Demon's Souls really established FromSoftware's reputation as a developer that wants to take your sense of hope and gnaw on it using the jaws of zombified rats. Dark Souls, the game's spiritual successor, took that and ran with it. Now the developer is back once again with a sequel in both name and spirit.
The game features a new world, new storyline and an unfamiliar world steeped in death and despair. Expect the same uncompromising difficulty, the same epic boss battles and the same incredible sense of empowerment that comes with triumphing against the odds as the first game. Don't, however, expect something quite so straightforward as a re-skinned version of Dark Souls.
The game's online has been made a little more approachable this time out. Voice chat is now supported and by aligning yourself with certain in-game gods you'll be able to summon friends to help you lay waste to whatever particular beast is challenging your will to live.
You can also now travel between bonfires right from the outset of the game and the health system is a little more forgiving, with life gems complementing the flasks of the last game. Don't despair that FromSoftware has gone soft, however, as you'll lose a little more of your life bar every time you die.
The world is perhaps not quite so bleak as those of past games, but it does offer up its own sights to bear witness to. An eerie village sits at the sea shore, with desperate locals trying to pedal their wares, while a tangled, ruined castle lurks at the heart of the forest.
So, Dark Souls II is not quite the same beast as the first game. Did anyone want that, though? It's still a fiendishly difficult game set in a rich, brutal fantasy world. And there's still plenty of dying to be done.