A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Much of the gameplay involves traveling across dungeons and war-torn lands to fight against fantasy-like enemies, such as skeletons, demons, ghosts, and giant creatures. Even though the enemies are supposedly evil, you're doing a lot of violent killing in this game (and absorbing the souls of the fallen), so it doesn't offer a very positive message.
Positive Role Models
In the fictional realm of Drangleic, you play as an undead fighter who battles a wide variety of enemies. Although you're supposed to be fighting against evil forces -- zombies, skeletons, ghouls, giant rats, and other creatures -- you're a killing machine in this bloody game and out to devour their souls. Therefore, the Dark Souls II protagonist is not a good role model.
Ease of Play
As with its predecessor, Dark Souls II is a notoriously difficult game to play. Gamers should expect to perish multiple times throughout the adventure. The controls aren't too complicated, but the gameplay is challenging due to smart enemy creatures.
Violence & Scariness
Although not quite as bloody and gory as the Mature-rated Dark Souls, this Teen-rated sequel is still quite violent. Using a number of weapons -- swords, knives, and bows and arrows -- your undead hero kills thousands of creatures who cry out in pain, splash some blood, and fall to their deaths. Some cut-scene sequences also are violent and include, for example, a giant beheaded snake, a giant pool of blood, and a boss creature made up of hundreds of dead bodies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of the female creatures in the game partially shows her breasts, although hair somewhat covers her chest.
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The game has some moderate profanity including words such as "bastard," "damn," "hell," and "p---k."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dark Souls II isn't quite as gory as its predecessor, but it still focuses heavily on fantasy combat against a variety of creatures using all manner of deadly weapons. Set in the treacherous kingdom of Drangleic, the game has some blood and a little gore, plus a few potentially disturbing scenes, including a giant serpent holding its own severed head and an enemy comprising hundreds of human corpses. Dark Souls II also features some partial nudity, moderate profanity, and unmonitored online communication with other players. Older teens should appreciate the dark story line and fresh challenges, whereas younger kids may be overwhelmed by the unsettling imagery.
Is It Any Good?
With its dark atmosphere, thrilling combat, and memorable enemies, Dark Souls II ends up being just as gratifying as its predecessor. Rather than being kept on a short leash, this time you're rewarded for exploring all the spooky environments found throughout the land of Drangleic (picking up secrets and collectibles along the way), while the intense combat rewards you with weapon and armor upgrades, new skills, and other assorted goodies. Also, if you found the first game a bit too hard, you'll be pleased that Dark Souls II goes easier on you than its infamous forerunner, making for a less frustrating experience overall. (Note: Although it's rated Teen by the ESRB, there's still a lot of stuff here that may be too disturbing for younger players.) However, if you enjoy fantasy combat with great pacing, an enjoyably dark plot, and ultra-creepy boss fighters, Dark Souls II is worth your time and money.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.