Examining the Dark Souls II: ‘Aching Bones’ Trailer: Renewal Through Death
The level of fanaticism surround Dark Souls II is enough to bring a smile to even the most jaded gamer’s eye. The no-holds-barred gameplay, intriguing and implicit storytelling, and unforgettable characters made Dark Souls a cult phenomenon after its initial release. Thankfully, From Software took notice and has been working tirelessly on a sequel. Despite initial hesitations from fans, Dark Souls II director Yui Tanimura proved that his vision for the series is one that resonates strongly with diehard fans. While Dark Souls II won’t be the same as its predecessors, Tanimura-san has stated multiple times that DSII will continue on in the Souls series footsteps.
The newest trailer for Dark Souls II released last night. Entitled ‘Aching Bones‘, the two minute trailer served as a reminder to just how unforgiving the world of Dark Souls II will be. During the trailer, viewers are treated to a visual feast, as playable characters fight across a few different locations. Much of the ground that is covered in Aching Bones has been shown off before during other DSII related events, but a considerable graphical improvement seems to be apparent. What was the purpose of this trailer? Was it simply to entice players to pre-order Dark Souls II? Or perhaps it was to hype up DSII showings at TGS?
Upon closer inspection, Aching Bones keeps in line with the signature Souls series storytelling, and lives up to the Dark Souls II mantra of ‘Go Beyond Death’.
It is important to keep of the phrases highlighted above in mind when studying the trailer. Both ‘Aching Bones’ as well as ‘Go Beyond Death’ not only fit perfectly in line with the often punishing world of the Souls titles, but have a more significant meaning outside of sounding important. While little to nothing is known about the world, lore and story of Dark Souls II, operating with certain assumptions allows one to understand how death works withing the game. Similar – perhaps even the same – to Dark Souls, players will respawn at bonfires post their untimely deaths.
In Aching Bones, players are treated to the the harsh realities of Dark Souls II. Beginning with the iconic Warrior character, the trailer opens in full with combat against the now-infamous, heavily armored enemy from the E3 gameplay reveal. Showing the vastly improved Dark Souls II combat, Aching Bones has the Warrior meeting an untimely demise.
Death is an inevitablility in the Souls series and Dark Souls II will certainly be no different. It is not the death of the Warrior that is important in the trailer, but rather the next attempt. Upon the death of the Warrior, the bonfire becomes the trailer’s focal point. From the bonfire rises Dark Souls II’s magic-weilding class. With fireballs and magic-enhanced weaponry, the Mage rips through the enemies that felled the Warrior and continues on the path to his ultimate goal. Amidst slashing and magic, the Mage manages to destroy many foes.
Much like the Warrior, the Mage’s fate is sealed with death.
Impaled by a large foe’s blade, the Mage is survived by Dark Souls II’s most interest class – the Dual Swordsman.
The bonfire is no where to be seen upon the Dual Swordsman’s spawning, instead a statue featuring what seems to be the Warrior, blade in front of his face, placed on a simple pedestal. Perhaps, Dark Souls II will feature a second type of ‘bonfire’ – the pedestal will replace the traditional means of respawning, and found inside building related areas.
The Dual Swordsman fights with panache and agility, deftly defeating the foes that halted progress previously. His progress is halted, however, as he finds the trailer’s biggest enemy as the end. Cloaked in black robes and featuring a horned skull at the head, the large being fires purple magic down the long hallway as the Dual Swordsman attempts to cross. Despite the Dual Swordsman’s best efforts, after he closes the distance between him and his foe, he is no match in open combat. His death is brought on by a powerful magic attack, lifting him into the air and pulverizing him within seconds.
The Tower Knight is next. Making his first apperance since Demon’s Souls, the fan-favorite Tower Knight advances on the magic-wielder, eventually dropping to his knee in prayer and attacking with what seems to be a Lightening Spear a la Dark Souls, the Tower Knight’s assault is a sight to behold. Ultimately, he defeats the foe, utilizing a brutal backstab attack, impaling and slamming the enemy to his certain demise. The Tower Knight fights onward.
At first glance, this trailer seems straight forward enough. However, remembering the Aching Bones title brings certain truths to life. Each class, with the exception of the Tower Knight, is defeated – in a pretty horrific manner at that. Certainly, the bones of these characters ached until the moment they were no longer alive. This is where the game’s mantra of Go Beyond Death becomes important.
Aching Bones and past defeats are forgotten in Dark Souls II. Instead, the character chooses to soldier onward. If the trailer is to be taken at face value, it seems that switching between various weaponry and playstyles can be the key to success in many situations. It has not yet been elaborated on if this will be a staple feature of Dark Souls II, but basing assumptions off of the trailer, players will traverse through death in Dark Souls II, fighting through the pain and aching bones until victory is certain.
Dark Souls II makes no concessions, death is a fact of life.
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