Dark Souls II

Common Sense Media says

Despite loads of fantasy violence, this tough RPG impresses.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

One of the female creatures in the game partially shows her breasts, although hair somewhat covers her chest.

Language

The game has some moderate profanity including words such as "bastard," "damn," "hell," and "p---k."

Privacy & safety

Dark Souls II can be played online with other players, and gamers can freely talk with one another. In other words, players might be exposed to profanity or other inappropriate or hateful comments, as there's no one monitoring these conversations.

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. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

DARK SOULS II is the highly anticipated sequel to one of the most notoriously difficult role-playing games (RPGs) in recent memory. This Japanese-made adventure definitely includes some of the series' hallmarks: third-person action, unrelenting enemies, eerie labyrinths to explore, and epic boss battles. But there's lots of fresh content too: a new undead hero, an updated story line, advanced graphics, and both cooperative and competitive multiplayer support. Along with many weapons to master, Dark Souls II includes lots of customization options, unlockable moves, and various soul-sucking skills to use against enemy ghouls, zombies, giant rats, and the like.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Is fantasy violence such as this tame by today's standards -- enough to net a Teen rather than a Mature rating? As Common Sense Media lists here, other role-playing games (RPGs) have considerably less violence, blood, and gore.

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
Price:$49.99 to $59.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Namco Bandai
Release date:March 11, 2014
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
ESRB rating:T for Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Violence (PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of Dark Souls II was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byPvt. Sokolva May 22, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Overcoming Difficulty through strategy, practice, and perserverance

This game has the ability to change the way you think and play about games in general. It challenges its players on a strategic and thoughtful level. Though it has fantasy violence, the violence is never senseless and meaningless, and the death is not absolute or game ending, nor is it simply a minor setback. Though it may certainly be too frusterating for some children (as it is frusterating for many adult players as well) there is a great reward in this game for sticking to it and perservering through adversity. Firstly, it sucks you into this strange and dangerous world that is nevertheless beautiful despite all its darkness. In fact, it is perhaps because of this game's great darkness and difficulty that when you stumble upon a patch of beauty, or respite, you feel so rewarded and like you have achieved something. I may even raise my children and have them play this game when the time is right as a kind of test, to see whether they can overcome challenges by discovering and creating their own strategy and methods. I disagree that this game has no positive role models or messages. Just because you are not beat over the head with these messages does not mean that their subtlety makes them any less valid. Courage is rewarded in this game, but foolishness and greed is certainlly punished. If you rush through thoughtlessly you will soon be killed and lose all your souls, quickly learning that being careful and sizing up a situation is far better than jumpin in. That said, sometimes you need to take a risk to be rewarded with an amazing weapon or item, and you are taught through this that risks are in fact a kind of test, to see whether you can overcome the danger and deserve the reward. Is this not a positive and realistic message? Also, the world of drangleic is a once prosperous kingdom and is only dangerous and crumbling because of the actions of the rulers of the world, who treated its people badly and was torn apart by war and greed. Yet despite this, those who have managed to survive persist and attempt to find their own kind of happiness and survival in the world. Some characters, though embittered, are very brave and will open up to you and help you in times of need if you take the time to talk to them and hear their stories. Others will come to your aid simply because they are friendly and will cover your back if you cover theirs, and befriend you. You have to put effort into these characters in order to find out about their lives, and the more you put into it, the more reward you get, both in the storyline, and through gifts and aid they give you. Another valuable part of this game I would say is the online community. Because there is no voice chat in the game there are no opportunities for innappropriate or hurtful exchanges between players, nor will the child be exposed to inappropriate pictures from other players. It cuts down on much of the bad parts of the community in this simple way and encourages the good. There are many, many players in this game who leave their signs upon the ground so that they can be "summoned" into the players world, simply to help them. This fosters good will between complete strangers, and you can beat difficult bosses together without even exchanging a word, simply waving and bowing to each other to communicate your intent. In addition to this, many of the online aspects encourage the player to help out other players, as this rewards them and also gives them a good feeling of having helped out another player and returning the favor of the experienced players that helped them make it through the world. Overall, I believe this game to be a very valuable experience for an older child, around 12 or older, to undertake. I wouldn't go to much younger simply because of the complexity of the game, and perhaps the violence and sometimes dark and scary atmosphere of the game. For a child that can handle these, however, I would give me full recommendation, and I think children, adolescents, and adults alike can all benefit and have amazing fun playing this beautiful and challenging game.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byWAR567 March 20, 2014
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

NICE

What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written bykniroid April 5, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Violence does not affect the quality of games!

Firstly, I just wanna say that violence of video games almost never affects their quality, and I really wish that common sense would understand this. Movies like the god-father a filled with violence, and are masterpieces. That being said, this game is wonderful. The tense combat sequences encourage finding the best method of slaying a beast without being hurt, so this game serves as a problem solving tool as well (although keep in mind its not designed to be that). Even the story itself ends up being a puzzle, but in a very good way. There can be as much story as you want there to be if you pay attention, or no story at all if you dont really care. The only swear words I have so far heard used are "Pr**k" and "B***tard". The biggest reason I suggest an older audience play this is the simple fact that it is hard. dying sees' you drop all of your EXP/money, and if you fail to retrieve it without another death, it is gone forever. Younger children wont cope with this well, and even I at the ripe age of 15 find myself getting a tad angry with how hard the game can be. But its difficulty is justified, and beating a boss is a very satisfying and rewarding event that leaves the player feeling on top of the world.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools