A bridge stretches across a black abyss. After felling armed demons intent on my demise, striking cowardly archers too scared to fight in close, I reached my final destination. I crept slowly across its uneven surface, carefully stepping over swollen corpses as I approached an imposing stone wall standing before me. My next step into the unknown would soon commence. I needed only to find the switch that would move the obstacle blocking my path. I searched the tiny alcove at the end of the bridge, struggling to find anything to interact with. After admitting defeat, I lashed out at the door, crossing my fingers that a hidden path would appear. No luck. I backtracked, scurrying across that lengthy bridge once more, and then entered nearby crypts. Did I miss a key the first time through? Empty-handed, I ran back and forth, trying in vain to find a way to continue onward, until I accidentally plummeted off a ledge.
The Crown of the Sunken King is the first piece of downloadable content for Dark Souls II, part one of a trilogy called The Lost Crown. Normally, if I encounter an abrupt ending in a prerelease demo, I shrug it off. If the game isn't finished yet, why would I care if it's impossible to reach the end? But Dark Souls demands a different thought process. This is a series known for being evasive about even basic information, so it made sense that I would have to perform some feat of daring to unbar my path. However, I don't know if that's the case. The Namco representative nearby had no answer to give, so I can only wonder if that was a mistake or something the Souls community will have to come together in July to solve.
My other major takeaway was how difficult Dark Souls II is when you're given a build that you're not familiar with. I love lithe characters who can strike multiple times and then roll away before an enemy can retaliate. Shields aren't even necessary with such a tactic because I'm so hard to hit. But in this demo, I was stuck with a slow-moving beast of a man with a zweihander and an equally large mace. My long sword and shield were broken (without a blacksmith in sight), so I was unprepared for the dangers that I would soon face. I don't know how people play Dark Souls with the slow, powerful types, and I'm glad I have the option to make something more to my liking.
Sadly, there wasn't much to the demo that was worth talking about. Unlike Artorias of the Abyss (Dark Souls' lone DLC), which thrust you into a hectic boss fight from the beginning, then pushed you through a forest teeming with monsters to another intense battle, Sunken King is little more than a typical stretch of Souls action. Now, that's a good thing, because Dark Souls is one of my favorite franchises in existence. However, fighting one enemy type along narrow crevices was hardly noteworthy. I'm crossing my fingers that something fascinating will emerge if I get deeper into the adventure, but in my short time with the game, I left feeling slightly deflated.