R13: violence and horror scenes
This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this game.
Date registered: 14/01/2014
Dark Souls II is an action adventure role-playing video game set in a dark fantasy world. Afflicted with a terrible undead curse, the player takes a portal to the in-between world of Drangleic in the hope of finding a cure.
Played from a third-person perspective, the player explores decrepit ruins and windswept landscapes whilst avoiding traps and defeating deadly enemies.
The game deals with matters of horror to a large extent but limited degree. The cursed player explores ruined environments scattered with emaciated and rotting corpses. Grotesque creatures stalk cavernous halls and skeletal warriors wait in shadowed corners. Enemies include horror inspired fare such as winged demons and spectral ghouls.
Dark Souls II depicts the infliction of serious physical harm to a high extent and limited degree. Each sword slash on an enemy releases a spray of blood but this quickly disappears and there is no injury apparent. Corpses remain in the environment until the player leaves the area but no further injury can be inflicted. Combat is complex, with enemies using specific patterns of movement, requiring prediction and knowledge in order to overcome the odds. The fantasy setting also reduces the impact of the violent material, with the game bearing little resemblance to reality.
Dark Souls II is a challenging and engaging game set in a bleakly beautiful world. The player's quest leads them through many dangerous encounters with fantastical creatures, allowing for regular depictions of horror and violence. The game's focus on repetitive combat would prove disturbing to children and has the potential to desensitise them towards the use of violent behaviour in real life. In addition, the horror elements present in the game would be likely to frighten children. As a result, the unrestricted availability of the publication would be injurious to the public good.
However, teenagers and adults are able to place the above material within the game's dark fantasy context. The above harms are balanced against the right to freedom of expression as set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Placing a restriction on the availability of the publication to teenagers and adults is the lowest reasonable restriction which could be applied in order to prevent injury to the public good.
Therefore Dark Souls II is classified as objectionable except if the availability is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 13 years.
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