It’s hard to imagine just what kind of deprived souls could craft the grueling, torturous, and for many, downright cruel game that is Dark Souls. But luckily, fans won’t have to, thanks to a new developer video going behind the scenes at From Software, the team preparing to release a second brutal dose of punishment onto their fan base in the form of Dark Souls 2.
The studio provides a glimpse at the studio’s ‘Dark Intentions,’ including story design, themes, and what aspects of the previous game will be carried over. Dark Souls may have been made famous for its gameplay and learning curve, but it’s clear that the developers aren’t looking to simply deliver a second helping.
As always, it comes as a relief to hear director Yui Tanimura promise that the studio isn’t looking to punish players just for the fun of it, but for the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with defeating a task previously thought unbeatable. That was the philosophy at the heart of Dark Souls, and is almost an antithesis of how most triple-A developers and publishers view approachability. To appeal to a mass audience, they reason, the game can’t be so hard that it makes players feel defeated.
Yet the success and word-of-mouth that Dark Souls enjoyed in both East and West is clear evidence that not all gamers are looking for a helping hand (the bigger the obstacle, the more satisfying it is to leap over). Of course, From Software has claimed that they are working to make Dark Souls 2 more approachable – a sentiment met with immediate concern, forcing the developer to clarify that they wouldn’t be making the game any easier, simply more spelled-out from the start. And that’s one aspect that the story might intend to address.
Talking about story in the usual sense of modern gaming alongside Dark Souls will likely raise a few eyebrows, as any online conversation seems to surround the mechanics and enemies of the game, not the lore. There are story fans, to be sure – but it’s the gameplay that drives players forward. However, while trailers for Dark Souls 2 have promised more death than ever before, cinematic spectacle isn’t exactly the selling point. But as this video shows, a scripted story might be one area in which Dark Souls and its sequel may differ.
However, just as the core gameplay concept is decided upon before any narrative, the story elements of DS2 won’t be dictating how players progress in the game, or in their sense of accomplishment. To make sure that gameplay comes first – even when talking story – it sounds as if the developers have studied how players will react to certain aspects of the game (possibly events), and have used that information to craft a story to go along with it. It’s a novel idea, and if executed as planned, one that more gameplay-driven games could take lessons from.
It’s particularly of interest to see actor Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead, Muppets Most Wanted) on hand to describe the addictive hook of the original Dark Souls (the actor was most recently seen in the first trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy). The video doesn’t explain if he’s present to lend his talents to the English version of the game, or simply support the notion that the game’s difficulty can “ruin other video games” for players. If he is providing a voice, then the nature and significance of the story hinted at is intriguing.
What do you hope to see from Dark Souls 2‘s story? Is it even a factor in your excitement, or is this a series that you crave for gameplay alone? Sound off in the comments.
Dark Souls 2 releases March 11, 2014 for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
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