Dark Souls 2 reviews have started to go live ahead of the game's Xbox 360 and PS3 release in North America today and in Europe later this week.
In our Dark Souls 2 review, we called the sequel "a landmark action RPG that is unforgettable for so many reasons, not least its immensely deep challenge framed within a sprawling, beautiful world".
To give you a taste of what other critics thought, we've rounded up a number of review scores below, along with short excerpts from the verdicts.
- CVG: 10/10 - Its layers of depth, and colossal scope for challenge, community and discovery, is a gaming event of such impact it'll be referred to time and time again for years to come.
- GamesRadar: 4.5/5 - Dark Souls 2 is an incredible game, one that demands alert play and rewards perseverance. You will die many times in many ways, but push on and you'll find this to be an excellent sequel that not only captures the essence of the original, but is a memorable experience in its own right.
- Edge: 9/10 - Some of its ideas work better than others, and Drangleic is no match for Lordran's intricate design, but Dark Souls II is, like its predecessors, brilliant, beautiful, and absolutely essential.
- OXM: 9/10 - It changes the formula of its predecessor just enough to keep things interesting, yet retains the sense of spoon-fed accomplishment that keeps the dedicated coming back for more.
- GameSpot: 9/10 - I may not have yet unveiled all there is to know about this beastly game, even after 80 hours of play, but I do know this: I will be adventuring through Drangleic for many months to come, sure to be haunted nightly by the disturbing gazes of the faceless titans that tenderize my flesh with their two-ton hammers.
- IGN: 9/10 - Dark Souls II is a smart, massive, and incredibly rewarding sequel. It's crammed with deep systems, tense encounters, and enough clever multiplayer and New Game Plus elements to make me want to restart the second I saw the end credits.
- Eurogamer: 9/10 - Overall, Dark Souls 2 probably isn't quite the same masterpiece Dark Souls is, but then neither is anything else, and the fact it comes so close is remarkable.
- Game Informer: 9.75/10 - Dark Souls II respects you enough to assume you can figure things out, despite having perhaps lost some of these sensibilities by playing other titles that walk you through on tether from start to finish. It's only March, but Dark Souls II stands tall as a potential game of the year.
- Polygon: 9/10 - Dark Souls 2's smart tweaks and concessions brought out positive emotions even amidst the pain and exhaustion. It's still a stressful experience, but it's easier than ever to recognize the brilliance in those moments of triumph that make it more than worth the struggle.
- Destructoid: 9/10 - A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.
- IGN: 9.0 - Dark Souls II is a smart, massive, and incredibly rewarding sequel. It's crammed with deep systems, tense encounters, and enough clever multiplayer and New Game Plus elements to make me want to restart the second I saw the end credits. Not all of the tweaks and additions worked out for the best, but with such great enemies and levels to fight and explore, Dark Souls II made 60 hours of pain and agony so much fun they flew by in a heartbeat.
- The Escapist: 4.5/5 - A few of the first couple bosses could stand to be a bit more interesting, but these are ultimately just nitpicks. What could very well have felt like little more than a new New Game+ for Dark Souls manages craft another experience I'll happily sink hours and hours into.
- Kotaku: Yes - Reviewing this game took weeks off my life, leaving me sleep-deprived, stressed and sick. Meals were skipped and at most I slept 3 hours a night. But I beat it. I won. And that sense of accomplishment, that ability to look back and see a game as an actual journey, is the heart of what Dark Souls II is. I'll be damned if it was any other way.