Top Critic Average
Suitably self-contained and demonstrating some of the best level design in Dark Souls 2, Crown of the Sunken King suggests that FromSoft's DLC team may well be up to the daunting task of creating three essential add-ons.
All in all, this is a homerun for FromSoft, and with another two episodes to come, Crown of the Sunken King has set a benchmark of quality that, if matched by episodes two and three, will mark an excellent continuation to an already great title.
From Software went above and beyond with their Crown of the Sunken King DLC: invest in its tiny asking price, and you may find yourself getting just as much time out of it as you would a $60 game. But it's more than just the amount of content that makes this DLC irresistible—it's what From did with it. The amount of surprises and fresh ideas Crown has to offer should make any Souls fan salivate over the prospect of two incoming DLC packages developed (hopefully) with the same amount of thoughtfulness.
The versatility of Dark Souls' appeal is directly related to the adaptability of a strong willed player. The Crown of the Sunken King, Dark Souls II's first issue of downloadable content, engenders and engages this philosophy as well as any challenge in the proper game. In a certain light The Crown of the Sunken King actually does it better, employing different constraints and driving new ways to explore and appreciate Dark Souls II's finer details.
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.
Don't expect Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King to match up to Artorias of the Abyss, but it still offers a surprisingly deep and gratifying experience. While the boss selection is somewhat disappointing and context to why we're in the ancient land of Shulva seems to be missing, the inhabitants and hidden story behind Sinh and Yorgh will keep fans occupied until the rest of the Lost Crowns Trilogy is released.
Not that it takes a lot of arm twisting to get me to don my dented armour and delve back into the world of Dark Souls II, but Crown of the Sunken King's DLC is the perfect excuse to do so. The puzzles are a fun twist on the pre-existing formula, the temple backdrop is an interesting setting and the new monsters are a welcome challenge.
DSII remains a skilled, often clever impersonation of the game everyone wanted. But I can't see the point of teasing out its journey with ever more kings, dragons, and Havels. The more DSII overlaps with its predecessors, the less reason there is to play it at all.
For those that have yet to venture into Drangleic, this updated release might just be the best opportunity to jump in. Meanwhile, fans that have already conquered Drangleic may find it a convenient excuse to tackle it all once again.