|>>|| No. 22103
>I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd simply levelled up a lot faster than I should've done
You can't really over-level too much in the Souls games, beyond a certain point they'll just beat you down if you start getting sloppy no matter what level you've got to. If you found it easier as you went on that's probably a sign that you were grasping the mechanics, which are not particularly well-explained and are not intuitive (i-frames during rolling, etc). Gwyn is notoriously easy - the developers admitted that leaving his attack parryable was an oversight, so if you've got any skill with shield parrying the fight is utterly trivial, and even if you don't, if you've got past the previous bosses he shouldn't give you much trouble. There's a lot of apologia in the fanbase about it, people coming up with all sorts of head-canon "lore" nonsense to explain why he's such a pushover, but honestly I reckon that (along with the last few levels of the game) he was basically just a rush job.
Ornstein and Smough are hard if you've got help, and are an absolute cunt if you're on your own and trying to fight them with weapons rather than magic (my first time through I ran out of humanities on a light, close-range melee build... that took a few goes). In general I think the Souls games are at their weakest (design-wise) when they throw multiple powerful enemies at you; the elegance of the combat system is chucked right the fuck out of the window and it descends into a messy free for all. If I wanted that I'd play DMC or Bayonetta or something where the combat system has obviously been designed for it.
DS2 is the black sheep of the Souls games, being largely designed and developed by a different team at Fromsoft. Fans of DS1 used to give it a hard time but the hate seems to have died down now and most people recognise it's a decent game. It doesn't have the intricate, interwoven level design of the first game, more like a few branches, but that suits me fine as I've got no sense of direction and spent half my time with DS1 getting hopelessly lost. DS2 is still less linear than DS3, which really is A->B->C etc. I think 2 might be my favourite of the trilogy, the combat is a happy middle ground between DS1's cumbersome, highly methodical mechanics and DS3's (Bloodborne-esque) endless stamina for rolling and rapid attacks. Stick with it, it's rewarding.