Common knowledge has always stated that companies make sequels for money, and people buy them because they loved the first so much that they'll take even the shadow of its former self. Very few sequels follow in their predecessor's footsteps, and instead often borrow only game play and present new worlds, characters, and plots to keep things fresh. (Let's drop some names: "Fallout 3," "Bioshock: Infinite," and every new generation of Pokémon.) After all, why would you pay for the same adventure twice? Fresh takes are how to keep a series alive. But sometimes gamers long for a taste of the original, even knowing how impossible it is to relive the same game without feeling like you've already been through this before and wishing it were more interesting. Enter Dark Souls II, which has struck the perfect balance.
Sure, some things are different. The processes of Humanity and Hollowing are handled differently, four classes have been removed and two new ones have been added, enemies stop re-spawning eventually and the ever-hilarious invasions are now timed.
But Dark Souls II, if you'll pardon the low-hanging pun, still contains the very soul of the first game. The world is the same. The idea of running around to wherever you please and piecing the story together on your own is the same. The lack of sexualized armor if you play as a female character is the same (and thank you). And, just as before, the game allows no mistakes or rash decisions, and the enemies are so tough that the air still fills with the same furious cries of "How is that even possible?"
Dark Souls II has given us everything we wanted in a sequel: new adventures, but full retention of the original feel and enough familiarity that we feel at home. Like returning to an old friend. An old friend that will kill us thousands of times.