on 20 August 2010
It's hard to think of another game which is as innovative and yet old-school, so punishing and yet open-ended, so brief and yet expansive as Demon's Souls is. It has been called everything from the best PS3 game to the hardest RPG ever, and having now earned the Platinum trophy over 75-odd hours, I'm inclined to agree with all the praise that has been heaped on this wonderful game.
My single favourite aspect is the combat. There's nothing quite like clashing with a tough enemy with a tight defence, rebuffing their attacks whilst waiting for an opportune moment to counter or parry. There are literally dozens of weapons in the game, from rudimentary swords, bows, spears and so on through to mighty blades which cleave the sky in twain. That every foe can, at the outset, defeat you if you let your guard down adds to the tension and makes every single battle intense and fraught.
You collect souls from each enemy you defeat, and these can then be traded for upgrades, items and weapons. However, should you die, you're returned to the start of the level, all enemies respawn and you lose accumulated souls, which languish where you died, awaiting to be re-collected (until you die again, then they're gone). It's a perfect risk/reward system, and the game thrives on careful play and forward planning. Most levels aren't particularly big, but with the number of enemies populating them, they can easily each take over an hour to complete. Luckily the game autosaves continuously, so if you do need to switch off mid-level you can do so and return later with no punishment. Shortcuts are also available in most levels, so huge chunks can be cut out if necessary, and these are permanently unlocked once activated.
Playing the game comes in two flavours - body form (nothing to do with ladies' hygiene) and soul form. You start the game in body form, but upon dying you come back in soul form - with half health (although kind of ¾ health really), and you must beat the level's boss, help out another player online or use an item to get back your body. There are different events which happen depending on what you do (far too much detail to go into here), such as meeting particular characters and unlocking hidden areas. To get the most out of the game you really need to use the Demon's Souls Wiki, but save that for subsequent play throughs.
The online modes are incredible. Basically, you can co-op with two other soul form players as well as get involuntarily invaded by another player, who will regain their body if they defeat you. Aside from this, players can post prescribed messages all over the game, so you might find out how to beat a boss, or use it to warn others of a trap or tough enemy. You can also see other players' last few seconds before death, which can help prepare you for the trials ahead.
The bosses are so good they deserve a mention all of their own. They range from twisted humans to massive deformed beasts, but most of them have a unique quirk, and beating them is a battle of attrition, skill and dexterity. Nothing is left to chance in this game and the bosses are perfectly balanced, and deserve to be remembered alongside the likes of Shadow of the Colossus or Zelda for its incredible and memorable confrontations.
Lastly, I suppose the difficulty needs a mention. Demon's Souls is a hard game, but most of it comes down to common sense, and most deaths come from avoidable player mistakes. Proceeding slowly, keeping your shield up and learning the level as you advance is the best tactic, and once you complete the first couple of levels, you'll have somewhere to grind for souls, which makes it all a bit more manageable until such a time as you can tackle the tougher enemies and levels. Patience and perseverance are definitely needed, but the game gets easier as you level up, get better equipment and learn the enemies.
Demon's Souls is an amazing game that embraces the new whilst keeping in touch with the aspects that made the 8- and 16-bit era so memorable. There aren't many games like it on PS3 - a third-person action RPG with an emphasis on combat and dungeon crawling, and with enough depth to rival the mightiest RPG - but it's so good that it sits up near the very top of the PS3 tree and occupies a niche all to itself. If you have patience, like a challenge and lament the lack of RPGs this generation, you owe it to yourself to buy this game.
on 12 November 2013
Like many (I suspect) I came to Demon's Souls having first played and fallen in love with its successor, Dark Souls. Despite large differences, which generally reveal the earlier game's roughness, the two games share the same design values and evoke the same feelings.
If you've already been won over by Dark Souls, then you're probably only wondering whether Demon's Souls will quench your thirst for more of the same. It will.
If on the other hand you're coming to the series fresh, then it's important to know that it won't be a welcoming experience: I had to come back to Dark Souls twice after putting it down out of exhaustion and frustration before things started to click, and you'll probably find the same during your first playthrough of either game. I would say the difficulty is only one of two reasons why these games are for the hardcore; the second is that in order to give them the dedication they need, you have to *want* to be part of the club. You have to hate the idea that you're missing out on something special. You mustn't be comfortable with playing easy games that you can pick up, take your quick fix of escapism, and put down again. If that's why you play games, fine, but the Souls games aren't for you.
If on the other hand you're one of the former camp, you'll love these games once you learn how to play them: cautiously, with concentration, and your heart in your throat with the tension of it all. Dark Souls is, in my view, superior: the boss fights are better-designed and more challenging, the world layout is more intuitive and less frustrating without being too much easier, and it's more polished and more beautiful both mechanically and visually. That said, Demon's Souls delivers the same sensation - albeit in a rawer way - and will ultimately satisfy newcomers and veterans alike. Though surpassed by its successor, it's still one of the best games of this console generation.
on 14 October 2011
Without going into too much detail, Demon's Souls is by far one of the greatest games I have come across. Many months ago, I was a bit reluctant to buy it after having purchased many games in a short time span, but I was very glad when I finally purchased it.
The game is challenging, but not too challenging. Learning the ways of the enemy is key in helping you progress. Leveling up using souls you have collected can make you withstand more hits, carry more items, have increased stamina or cast more spells, but picking a base class at the start of the game doesn't limit you to what you can do.
Dying, will no doubt happen very often, but that isn't the end of the game. It actually helps you because it allows you to learn from your mistakes. If you die, you lose your souls, your means of leveling, your currency for trade, etc, but if you can manage to make it back to your blood stain, then you can reclaim the souls you lost. If you die on the journey to your blood stain though, you lose the last lot of souls you were trying to reclaim and drop any you had picked up on the way. You can however, travel to that last place to pick those up, collecting more souls along the way, but if you die, the cycle continues.
There are 5 worlds, but multiple levels within each and though I haven't had the game long, it is not linear, in the sense that you have to complete each world, from 1-5. You will need to play through World 1 - Level 1 and defeat the first boss, after which you are free to roam all of the other worlds in any order you please. You will likely find yourself replaying the same levels a few times over, but this isn't boring because you may have to go back to find other paths or things you have missed, which in turn can provide you with more demon's souls, extra NPCs in which to buy from, or information which can prove useful in your progression. The game isn't obvious either. The levels themselves may seem linear in structure, but the path to progression is not simple. You can end up finding it difficult to proceed through locked zones, but when you finally get round to doing so, the satisfaction of your achievement is well worth the effort.
When you defeat demon bosses, it is advised to hang on to these special demon boss souls instead of consuming them and adding them to your pile of currency-like souls. At the start of the game and through many of the worlds first levels, NPCs will happily accept any souls as currency. However after a while, some upgrades, spells or miracles will require only demon boss souls to obtain. You do not drop items on death - other than your current souls - but non-consumed demon souls from bosses, or lesser ones found lying on dead soldiers will be safe for use at another time.
The combat on this game is superb. Weapon wielding is great. Using the shield is very helpful, and whilst stamina plays a part in how effective both weapon and shield are, it recovers very quickly. It's incredibly well designed and the lock on system makes combat easy to use, but the battles themselves are obviously not a walk in the park. I haven't used magic yet but it's going to be pretty similar.
Graphically the game is amazing. It's a fantastic third person RPG, with a good challenging difficulty, which to some may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get into it, you will manage. The frame rate at times can become choppy but the PS3 handles the game very well - for the most part the game is as fluid as anything.
When you've completed the game with your first character, the game doesn't end. You get to NG+ (New Game +) which increases the difficulty of the foes, but lets you keep a few things from your previous play through.
I'd advise only patient players buy this, because this may be why Demon's Souls has bad ratings by some people. It's not for cry babies, or for lovers of games who play themselves. It's a mans game - or womens ;) - and the difficulty, an unapparent progression make this challenging RPG a fantastic play through.
Those of you considering purchasing this game, who are worried about difficulty, should check Gamespot.com's review of Demon's Souls. Those who are considering Dark Souls, I suggest they get Demon's Souls first.
on 8 April 2015
This may be a somewhat delayed review, but I thought with Bloodborne being released I may aswell take my time to offer my thoughts on this game, I am not really sure anyone will read this now anyways because the chance of someone buying this game is probably low now, however this is intended for anyone who still has a PS3 but has not played this but played any other game in the Souls series or even if you want a challenge and have not played any other game in the series you may aswell start here. The game is old, it came in 2009 well over six years ago now, I myself had the pleasure of completing this game around four years ago this month, I only played it once but it was so utterly brilliant that I often think about playing it again but I realise I still have Dark Souls to complete, I bought that and barely touched it, you know why? Mainly because this game is slightly different to the newer versions of the games in the series. Instead of an open world game you have a central hub known as the Nexus where you can enter different areas of the world, I preferred this as each world was so beautifully different, it made my experience on Dark Souls less enjoyable (not that that takes anything away from DaS at all) as I enjoyed the choice we had to play the levels we wanted to.
On the bright side, this game is amazingly crafted, the combat is fun, the difficulty is no joke, if you're not prepared to die and learn from your mistakes don't bother purchasing this game. It rewards perseverance which I found out the first day I got this, I'd read a review about it in late 2009 and thought one day I will get this game when it lands in the UK, at that time it was a far East exclusive as far as I was aware. I forgot about this game until I saw it sitting in a shop window one day when I was 17 and couldn't believe what I was seeing, I had no idea that the EU even had a released copy of the game, I bought it and loaded it up at home, and I was in for a shock. This was by far and large (and still is) the most difficult game I have ever played, when people say it is hard, make sure you listen. I couldn't even get past the first area of the first level after the tutorial mission, I raged and didn't play the game for about five days, when I came back I used YouTube walkthroughs to guide me through the first level and from there on the game expanded and truly opened up, what I found was something so addictive, so brutal but yet so astonishing, never had I played a game like this and until I purchase Bloodborne I don't think anything will come close.
In essence this is a game where I won't give much away, as you may have read this, you may be new to the series, if you are reading this far and are considering trying this game, DO IT! You may hate it, you WILL struggle, you WILL die, but give it a good few hours...maybe days just to get accustomed to it, I'm sure in time you'll become fully prepared to die :)
Demon's Souls had me interested ever since I first read a review of it on import in Games magazine. It got 10 out of 10 and much was made about the difficulty - the screen shots captured in the magazine looked fantastic but I was put off by the comments made as to how hard this game is. That was back in 2009 and after much deliberation as to whether I should chance getting an import copy I eventually decided to wait for the Black Phantom Edition once it was announced that a PAL version would be released in the UK.
Now the introduction is out of the way, let's move swiftly onto my experience of the game. It is most definitely a challenging game to say the least, it took me six hours and dozens of deaths just to complete the first level (after the tutorial, which is great introdction to the game I might add). I must profess that I haven't progressed much further into the game despite devoting several more hours on it. Normally, such slow progress would frustrate me to to point that I would give up on the game. So why not Demon's Souls? Put simply, it is such a rewarding experience that it just sucks you in. Dying becomes part of the learning process - you learn the layout of the level, the foes you will face and other dangers to look out for. So the game had me carefully edging my way through the perilous and imposing environments - it is really tense at times not knowing what may be lurking around the next corner and I haven't experienced a game like this in the current generation of consoles. You can't simply run through the whole game (alhough there are moments where you need to just run and hope) because you need to exert real care and thought as you progress.
What does help are the unique online features - you get to see blood stains of other gamers where they have met their bloody demise and you can use these to "preview" how they met their end. Also, other gamers can leave hints anywhere in the evironment, using set bodies of text, whereby the most helpful hints will remain in the game for longer before fading away. It is a truly fantastic touch. Other gamers can also enter your game to either try and kill you or assist you in your quest, although I can't comment on this as I haven't experienced this yet so I'm not too sure how it works without first hand experience.
The graphics and sound really add to the atmosphere. There is no backing music during gameplay, just the environmental noises, but they really add to the atmospheric feel of the game and the graphics in my opinion are excellent.
This is a game I really shouldn't like. I've been playing games for almost the last 20 years so I have experienced hundreds of games but I have never been an exceptional player - I'd rate myself as maybe slightly above average at best - and I don't tend to like games that are fiendishly difficult.... Demon's Souls is just that. But I absolutely love this game. I just can't fault anything about it.
The Black Phantom Edtion comes with some nice extras too, so I'd adise getting that if you're a collector and it's not too expensive (it is limited edition and now not widely available) - a very nice art book, the soundtrack CD and a full strategy guide (which admittedly, isn't as helpful as I would have hoped, as despite being detailed it is biased towards just one class of character and therefore some of the tips are not particularly useful for other classes).
Overall, an absolutely stunning game. Yes it is incredibly difficult but it rarely feels unfair. This is the most rewarding game I have played in a long time. A game where I have devoted so many hours for so little progress and still give 5 stars with ease, now that is something special, particularly as I am someone with normally not a lot of patience that a game like this requires. However, when you do make even the smallest bit of progress it feels so rewarding - you really can feel like you've achieved so much just by getting that little bit further in the game. In my opinion, the best game I have played in 2010 - my game of the year.
on 6 January 2013
The first Souls game I got was Dark Souls. That was about a year ago. After hearing that it is the most difficult game ever and that it is crushing, I read countless reviews and articles on how to begin playing Dark Souls and minimize the amount of deaths I'll experience. With this knowledge I stepped into the world of Dark Souls. I choose the character class which these advice guides specified (knight) and spent around 20 hours playing the game. I then stopped. If you've ever played an RPG you'll know that 20 hours is nothing in the world of RPGs, Dark Souls being an RPG and all. Why did I stop playing?...I can honestly say that I have no idea. I guess the best explanation I can give is that i just didn't feel right. It wasn't the constant dying or the feeling of dread, no. It simply didn't feel right. Just like that, Dark Souls began gathering dust on my shelf. I didn't touch it for 6 months.
Then one day, one of my favorite YouTubers began his first play-through of it. Right from the get-go, he explained that he didn't read any help guides before playing the game. He opened the character creation screen and choose a ninja character, as it was best suited to his play-style. He began playing the game and did reasonably well, much better than me when I first started it. After watching an episode or two, I noticed an extraordinary difference between the death count and the speed of progress between him an me. It was then that it hit me: your experience with Dark Souls depends on what kind of character you choose, build and create. With this realisation I restarted playing the game and recently finished playing it the sixth time. Having built 4 characters, and put over 400 hours into it, I continue to play it still.
If you've read up to this point and haven't realised it yet, I would have missed out on the Dark Souls experience was it not for the realisation: your experience with Dark Souls depends on what kind of character you choose, build and create. I can verify that statement after beating the game a couple of times and add onto it: do not try to play Dark Souls in a way that is meant to be the most efficient way to play; play Dark Souls in a way that best suits your play-style, only then will you enjoy the Dark Souls experience.
For that very reason, Demon's Souls is a brilliant prequel. In the same way that Dark Souls is only as good as you let it be, so is Demon's Souls. In the exact same fashion as Dark Souls, if you play Demon's Souls just to clear it out and finish it, not to enjoy the ride, you will simply not be able to go on, because you will feel no interest in seeing what else this game has to offer. The world of Demon's Souls is so exciting and unique that even the differences in visual and audio quality between it and Dark Souls, a game that came out 2 years after Demon's Souls, isn't that noticeable. So if you need convincing whether or not you should buy this game, here it is: you should most definitely buy this game and never look back, for this game is a king of it's genre, RPG, that prides on it's ability to thrive on you actually role-playing and getting into the world, just like it's spiritual sequel Dark Souls.
on 18 November 2012
I was almost put off buying this game due to all the available reviews saying how difficult it was. I eventually gave it a go when I picked up the special edition with the strategy guide and soundtrack, and I am very glad I did. But the reviews are fairly accurate.
Demons Souls is an action RPG, which sees you as a warrior/knight/mage etc (you choose your starting type) trapped in limbo because the world has been overtaken by demons. Your job is to fight the monsters inhabiting various areas, kill bosses and earn experience. If you're considering playing it, let me explain why it's so difficult:
The enemies are tough and clever. Even at the start, you'll realise that even the most feeble demon attacker can bash your brains out if you don't do something clever or move quickly. I spent a good while playing the very first area multiple times - by which I mean the large flight of stairs at the very start - before I dared go any further into the level, just to make sure I knew how to handle the controls. That's how cautious I was! Seriously, 2 or three hits can kill you in this game, and if they come close together there's no time to use any healing items. So you can drop dead at any moment if you don't take your time
The most brutal aspect of all this is that you can't gain any experience unless you complete a whole level without dying. All the experience gained is in the form of "souls" released by monsters you slay, and just picking them up is not enough, you have to carry them with you through to the end of level and beat the boss before you can spend them on increasing your stats. That's a pretty tough rule....if you die at any point, you drop the lot and are returned to the start of the level again - with nothing.
There is some comfort in the fact that if on your next attempt you make it to the area where you died, the pile of souls will be sitting on the floor waiting to be picked up again. So you can recover them...but only once. If you die before reaching that point, you lose them permanently. The idea seems to be that you practice, practice and practice again to ensure that you can get through a whole level in one go (the enemies always re-appear every time, and everything is always in the same place. So you really can go through many "rehearsal" runs before making a full trip - as long as you make it further each time.
If that sounds too harsh, here are some factors that make things bearable: As you move through stages killing things, enemies do not re-spawn behind you. So if you work methodically, you can always retreat safely to the areas you have cleared out. Next, items picked up do not get lost if you die. So any hard to reach weapons and items are safe - it's just those all important souls that you lose. There's more: some extra dangerous enemies dotted around in a few levels only have to be killed once and they are gone for the whole game. That's a relief. And in my favourite gameplay element, some levels are circular, so you can often go a long way in and then open a shortcut that takes you right back to the start point. These shortcuts are also permanent, so next time you re-start, you can often bypass loads of misery and get to the end of level boss pretty fast. The very first level is the best for this, the gateway to the boss is right by the entry point, although it's only opened after a very long route around to reach a switch. What a relief that was, sadly later levels are not quite so generous, but to be honest nearly all of them have something similar.
Of course, the other exceptional thing about Demons Souls is that apart from being freakin' difficult, it's also very addictive. The worlds you explore look stunning, filled with detail, both architecture and enemies, secret areas, breakable scenery etc etc. There are so many types of weapons, armour and magic skills that you can build your character up any way you like. Be fast and nimble and fight with ranged attacks, or wear strong armour (which makes you slower), and whack enemies close up with big swords. Or a bit of both.
There is a story here but not much. You won't really care though, you'll probably be concentrating on how to make it from point A to point B alive. Some of the levels are more fun that others, my favourites are those set in the elaborate structures like the castle or a rather grim prison. The ones I have problems with are the levels that have way too many perilous walkways suspended very high up, where you can fall off to an instant death, which strikes me as a very cheap way to make the level more difficult to finish, because you can't attack (or be attacked) on them without risking slipping off the edge.
The bosses in the game are suitably tough, although not actually the hardest parts of the game to get through. Some barely put up a fight, however a couple are way worse than anything else in the game (Flamelurker - I hate you). The best strategy to gaining levels seems to be replaying levels that you have finished and just stocking up on souls safely. There's no point in trying to make your first trip through a new level count towards stat building, in fact you might find you just scrape through and then revisit it multiple times after it's completed because all of the levels stay playable after being completed, they just don't have the boss any more.
So this is a game for the player who takes things seriously. You simply can't breeze through this one, you have to allow time to consider levels, and sometimes you'll be moving very slowly. But the sense of achievement when you beat a boss is immense, and the levels all have secrets to uncover so you won't mind going through them several times. Be brave and give it a try.
on 29 May 2012
After spending a few hours in the world of Demon's souls I feel I am ready to review the content of the game and as the title suggests, this is my first RPG game.
- Gameplay -
Demon's souls, a game critically acclaimed for its difficulty. Personally, I disagree with those profound statements; if someone claims this game is by any means "hard" then I can only come to the conclusion that they are playing the game wrongly, this is particularly true when on their first playthrough. Demon's souls is no Skyrim or standard medieval-era RPG game, instead Demon's souls is a game that demands the player to analyse their enemy and wait for them to expose an exploitable weakness of which they can take advantage of. If you want to survive in Demon's souls then going straight into a fight is by no means the way to go, if you follow the play-style Demon's souls demands, you will have no problem with this game at all because you will feel more rewarded and deaths will occur less frequently pen-ultimately, leaving you feeling a greater sense of gratification. The gameplay is fluid and responsive and as people say, any death is entirely the players fault as they have either missed the right time to strike their enemy or disregarded the environment or health/stamina bars. It can be said that due to the tactical, engrossing gameplay you (as I did) will realise an estimated 1 hour play of the game quickly becomes 2 due to the concentration and fun this game needs and gives. This leads me onto the controls:
The controls for Demon's souls are absolutely perfect and are accessible to all audiences, even me, someone who has never played an RPG before. The controls are fairly basic and easy to pick up, the player should have no problem here.
Playing a 2009 game in 2012 you may feel that despite graphical advances, you would be able to notice any differences made in the 3 year period inbetween. With Demon's souls this however, is not the case. The graphics for this game are excellent and look as good as a game produced now (as well as exceeding the graphics of some games produced now!). The graphics in Demon's souls really are perfect and no issues were found in this area.
A commonly raised point when talking about Demon's souls, the difficulty of the game is no problem at all infact, the real difficulty really comes when trying to conserve health supplies or being aware of your health and stamina bars whilst in a fight. If you're a careful player that doesn't play games that promote headless-chicken tactics (Call of duty) then I promise you, if you stay aware during this game and watch enemy attack patterns then you will have no problem at all with the difficulty. My first play-through actually lasted 2 hours as I had become so engrossed in the magnificent world created by From Software.
If reluctant, BUY THIS GAME!
I have quickly gone from being reluctant to playing this game every night since I love it so much!
BUY IT NOW!
YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
DO NOT LET THE DIFFICULTY PUT YOU OFF!
on 21 April 2014
It's mean, unforgiving and will work your nerves to the breaking point.
Not everyone will love the brutality of the difficulty, or the bare-bones presentation, but have no doubt: You are sucked into the game's atmosphere without a moment's notice and will find it difficult to leave again. Demon's Souls is a game to remember.
Your adventure is set in the magical world of Boletaria, a large land of endless natural beauties and impressive landmarks. One day, in a desperate attempt to gain more power, King Allant XII (king of Boletaria) performed a dark ritual that enabled him to harness the power of souls. For a time, the kingdom was in an unprecedented golden age. After a while, however, a dark fog started to float over Boletaria, eventually severing all contacts with other nations. It is revealed that the king's ritual had awakened the Old One, a terrifying demon that had been in slumber for centuries. The fog brought in soul-devouring demons that started to feast on the land's inhabitants. Many braved the fog either to try and save Boletaria or to harness the awesome power of the demon souls. You are one of those people, alone in the harsh world, a man amongst demons.
Though the background is very expansive, the story's involvement in the game is actually quite slim. Other than the first and last 10 or so minutes of the game, you won't encounter much in terms of either story or narrative. It's slightly disappointing that the developers didn't decide to go a bit deeper into the intriguing story that had been built up in the beginning.
Luckily, the game still manages to pull this off by creating a world that is absolutely enchanting. You will visit medieval castles, poisonous swamps, towering prisons, cavernous mines, ruins of a lost civilization and many other outlandish locales. The amount of detail in every area is astounding, showing remnants of what the place was like before the demons' arrival to Boletaria. Skeletons lay on the ground, blood is splattered on walls, decay is apparent in every structure. It's this sort of detail that makes the world of Demon's Souls so compelling. You will wish you could rewind time so that you can experience the world again for the first time. With this level of immersion, it is easy to forgive the lack of a concrete story.
Traversing these environments is not an easy task. This has been mentioned before, but Demon's Souls is hard. Not only is it hard, it's absolutely remorseless. It's safe to say that DS is the hardest game to come out on the PS3, bar none. Surviving isn't as simple as just being careful. You need true skill to persevere in the harsh world of Boletaria. At its core, the game is a typical hack and slash RPG, where the goal is to slay large enemies to finish each level. However, it isn't as simple as that when you look closer. When you start the game, and get through the character creator, you can choose a special cIass. This will determine what equipment you are given at the start, along with your base stats. From there, you are pretty much free to progress as you wish. You can focus on magic, brute strength, speed or ranged attacks. The variety of weapons, spells, miracles (similar to spells, though slightly more defense-based), armor and other equipment is staggering to say the least.
You'll need all this variety, since part of the adventure is working out how to get past the ghastly enemies of the game. Some enemies can kill you in as much as one hit, so you always have to be careful. Combat is mostly twofold: melee and ranged combat. In melee, you can attack normally or perform a strong attack. If you have a shield, even more options will be available to you. You can of course use it to shield yourself, but can also parry incoming blows and counter with a vicious riposte. All of these actions require stamina, and when it is depleted, you'll have to wait a moment for it to recover. This clever mechanic makes button mashing an impossible tactic. You have to use skill, timing and foresight in every one of your battles.
The tools of ranged combat are split in two: spells and ranged weapons. Spells require both MP and specific catalysts that enable spell use. There is a large variety of spells to choose from, and most players will have to have some sort of spell knowledge to best some of the tougher enemies. Ranged weapons are bows and crossbows, which both work very well and are simple to use. It is vital to learn how to attack from afar, so the fact that the ranged mechanics work so well is a very fortunate thing. Your character can also use miracles, which are more to boost certain stats or create shields of many sorts. They too require a special item to use.
The combat isn't the only thing that makes the game difficult, however. First thing that needs to be known is that the game is constantly online, unless you don't sign into the PSN network. This means that there is no real pause function in the game. Therefore, all rearrangement of inventory, use of healing items and change of equipment is done in real time. This is also the case offline, most likely to boost the difficulty. It adds a layer of tension to the already nerve-wracking experience.
The soul system is another factor of the game that provides a difficulty boost. Souls are both the currency and experience points of the game. All things are bought with demon souls, and levelling up various stats also requires them. Defeating demons will grant you the souls, but dying will cause you to lose all of them. You can go back to the point where you died and collect the souls, but if you die again on the way there, they will forever be lost.
The final component that makes Demon's Souls tougher than other games out there is how the game handles death. If you die, you go into soul form, which is basically a downgraded form of your living self. You have only half your normal health, and you can only go back to your former self by either beating a boss demon, using a certain very rare item or becoming a phantom and helping another player.
What is a phantom exactly? It's one of the three innovative online components of Demon's Souls. The game is very unique in its online approach. You don't interact with the other players as much as you simply see them. You are still pretty much alone for the major part of your adventure, but that doesn't mean you won't get any help.
The first component, and by far the most prominent, is the message system. Every player can write a message from a predetermined list of words that is then left on the ground for the world to see. You can be mean and write a misleading message or be helpful and give hints to what is ahead. If you feel a message is helpful, you can recommend it, which in turn heals the writer of the message. If a message isn't recommended much, it will eventually disappear, leaving only the ones that prove helpful. So as you can see, this is a win-win situation in every way.
The second online component is blood stains. Every player that dies in the game will leave one, and touching it will show exactly how the player died in a grisly pantomime. It's basically a simpler version of the message system, but it helps in quite a few situations.
The final online mechanic is the phantom system, which is in turn split into two separate systems. By using specific stones while in soul form, you can either become a blue or black phantom. Blue phantoms can be summoned by living players to help with boss demons, while black phantoms will invade other players' worlds. If blue phantoms manage to help beat the boss demon, they will regain their human form. In the same way, if a black phantom kills the unfortunate "host", he will get his human body again. It's truly a terrifying experience to see the dreaded message "A black phantom has invaded your world" pop up on the screen. It creates a sense of urgency that will stay with you for some time.
The blue phantoms' help is vital if you don't want to rip your hair out from frustration. The boss demons are almost all very difficult, and having a second or even third player with you will alleviate some of the challenge. The sense of scale these boss demons invoke is amazing, and the game boasts one of the best boss fights in gaming. They're all incredibly unique and fun to fight, and are fitting ends to each and every stage.
One thing that has scared many from playing the game is the question: "Is the game unfair?" The answer is simple: no. The game is all about skill and perseverance. If you at first don't succeed, try, try again. This proverb is very important to remember when playing the game. If you don't follow it, you probably won't experience all that Demon's Souls has to offer.
As mentioned earlier, the game's atmosphere and environments are amazingly crafted. However, the visual presentation is far from perfect. There is frequent texture pop-up, and many of the surroundings seem to bear an annoying shine to them, as if some kind of glaze has been splattered all over the place. Dead demons are also very twitchy post-mortem, often sticking to your character heels and flailing their lifeless limbs for no apparent reason. Finally, the game occasionally has a hard time keeping up with what is going on in the game, lagging in some odd moments. This doesn't happen often, but when the problem rears its ugly head, it can be very aggravating. However, for every negative thing, there is something positive. Weapons, armor and spells look amazing in-game, and monster animation is superb.
The sound aspects of the game are also fantastic. Demon's Souls has a completely original score, all fully orchestrated by real instruments. It only plays in key moments of the game, which accentuates the urgency of every moment. Everything else is in perpetual silence, giving you an ominous feeling of what is ahead. The voice acting is peculiar, to say the least. You have probably never heard anything quite like it. It feels surprisingly natural, there is no glamor or grace, only raw emotion and a believable performance. It's a breath of fresh air, to put it simply. It might come off as eccentric at times, especially when some characters inexplicably raise their voices when talking to you, but it's another aspect Demon's Souls manages to excel in.
Getting everything the game has to offer is definitely going to take more than one playthrough. There are two different endings, a myriad of hidden items, enemies and treasures and the simple ability to be able to play the game through again in a New Game + is always a fun bonus. This adds to the replayability of the game, though that definitely requires even more patience.
The bottom line is this: how much you like Demon's Souls is absolutely based on how much work you want to put into it. If you don't have the time to truly commit yourself to the game, or are just looking for a game to enjoy in short bursts, then DS is not the game for you. However, if you want a game that rewards patience, is utterly engrossing and offers a sense of accomplishment greater than any other game on the PS3, then you won't find a game more for you than DS. Brutal, challenging, hard, tough, difficult... whatever you choose to call it, the game is one of a kind.
on 3 October 2011
I just bought a PS3 so I could play BRDs I have always used my Xbox 360 for gaming. I saw that this game was a PS3 exclusive and bought it because i really liked the look of it. After playing it I regret not buying a PS3 sooner just for this game, it's that good. If you're looking for a challenging game to keep you hooked for a while, you can't go wrong with Demons souls.