IN SHORT: A lavishly produced 460-page hardcover tome with everything a Dark Souls II fan could want.
WHAT IT IS: Massive and beautifully bound, this collector’s edition guide for Dark Souls II not only includes a great deal of information about the game, but also sheds light on its sometimes nebulous background story. Many sections were written by gamers for gamers, with writing credits to Marcus Sanders and Franz von Eisenheim, otherwise known on YouTube as EpicNameBro and A German Spy.
WHAT IT IS NOT: As with many releases of this nature, it was written while the game was still being developed, resulting in some rushed elements. For example, there are an unusually high number of typographical mistakes in the guide. Fortunately, this doesn’t detract from the value of its content.
WHAT I THOUGHT: I love Demon’s Souls. I love Dark Souls. And I love Dark Souls II. Also, I probably spend more time than I should on YouTube watching videos related to these games. When I learned that the people behind two of my favorite Souls-related YouTube channels were working on the new guide, I had to check it out.
I do not regret this decision.
The guide is something special and awesome for two important reasons. One, it is packed with Dark Souls II lore. Two, it was partially written by two gamers who are near fanatical in their devotion to the Souls games.
For those not familiar with the Souls games, the stories can be … a bit hard to follow. Most of the information directly provided is vague, and the rest is even vaguer. A lot of story is delivered through environments, item descriptions, and other indirect methods. It also doesn’t help that some characters in the games have no idea what they’re talking about or are outright liars.
The Dark Souls II Collector’s Edition Guide sheds a light on all this. It provides bits of lore with every area, enemy, boss, and item. This is really great stuff for anyone who wishes to learn more about the backstory. It even includes a lore index so you can quickly find the bits of backstory you’re curious about. How cool is that?
The actual game strategies are top notch, particularly the boss strategies which discuss each move a boss has in detail. Enemies, covenants, items, world events. Really, everything is covered and it is covered very well. The maps are also very impressive and surprisingly easy to read, given how densely packed Souls games can be.
Now it’s not perfect. There are the occasional omissions. For example, the water in a certain boss arena rises during the fight, making the battle much more difficult if it drags out. Therefore, it’s best to deal with the boss quickly before this becomes an issue. This is not mentioned in the guide. There are also a significant number of spelling and grammatical errors. But really, it’s not enough to diminish my enjoyment of this guide.
If you are a fan of the series, are interested in the lore, or just want to sharpen your Souls skills, this is a fantastic guide that does it all in a lush hardbound package.
VERDICT: Strongly recommended.