From Software's latest RPG masterpiece impresses on almost every level
- Atmospheric, challenging (to put it lightly!), it will keep you going for ages
- Online mode destroys the game's mood, can occasionally be too 'old school' for it's own good
Demon's Souls has proven to be an unexpected hit for From Software, but it has deserved every success -- it really is one of the few essential RPGs.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
After a short tutorial, a giant demon smashed my hero to pieces. He was then kinda-sorta revived in a ghost form, and I started Demon's Souls proper. I wandered up the steps to a mammoth Gothic castle, knocked off a few zombie-things, and was generally feeling pretty good about myself.
“This game is meant to be really hard,” I said to myself, and yet I was cruising. I entered an inky-black, claustrophobic tunnel. WHAM! A zombie-thing slapped me from behind the veil of darkness with a monkey-jump that would have impressed Donkey Kong and I was halfway to the first of many deaths.
Demon's Souls is a relic from the past — and I say that with all due love and respect. It's painfully difficult, requires a lot of trial and error, and moves with a methodical plodding that makes it hard to qualify as an 'action RPG.' The most basic of enemies are quite capable of knocking you off — the big ones are truly frightening — and this is one of the few games where a dragon really is something you don't want to square off against.
From niche masterpiece developer, From Software (Lost Kingdoms, Armored Core), Demon's Souls is a sequel to the venerable King's Field series in all but name. Where the earlier games were slow-burning first-person dungeon hackers, Demon's Souls is a slow-burning third-person dungeon hacker. Like the earlier games, Demon's Souls is old-school Gothic, filled with slump-shouldered and sad-faced NPCs, pea soup fog and damp colours.
And, like the King's Field series, Demon's Souls is unforgiving. The odds are stacked against your hero, the bosses are monstrous, and there's a great deal of trial and error in the gameplay. You’ll eventually earn your physical form back in the early stages of the game, but you won’t keep it for long.
The game then gets harder each time you die, as you are tasked to recover your physical body as a 'soul' — a soul with a fraction of the health of a physical body, weapons that are rapidly degrading, and none of the experience you accumulated prior to death. How do you return to your fallen body in an inferior state? Good question.
To rub salt into the wounds, Demon's Souls features a 'light and dark' system — each death brings the world one step closer to darkness. The darker the world, the tougher the enemies. The tougher the enemies, the more you die. It's the dictionary definition of 'vicious cycle'.
And yet, for all the challenge, you won't put down Demon's Souls. A death is not an excuse to go and play something easy; it's a challenge to improve yourself. Every step farther is a reward in itself, every boss defeated is Christmas come early, and for the trophy whores, earning a platinum on this one may as well be the equivalent of a Nobel Prize.
It's not all good, of course. From Software is creatively brilliant, but just as stubborn in sticking to decidedly archaic conventions. Combat is slow and clunky — tactical, yes, but a challenge rather than a joy to engage with. Character models and the game world of Boletaria are detailed, but also coated with a sheen that, at times, makes everything look plastic. Music is minimal but effective, while the sound effects haven't evolved far from King's Field on the PlayStation 1 and 2.
Finally, the online mode, while undeniably creative, is an ugly clash with the overall theme of the game. Demon’s Souls was designed as a solitary, lonely experience, but having blue souls pop in and out to help you knock off a demon, and playing cat-and-mouse with red souls looking to PK you, greatly cuts that autophobic atmosphere to the detriment of the game. It ultimately feels like a modern concession to an audience that craves MMOs.
Ignoring the uncomfortable online mode, however, Demons Souls is a unique and essential single-player experience. It'll test the patience of even the most hardened gamer, but it rewards perseverance three fold. It's also the closest to an essential RPG the PlayStation 3 has had to date, and will undoubtedly go down as a cult icon of the generation.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Tannenberg expands Verdun's World War I horrors to the Eastern front
- MSI Wins Computex Best Choice Award 2017 for a Record-Breaking 5 Products
- Destiny 2: The 5 key things PC gamers need to know
- The Windows 10 Game Bar: What PC gamers need to know
- Microsoft's Phantom Dust remaster brings the cult Xbox classic to PCs, for free
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- MSI GE62 7RD Apache gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCPega DeveloperACT
- FTLead Senior Systems Engineer | 90 - 120K + Super|VIC
- FTTechnical Consultant - SharePoint developerQLD
- CCSolution ArchitectNSW
- TPArcGIS DeveloperVIC
- FTJunior - Mid Level Technical Customer SupportQLD
- FTSenior System EngineerNSW
- CCData Scientists - MultipleACT
- TPSenior Integration OfficerQLD
- FTSenior React DeveloperNSW
- CCMaster Data Officer - SAPNSW
- FTSystem Analyst - IntegrationQLD
- FTSenior PHP Developer / Technical LeadQLD
- CCPeopleSoft Functional AnalystVIC
- FTLead Drupal DeveloperQLD
- CCSystems Analyst- Port MacquarieQLD
- CCJava / J2EE DeveloperVIC
- FTJunior .Net DeveloperNSW
- FTAccounts and Office AdministratorNSW
- FTNetwork EngineerSA
- CCState-wide Business Transition LeadQLD
- FTGraphics Designer / UI DesignerQLD
- CCScrum MasterNSW
- TPProject Manager - SOE / Office 365VIC