With The Crown of the Iron King, Brume Tower reminds us that the core ethos of Dark Souls is about taking your time. It does this by having you traverse over a massive iron chain within minutes of arriving, allowing you to drink in the view of the surrounding ashen landscape – one which is so very far below you. So best to do it slowly.
Where Shulva made you feel the dark damp depths, Brume reminds you of how high you are, with airy vistas and bright architecture. The area is littered with light grey statue casualties including a strange creature that gives you a Smelter Wedge, an item that becomes essential to beating the DLC.
Once on Brume Tower, your task is laid out before you via gentle singing; a haunting melody from a deadly burning source. These Ashen Idols will need to be found and destroyed with smelter wedges in order to make the progression more comfortable further on in the area. On some occasions, the destruction of the ashen idols will make the surrounding enemies easier to take care of, especially one of the later major ones.
Once again, the simpler corridor structure of the main game has been put to one side, as you will be spending a lot of your time travelling the vertical as well as the horizontal, with magnificent structures serving as lifts as you journey further in. FROM Software’s imagination must have been on fire with the design of this level. It really is such a departure from what has gone before, and even escapes far enough away from the look of the iron keep in the main game.
The puzzle element returns, this time in the form of how you deal with your enemies as well as how you interact with your environment. There are several points in the game where a certain harmless enemy with explosive tendencies can be used to help you clear the way, a first for a Souls game as far as I can remember. A room full to the brim? Try chucking a firebomb for fun.
Those bull headed flame throwers you see? Try giving them a smack with your weapon and watch it flame grill the opposition. I should point out that the enemies in the DLC are new arrivals to the Souls world, with everything from club wielding, lava powered behemoths, to back stabbing magic lighting witch-type things, and even legless foes that crawl towards you and then explode.
It’s great to see that From haven’t recycled anything from the main game, as the three bosses are also refreshingly new. All the fights are straight toe to toe battles, which require different tactics to overcome, especially if you have not taken out the previously mentioned ashen idols for one of the encounters.
Yes. No recycling here. No taking my least favourite boss of the whole game and painting him a different colour – or giving him magic instead of fire. Absolutely none of that.
I almost said a rude word when I first saw that particular piece of work. Luckily that particular chap is optional, like the trio in the Sunken Crown DLC.
Invaders also make a return as well, with one taking an unusual course of action when the going gets tough. Again, it’s new, it’s different enough to show the team are really making an effort with the content. Those that have the patience to really explore Brume will be rewarded with additional equipment to help with the main world of Drangleic, and one of the weapons is set to become a firm favourite of mine.
Brume Tower is a contrast to Shulva in terms of its appearance, but also its difficulty. I found it easier to make progress through the ashen heady heights to the crown. It still follows the beaten path of taking one step at a time, slowly and carefully and again is a lesson to other developers how you do additional content correctly. It also helps to build excitement as to what sins the next part will contain.
VERDICT: FROM continues to surprise and amaze with the direction it is taking with the DLC. The Crown of the Iron King is a must have purchase for any Dark Souls 2 fan. With beautiful graphics and haunting sound, you would be daft to not take the trek up Brume.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.