reclaim the crown. The area is filled with switches, traps, and hidden paths. The whole area is teeming with enemies making your quest quite the challenging one.  There is one area in particular where ferocious dinosaurs menacingly lurk in a vast underground lake to the climatic final battle with a nasty boss, Sinh the Slumbering Dragon. In true Dark Souls fashion this is unusually challenging stuff and you will die a thousand deaths. But before you even get to that stage, you will have to navigate a world that is littered with death traps which is why Dark Souls remains as one of the most frustrating games you will ever play. Much of the difficulty comes from the enemies you find down in the jungle of Sanctum City and its surrounding areas. There are ghostly phantoms, that scoff at your sword attacks making them hard to defeat. You'll encounter black knights who are nimble and agile and who will roll under your attacks, and counter with their own deadly attacks. There are numerous dark phantoms that will invade your game at inopportune moments, one of which can only be beaten by using carefully timed parries. If that isn't enough trouble for you then consider the environment itself, a giant interlocking puzzle with platforms that are raised and lowered by activating glowing pillars. I think by now you get the picture: there's trouble lurking in every nook and cranny.

The XXL Endgame

Crown of the Sunken King is a great start for this series of add-on chapters for Dark Souls II. Great level design working in conjecture with a new puzzle solving element offers fans six million ways to die. —written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)

XXL Rating: XL (Excellent)