Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King

Posted 8 years ago by Chris Carter

And that’s a wrap on the DLC

Dark Souls II was quite the ride. Although the game had its fair share of issues, I had a blast playing it, and a number of its zones now have a place in my list of all-time favorite Souls locations.

One of those areas includes the last piece of DLC, The Crown of the Ivory King, which brings back some of the powerful icy imagery from the Painted World of Ariamis.

Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Released: September 30, 2014
MSRP: $9.99 ($24.99 Season Pass)

Like the previous add-ons, you’ll have to access the DLC manually within the game — in this case, you’ll have to enter through the Shrine of Winter in the Shaded Woods. Without wasting a moment, Ivory King presents one of the most memorable openers for an area that I’ve ever seen in the series, alongside of a breathtaking snowy landscape. Although the engine has only taken baby steps from its predecessor, the art direction is phenomenal, and this is yet another area to ogle at while you’re taking a much-needed break.

The lore is a bit more in-your-face this time around, but never so much that it breaks the conceit of the Souls series and over-explains itself. You’ll get a neat bit of exposition, and even a final chat with a major player in the overarching story. It definitely has a different feel from the detached Sunken and Iron scenarios, and I enjoyed the attempt to unite Ivory with the core game. Just don’t expect an amazing conclusion — but that’s par for the course, really.

Enemies consist of an array of ice-centric creatures, with only one real “new” addition — a deadly porcupine-like thing. The good news is that the cast is varied in terms of forcing you to adapt strategies on a constant basis, which keeps gameplay engaging even if there aren’t a whole lot of fresh faces. Ideally though, I would have liked to have seen all-new enemies.

Here, it’s not so much how the enemies change things necessarily, but the environment, which is true of a number of zones in the franchise. While consistent in their design, Ivory King doesn’t really throw anything at you that you haven’t seen before with one exception. In addition to the claustrophobic corridors the DLCs are known for, there’s also one very open area that takes place in a low-visibility snowstorm. Much like the foggy woods before it, it can be the source of quite a bit of anxiety not knowing what to expect from any given angle.

Boss fights are a little more imaginative this time around — though still not what I’d call “classic” — with a confrontation against a tiger (Aava), and a foe called the Burnt Ivory King. The former battle has a bit of a twist to it that will stump players if they attempt to fight without fulfilling a certain requirement, which is a nice little devious extra. The King mostly just throws adds at you (which was fine a few times in Dark Souls II, but gets old fast) and delivers standard swordplay to boot, but the introduction and battle arena are more than worth the lack of bravado.

This is also one of the most difficult challenges yet in addition to the Iron King DLC — so much so that I’d make the claim that it’s easily up there with some of Demon‘s and both Souls games’ toughest portions. Difficulty doesn’t automatically make something good, but those who revel in it will enjoy seeing their talents put to the test.

None of Dark Souls II‘s DLC is particularly spectacular compared to what was already in the base game, but they are great companion pieces to the proper package. If you’re a diehard fan this is all you’re going to get until Bloodborne arrives, and with multiple playthroughs and New Game+ runs, odds are you’ll get your money’s worth. Everyone else who took a more casual approach to Dark Souls II should probably wait for a possible Game of the Year edition or a sale.

7.5

Good

Solid and definitely have an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.

Chris Carter
Reviews Director, Co-EIC - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!