Speaking as a seasoned loser of Souls, playing the first two hours of Dark Souls 2 doesn't provide the culture shock of the previous two games. Demon's Soulsbellows its cruelty by killing you mercilessly within minutes of starting, whileDark Souls literally sends you round in a circle like some kind of sick joke, but there isn't something in the opening of From's latest action-RPG that screams out "I am what Dark Souls 2 is!" Not that this is a bad thing.

If there is something that defines the opening beyond its genetics, it's a new attention to accessibility. Yet that DNA of slow, torturous exploration remains encouragingly unscathed.