Prepare yourself for one of the most beautiful yet painfully difficult journeys of your life.
- Incredibly pretty, unhealthily addicting, great assortment of weapons/items/spells
- Unforgivingly hard, you WILL get angry, may or may not drive you insane, main narrative is a bit murky
Demon's Souls was certainly a love-hate relationship, with a heavy emphasis on the love. Unique, engaging, and frustrating as hell, Demon's Souls will keep you playing, even through the most intense of controller-throwing fits, and honestly, that's much more than I can say for similar titles.
My first experience with Demon's Souls dates back to the hustling, bustling, absolutely insane experience that was the 2009 E3 Expo. Notepad in hand, I was lead through Atlus's booth by smiling faces, going hands-on with the latest and greatest from their talented developers. Nearing the end of my tour, I caught the unforgettable sight of a man dying and cursing repeatedly, gritting his teeth so hard you could practically hear them cracking. "What's that?" I asked.
"Er... did I show you Trine yet?" the cheerful PR crew tried to change the subject, smiling nervously.
I held my ground, cleared my throat. "What's that?"
"That's Demon's Souls." Even in the incredibly loud and noisy halls of the LA Convention Center, you could hear the dread in their voice.
"Can I play?"
They reluctantly caved in soon enough, but honestly, I couldn't see why they were hesitant to let me near it. I walked away impressed and wanted more, so when the review build came in, I took on the assignment; maybe I should have listened to their warnings after all. What follows is a chronicle of my journey through the madness that is Demon's Soul.
August 22nd, 2009 - 7:00 PM
Just booted up Demon's Souls, and so far I've been prompted to connect to PSN, make a custom character and watch an intro movie. I'm surprised by the amount of depth as far as character creation goes, as this level of selection is generally reserved for Western RPGs. You can fool around with things like eye size, shape, skin color, and jaw width. Of course, you can also assign a class such as Knight, Wizard, Soldier and plenty of others each with their own unique attributes.
One of the most interesting aspects of Demon's Souls is the way it integrates online play. Instead of playing co-op with a thousand other dungeon crawlers simultaneously, fallen warriors of all classes and creeds will leave behind a blood stain when they die. Upon touching one of these blood stains you get to re-trace the last steps of these deceased heroes, witnessing a phantom version of them fighting through their last moments. In turn, you can learn from their mistakes and take the necessary precautions not to fall victim to the same tragedy. Heroes can also leave behind any combination of pre-written messages ("Look out for the rocks," "Watch out for fire," "Beware the enemy's ambush,"), which can aid other players by warning them of every imaginable danger and impending doom. So far these unique warnings have saved my hide a couple of times, but nothing that's completely sold me on the idea.
August 25th 2009 - 10:00 PM
This is frustrating. In the second dungeon now, and plenty sure I've left my own army's worth of corpses. At first it was simple stuff that got me: I parried too late, forgot to block, a zombie soldier chopped my head off.... I also fell victim to various traps and environmental hazards. Rocks fall from nowhere, hordes of enemies ambush you, and I can't even count how many times I was straight-up torched by this giant tool of a dragon. Every time you die (and here's the fun part) you respawn at the beginning of the level. All that blood, sweat and tears you just poured into making it to the boss? Gone. Actually, with every enemy you kill you get a set number of souls. You can use these souls as currency to purchase new items, weapons and armor, or to level your character up. But, let's say you die before you can do anything with these souls -- you lose them. There is a way to recover them, but this pretty much ends up in a maniacal corpse run akin to an Everquest player's night terrors. What's that? You got to your corpse, but died seconds before collecting your souls? Well then, they're gone for good.
Get used to the sights and sounds of Demon's Soul's many, many dungeons, as you'll be retreading them quite a bit. Honestly, I'd be much angrier at this whole situation if the game wasn't just so damn pretty. The textures are stunning, with gorgeous lighting effects bouncing off of every cobblestone. To put it bluntly, yes, the game looks good.
August 30th - 3:30 AM
I honestly couldn't even tell you the last time I slept. Started to get into the game's multiplayer mode, which consists of either going toe-to-toe or hand-in-hand with another warrior. Allies are invaluable when it comes to taking down one of the gargantuan bosses, like the three-story beast with a mile long sword and his team of about 50 deadly archers.
I haven't really gone into the game's leveling system, yet. You remember those traditional JRPGs where you win, twirl your sword, flick your hair and then get a sack of prizes that have no earthly business being on a monster's corpse? Yeah, forget it. Players meet with a creepy goth lady back in the Nexus, the game's central hub. There, you can use the souls you've collected off of fallen enemies to level up each of your skill points, from Endurance to Luck and so on. Oh, and another fun fact: Every time you level up one skill, the price for leveling up the next skill goes WAY up, so you literally have to re-play the same level six times so you can finally upgrade your HP by two points.
If I didn't love this game, I'd hate it remorselessly.
September 12th, 2009 - 5:00 AM
Office called again. Police knocked on the door for a while, but I just waited until they left. Why don't my neighbors understand that if I don't write these dire forewarnings, then who will warn the others of the dangers ahead?!
Died. Respawning. Out of coffee. Crap.
September 18th, 2009 - 4:30 AM
I am become Death, harvester of souls. I shall sing the song that ends the world.
September 20th, 2009 - 3:00 PM
Well, that was a particularly dark chapter of my life, and all that remains is six garbage bags worth of Cheetos. I'll be washing that shame off for months. Oh, also a small Pro Tip for our more obsessive readers: mass interventions aren't fun, and generally just leaves a bad taste for all those involved.
Demon's Souls was certainly a love-hate relationship, with a heavy emphasis on the love. Unique, engaging, and frustrating as hell, Demon's Souls will keep you playing, even through the most intense of controller-throwing fits, and honestly, that's much more than I can say for similar titles. Your inner diehard will thank you, but casual gamers should stay far, far away. You've been warned.
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