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Dark Souls II

R13: violence and horror scenes

Spoiler alert

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.

Dark Souls II poster

Date registered: 14/01/2014

About the game

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.

Gameplay - player, stuck with arrows, falls to his knees in a desolate landscape

Classification criteria: Horror

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.

Gameplay - fighting the winged demon

Classification criteria: Violence

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.

Gameplay - killing an enemy with your sword

Decision summary

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.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R13 label
R13: violence and horror scenes