Posted on: May 3rd, 2010 GAME REVIEW: Demon’s Souls, Pt. 1 (PS3)

Demon’s Souls Pt. 1 aka How I Keep Getting My Ass Handed To Me

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I was never a huge RPG gamer, I don’t like the Final Fantasy games, I’m not much for the Japanese RPG’s, and I certainly never liked anything from Japanese game developer Atlus. I got into WoW for awhile, and started to enjoy the subtleties of the RPG genre, but got tired of the pay to play formula when I wouldn’t play for weeks on end.

Along comes the new generation of RPG, adding more guns, more hack & slash and less pause and look at a radial menu for 20 minute intervals. Soon I was right into Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and Dragon Age. Yet after reading all the reviews of Demon’s Souls I’ve remained trepidatious since it’s October 2009 N. American release date. Why?

Because it’s f**king brutally hard that’s why. Let’s get that out on the open first. If you are a casual gamer, or new to the RPG genre DO NOT get Demon’s Souls. But, if you’re looking for a challenging, incredible looking, frustrating and obscenity inducing challenge, then run out and pick it up. Only $45.00 at EB Games.

This PS3 exclusive is set in the dark Europe inspired land of Boletaria. You play one of many brave warriors who came forward before you, to rid the land of an evil fog that has swept across it, killing many. The fog precedes the Old One. A massive demon that the old King unleashed and now needs to be put back to rest.

Not much for story, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here for gameplay.

The game is extremely easy to get the hang of. Combat is your R1 button, blocking is your L1 button. You have different spells, weapons, healing agents and miscellaneous items mapped to your D-Pad, with a simple push in the direction of the pad, scrolls through items you’ve mapped to the button. It’s that simple.

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You have your dodge button and your action button. Select brings up your menu where you can equip or unequipped items, check your stats, options and quit. It too is that easy. It took me mere minutes to learn the game, with a quick pause from time to time to look up what various symbols meant.

That’s where easy ends. The game is meant to challenge you. And you are meant to die…often. It’s the only way to learn the strategies needed to defeat the various enemies in the various levels. While it is frustrating, it leads to a great feeling of accomplishment when you finally make it past a boss you’ve tried to defeat…over and over.

There are no pause menu’s and no saves. When you die, you start at the very beginning of the level, no matter how far you had made it. You are also in Spirit form, meaning you lose half your health until regaining your body. And all the souls you’ve collected along the way. Souls are EXTREMELY important as they are the games only form of currency, so when you die, you truly feel the sting. But, when you’re transported back to the beginning of the level, if you can fight your way through every foe again, you’re rewarded with a bloodstain that you touch, that gives you all your lost souls back. Die on the way to that bloodstain and the souls disappear forever. I told you, it’s relentless.

Atlus has thrown an incredible online component into the game which can make your travels easier. When you have the right stone, you can summon any online player that’s in that same realm to help you. Drop the stone and wait, when someone answers they show up in your world as a phantom, you can summon two phantoms at any time and tackle some of the harder challenges together. If one of the players dies, he returns to his world with no penalty, you all win and those persons keep whatever souls they collected along the way. It is an excellent online component and quite visionary.

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But beware, this same online component can bite you in the ass. When you want to, you can drop a dark stone and appear in someone’s world as a Dark Phantom, your goal…kill that player and take his souls. When you’re grinding away, and you see the message that someone has invaded your world, a deep sense of foreboding takes over, not only do you have to deal with the games foes, but now a bloodthirsty player as well. It’s such an excellent idea and very well executed.

Another superb idea is the ‘note system’. At any point in the game you can stop and leave a note on the ground for other players. It can be a warning about a trap ahead, a recommendation…nearly anything. If a player stops and reads your note, they can recommend it, if you get a recommendation, you are rewarded with full health no matter where you are in the game. It adds a real feeling of camaraderie even though you don’t actually ‘see’ these other players.

Graphically the game is quite lovely. Enemies are rendered well, the set pieces look amazing and backgrounds are lush. I have yet to experience any lag in the game, but I am still in the early stages. I started 3 times in the beginning trying to find the right character build for me (warrior, mage, templar etc). Demon’s Souls has also been awarded many Game Of The Year 2009 titles, including many accolades from Gamespot, one of the internet’s premier gaming sites.

I call this review Pt 1, because again, I still early in, because I am getting ruthlessly hammered over and over. But I keep coming back, I want to see what’s around the next corner, lurking in the dark. And I want to beat that end Demon, at all costs.

When I finish the game, and there are 5 levels, each with 5 HUGE sublevels, I’ll come back to Pt. 2. Until then, it’s time to go get my ass kicked again.

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