Dark Souls 2 has long been the black sheep of the Soulsborne family, but I’ve never quite felt it was maligned for the right reasons. Sure, many fans criticized the boss quality and the level design, but there were ten different things in Dark Souls 2 that offended me beyond belief. I cannot overstate how deeply wounded, baffled, and serious I am about the following ten disastrous inclusions in Dark Souls 2.
1. The Pursuer boss hunts me in recurring nightmares
Despite The Pursuer being one of the earlier bosses in Dark Souls 2, I sure struggled with him on my first playthrough. What I struggled with even more, though, were the recurring nightmares of The Pursuer relentlessly hunting me down. Even now, years after I have vanquished this hovering hindrance, he continues to chase me in my dreams, zooming towards me at a terrifying speed and bellowing, “THERE’S NO BALLISTAS TO SAVE YOU NOW!” while I ineffectually slap at him with a broken straight sword. These nightmares certainly amped up the dread-drenched atmosphere of the game, but to a degree that was often too much for me to handle.
I’m not sure if developer From Software intended for their player base to suffer these nightmares, but I can’t say I appreciate it due to how much sleep I lost and how many sweaty sheets I had to change.
2. The Throne of Want wouldn’t be wanted by anybody
The main goal of Dark Souls 2 is to overcome the undead curse by ascending to the Throne of Want, but there’s no way in heck that anybody would want to sit on this throne. It’s carved entirely of stone, and there’s not a single cushion in sight! FromSoft clearly took a risk with this aesthetic design choice, and I’m ashamed to say that it did not pay off. If the entire narrative of the game is centered around wanting to sit in a chair, then that chair better look comfortable, and the fact that it doesn’t completely shatters my immersion.
3. “Drangleic” is an anagram for “Glide Narc” and I don’t know what that means
The Dark Souls series is known for its enigmatic and inscrutable lore, and Dark Souls 2 is no exception. Set in the decaying kingdom of Drangleic, it houses tragic tales and mysteries aplenty. Its greatest mystery, perhaps, is the name of Drangleic itself, which is, of course, a perfect anagram for Glide Narc. What could this mean? Is there some sort of in-game character that glides above you in the skies, constantly alerting the enemies to your presence? If so, how come I haven’t spotted this Glide Narc yet? Or does the Glide Narc exist in real life, and is he parachuting by my house right now and watching me? Should I be cowering deeper under my bed than I already am in order to avoid detection? I get that a large appeal of Dark Souls 2’s story is that is purposefully ambiguous, but I would have really appreciated a direct answer in this case, because I haven’t left my home in weeks and I really need to buy some groceries. That’s just what the Glide Narc wants me to do, though, so I’m not falling for it.
4. Some of the boss names are wildly inaccurate
Dark Souls 2 generally does a pretty good job at naming its bosses. The Pursuer pursues you, the Belfry Gargoyles guard a belfry and are gargoyles, and the Darklurker does indeed lurk in the dark. Tragically, not every deadly foe is so aptly labeled.
For example, The Lost Sinner could be considered lost in that dismal dungeon she hangs out in, but she’s not lost once you stumble into her boss arena, so she should be called The Found Sinner. Likewise, we never see the Dragonriders ride any dragons. They should have been called the Groundriders, or the Copy and Paste Content Bosses.
The Ancient Dragon boss is similarly inaccurately etymologized. Dark Souls 2 came out in 2014, so I would hardly say the dragon is ancient, as it only recently celebrated its fifth birthday. If From Software had exercised any attention to detail, they would have named this boss “Dragon That Starts Off As Very Young But Grows Older At A Fixed Rate”. That rolls off the tongue a lot better, anyway.
And as far as I can tell, the Royal Rat Authority is never proven to be a true authority on rats. There’s no rat-based diploma hanging on the walls of his boss room, and he doesn’t spout a single rat-related fact throughout the entire fight. He’s also clearly a canine and not a rodent, so he’s not an inherent authority on rodent identity, either! It’s this sort of laziness in boss design that really grinds my gears.
5. There’s a talking rat in Dark Souls 2 but rats don’t talk in real life
On the subject of rats, much of my Dark Souls 2 playthrough was spent conversing with the Rat King, a large rodent with a surprisingly sultry British accent. I spent many hours soaking in the deep, buttery voice of this tiny monarch, and I was fascinated by the depth this charismatic character contained. But when I attempted to converse with rats in real life, the best responses I received were a few panicked squeaks. I spent hours chasing rats through the subway, demanding them to “take me to their leader”, but unlike the grapes I used to lure the rats towards me, my results were fruitless.
I even tried talking to other rodents, but this only got me kicked out of the pet store for yelling at the ferrets. Thanks a lot, FromSoft.
6. The bosses can reach their hands through my television screen to smack me
While I understand Dark Souls 2’s commitment to demoralizing the player, I think allowing several of the bosses to transcend the laws of physics and thrust their fists through the television screen to smack me in the face takes this ideology just a little bit too far.
The worst case of this occurred when I fought the Old Iron King, whose windup on his attacks are laughably slow. The only people laughing after he forced his arm through my TV screen and walloped me directly on the sneezer, however, were my friends, who still bring this embarrassing incident up today. And speaking of embarrassing incidents…
7. The lore calls me out for eating half of a Tickle Me Pink crayon in the first grade
As many issues as I have with Dark Souls 2 as a whole, I don’t really mind the lore of the game, albeit with one exception. Much of the game’s story is told through item descriptions, and the description of the Old Candle item reads: “A pink candle that allows entry into a forgotten facility. When Cole was in the first grade, he consumed half of a Tickle Me Pink crayon on a dare from his classmate, Jimmy Ruggins. Although he swiftly regurgitated the portion of the crayon he consumed, the other half of the instrument was later melted down and repurposed into this candle.” Frankly, I just don’t see how this is relevant to the rest of Dark Souls 2. This is the only time I am mentioned in the entire game and it has no real impact on the overall story, so its inclusion here seems more cruel than necessary.
This is particularly frustrating because the Old Candle is required to unlock the Abandoned Crayola Factory level, which houses one of the game’s best bosses: Ra’inbow, the Living Wax. So any player worth their souls will inevitably encounter this shameful tale from my childhood, and anytime I want to experience one of the better parts of Dark Souls 2, I’ll have to relive this trauma. I suppose it’s just another bitter crayon for me to swallow.
8. Dark Souls 2 isn’t Galápagos, a novel by Kurt Vonnegut
While some might have accused From Software of “being unoriginal” or “blatantly plagiarizing another person’s work”, I would have applauded the decision to make the sequel of Dark Souls into a novel. As far as novels go, Galápagos is a great read: it manages to be laugh out loud funny while still being profound, and I would have loved an excuse to revisit such an exemplary work when Dark Souls 2 debuted in March of 2014.
Unfortunately, I’m still unable to do so because I lent my only copy of Galápagos to Jimmy Ruggins, my previous prankish peer from the first grade. It’s been eight years and Dr. Ruggins still hasn’t returned my book. Yeah, the dude’s a doctor now, yet he isn’t organized enough to return my copy of Galápagos. Given our history, it’s no stretch to suggest foul play. Either way, I really need to stop trusting that guy, and I need to stop trusting that video game companies will steal the work of a renowned published author.
9. An android version of Nashandra won’t stop harassing me in real life
We all know that Dark Souls 2 had a troubled development cycle, and I think I’ve finally cracked the case on why. The game’s main antagonist is Nashandra, a woman who convinces the king of Drangleic to attack a race of giants in their homeland (this was all for her own malevolent purposes, of course). Well, it seems that in a misguided attempt to hype up Nashandra as a force to be reckoned with, From Software blew about half the game’s budget constructing a fully sentient android version of her (pictured above).
Unfortunately, it seems that this android, who from here on out I shall refer to as Nashandra-Bot, eventually went rogue, and Nashandra-Bot now spends most of her time knocking on my front door and urging me to invade the Land of Giants to steal their treasure. While I do respect the marketing team’s vision in this instance, I can’t praise their execution, because Nashandra-Bot keeps me up all hours of the night with her yammering of “steal the treasure” this, and “kill the giants” that. On the bright side, if Nashandra-Bot prevents me from sleeping, at least I won’t have any more nightmares about The Pursuer.