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Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (PlayStation 3) artwork

Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (PlayStation 3) review

"You won't spend seasons in this abyss, but that's okay."

Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (PlayStation 3) image

There are two complaints I have about the Dark Souls downloadable expansion Artorias of the Abyss. The first one is that it's needlessly tricky to get its quest line off the ground.

It might feel at first that you've dropped $10 into this DLC pack for naught, as you you there won't be any noticeable shifts in terrain or apparent indications of where the party starts. It's only through dumb luck or Google that you might discover the entrance to the new stages, located behind the hydra in Darkroot Basin. That, of course, requires offing the multi-headed nuisance, not to mention toppling a Golden Crystal Golem after that. Doing so liberates Dusk of Oolacile, who appears, speaks, and vanishes. O....kay....?

You must then travel to an arbitrary part of the Duke's Archive and scotch another random golem in order to receive an item that opens a gateway to the extra content. How you would know to do this is beyond me. In other words, you now have to pad or warp all the way back to the basin, return to the hydra's former stomping (er, slithering?) grounds, and enter a worm hole to access the extra content. Rest assured, it's all uphill from here!

Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (PlayStation 3) image

The first couple of areas are filler, though. You enter a "sanctuary" that acts as as a containment unit for the first boss: Sanctuary Guardian, an angelic manticore like something from a power metal album cover. It's a decent primary fight against a creature who isn't exceedingly tough, but will test you just the same. His swift movements and lightning breath can easily fell anyone who isn't either a speedy warrior with mad dodging skills or a massively overpowered tank with plenty of Estus swigs.

After that wild battle concludes, you head through one just about empty region and then into the Royal Wood, where scarecrows and axe-wielding maniacs keep you on your toes. It's a worthwhile level for anyone seeking a challenge, not to mention that bits of a new suit of armor await you there. It's also a realm that holds two incredibly exciting boss battles that make this DLC worth purchasing.

Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (PlayStation 3) image

Pushing through the apparent rail in the forest takes you to Knight Artorias himself, corrupted by the evil of the abyss. The man is quick as lightning and as powerful as any honorable armor-clad warrior ought to be. He also has a buff that increases his agility and strength to ridiculous proportions, though you can interrupt it. Just the same, it's a rough battle and a worthy addition to the Dark Souls experience, not to mention that it's an emotional confrontation. By this point, you should have received a little background info regarding Artorias and his fellow knights, at least enough to know you're up against one of the "good guys" turned heel through unfortunate circumstances. There's also an NPC who appears after you've put the boss on ice that makes the encounter all the more stirring...

Perhaps the greatest part about this expansion, though, comes some time after you've killed Artorias. A thorough search of the next level, Oolacile Township, gives you a crest key. With that in your inventory, you can activate a string of events that's difficult to figure out by accident. Doing so lands you in a horrendous, heart-pounding bout against easily the greatest boss in the entire game, Black Dragon Kalameet.

Yes, Kalameet is hard. So is the rest of Dark Souls. Yes, Kalameet is beatable, even if you're a tank. I should know, because I tanked against the creature and won. He has a recognizable set of pattern-based attacks that hearken back to old school boss encounters, where you really had to pay attention to a villain's movements and telegraphs, and respond properly. I will tell you that thanks to this altercation, I didn't miss the $10 I dropped on this package. I'm not even saying this because of the battle's spoils either, which consist of a ring that disadvantages you without a single kickback.

Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (PlayStation 3) image

Eventually, you'll plunge into the darkness below the aforementioned city, where you'll meet myriad wraiths and off-screen shooters until you've reached the bottom of the chasm. There you'll face the add-on's final offering...

You may have noticed that I've only voiced one of my two complaints. Well, here's the second gripe: the quest line terminates with an anticlimax. After two fantastic boss fights, you engage in one that has been built up to be grander than it actually is. I'm not saying that the final boss of Artorias of the Abyss isn't a jaw-jacker in his own right; he most certainly is. However, I took him out more quickly than the previous three, all so I could get an "ending" that caused me to say, "So that's it, huh?" There isn't even much of a reward to be had, either, except that you gain a few souls and some items that won't aid you much unless you sport a particular build. More than anything, this expansion feels like it's all about bragging rights and a means to give people who love boss encounters (like myself) the chance to experience some of the hairiest brawls From Software has to offer. Not that I'm complaining about that...

Unlike many other expansion packs for modern games, Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss is worth every dollar. Never mind that it typically costs about half the price of new copy of Dark Souls. It's not about the quantity of the content so much as about the quality, and in that sense Artorias of the Abyss blows many other letdown expansions violently out of the water.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (September 04, 2015)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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