Welcome to See Drangleic, an episodic playthrough journal exploring the world of Dark Souls II. Be sure to check out the introduction post first if you haven’t already, otherwise continue reading for Part 21 which explores Shrine of Amana.
“When we sing, the little ones dance. The little ones grant comfort to those who bear death and Dark.”
What can one say about the Shrine of Amana? That this is the most commonly loathed area in the entirety of Dark Souls II probably doesn’t say enough.
About the most positive thing you can say about this infamous place is that it’s not just another breezy section of filler. There are some flavourful hidden alcoves for those who are keen on exploring and overall it’s not ugly to look at. The action takes place in a sunken ruin where luminescent plants grow unchecked and a soft sound of singing drifts through every passageway. If it wasn’t for the presence of certain aggravating enemies and other pitfalls, you’d swear that the place would be rather charming.
The Amana Priestesses are responsible for most of the frustration. These are enemies who shoot homing spells at any player they can see and they have tremendously good eyesight; sometimes able to snipe targets from clear across the map. Things aren’t too rough when you’re up against a single Priestess, only you’ll very rarely encounter them one at a time. If you’re a dedicated fighter then you can expect to be pelted to death by spells before even moving into melee range. The Priestesses also make ideal teammates for their fellow Archdrake Pilgrims whose sturdy bodies and wide halberd swings do an excellent job of zoning players into the mobility-sapping water.
Whilst an official patch brought a welcome nerf to their homing capabilities, the Amana Priestesses remain a pain to this day and that’s in part due to the remastered release where FromSoftware added even more of the gals! It’s not exactly fun to spend twenty minutes sniping every distant enemy with a crossbow and yet that tends to be the only way through Shrine of Amana without incurring a massive headache.
I can remember my first playthrough of Dark Souls II going relatively smoothly before reaching this area whereupon I fell prey to the homing soul arrows numerous times. It was a different kind of frustration trying to avoid so many infernal projectiles and I can remember quitting the game early that day just to abate my sour mood!
It’s a feeling that wasn’t particularly helped by the boss battle. The art style here is noteworthy and I do like how the area-wide sound of singing is actually being performed by this grotesque amphibian which is simply trying to lure another meal towards itself. At this late point in the game though, the Demon of Song is too humdrum to impress. The fight itself is too easy with the only real rough spot being the boss’s overpowered breath attack that can sometimes cause an instant knockout on squishier player characters. The dreary music isn’t especially thrilling either.
When taken as a whole, there are few who would argue that Shrine of Amana represents a negative playing experience. It has always been the area that draws the most sighs during my repeat playthroughs and even though prior knowledge goes a long way towards easing the pressure from so many annoying enemies and concealed drops into nothingness, it arrives at a point where some players will be growing weary of the whole thing.
I briefly mentioned this during my post on Drangleic Castle; that the late game is where Dark Souls II starts to get a bit tedious and Shrine of Amana certainly fits that description. When playing the game for the first time alongside my brother I can remember this being the time where he simply lost interest and abandoned his playthrough altogether. And as we leave this water world behind us, I’m given pause to think of the other players who didn’t make it this far.
In the next chapter we’ll be venturing even deeper underground as we finally make our way to the royal crypt where King Vendrick awaits us.
Continue to Part 22 »