Review - Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Ivory King DLC

Fans of Dark Souls 2 have ventured into the depths for the Crown of the Sunken King. They've ventured into the fires and ash for the Crown of the Iron King. In the latest DLC, players will venture into a frozen wasteland for the Crown of the Ivory King. We checked out the DLC on Xbox 360, courtesy of a review code sent by Bandai-Namco.
Accessing the area asks that you return to the Shaded Woods. Upon entering, a sprawling, frozen landscape unfolds before you, with a ruined castle standing guard amidst the driving winds and snow. Frozen Eleum Loyce is the weathered structure in question and the player maneuvers through areas that are punctuated by suffocating hallways and exposed battlements. And compared to the other two DLCs, the layout of the section in Crown of the Ivory King feels equal parts closed and open. Most of the area is very straightforward and doesn't really require much in the way of going off the beaten path so to speak at first. Once you get a certain item though, much of the area opens up in the way of ice thawing, providing the player with access to new ares and treasures.

The enemies in this area are a lot more specific than the other two DLCs. That is, there really isn't that much in the way of variety when it comes to encountering enemies, as most of them are simply soldiers who patrol the snow. They do offer differing styles of attack through their weapon choices and just about all of them are fond of throwing ice spears in your direction. Their position throughout the area is what makes them much more difficult, as many of your encounters with them are in the tight corridors of the castle. And because of the relatively small nature of the area, there's a LOT of repeating when it come to fighting the enemies, in that there are few bonfires scattered throughout which require the requisite try and try again mantra of Dark Souls. There's also some rather sinister hedgehogs who are reminiscent of Pinwheels and electric reindeers in a particularly aggravating side quest.

As far as bosses go, there are really only two. There's Aava, the King's Pet (as well as Lud and Zallen) and the Burnt Ivory King himself. Aava is required and falls into the giant animal fight category. Lud and Zallen are similar battles (with a slight twist thrown in for good measure), but getting to the latter two is definitely the bigger test. The Burnt Ivory King is a brilliant final fight though that screams co-op. There's a seemingly endless wave of knights storming the battlefield during your battle, prompting players to seek out summons to make the fight more manageable. Not only that, but there are also three Loyce Knights scattered throughout the area that will fight for your cause as well, making the final fight much easier and significantly less frustrating. There's nothing quite like storming the Old Chaos with four NPCs and two players fighting alongside you.

Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Ivory King DLC feels a little strange compared to the other two DLCs. It somehow combines the level design and shortcut aspect of Dark Souls with the look and feel of Dark Souls 2. Bonfires are commodities in the area, requiring the player to exhibit the trademark Dark Souls patience to navigate the dangerous areas. The battle with the Burnt Ivory King is extremely well-designed and feels very satisfying once you defeat him, giving fans of the franchise a rousing send-off. Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Ivory King DLC is a fond farewell to what is a fantastic game, giving players a little bit of everything Dark Souls in the sequel's swan song.

Crown of the Ivory King is available now for $9.99 on XBLA, PSN and Steam.