Developer: From Software
Release Date: 10/6/2009
Available Exclusively On
Brutal. That is the first word that will come out of your mouth when playing this game. This is for the hardcore only and I strictly warn you before plunking down $40 for this game and regretting the purchase like I did. This isn’t your straight-up hack & slash game. Oh no, not by any means. This game is all about level grinding and repetition. You will be punished for even trying to take that last-minute hit. What’s the punishment? Going back to the last save. Ha if only that were true here. You have to restart the entire level every time you die and you lose all your souls (XP). Yeah, I screamed what as well when I found this out.
The game is also hard to figure out. I had to do some research online to figure out how to play Demon’s Souls because most RPGs aren’t like this. Instead of a story that you follow through and advance through a game you get stuck in a central hub and have 5 connecting levels. You have to repeat these levels dozens of times to level up. You can go to any level whenever you want, and each level has four sections with a boss at the end of each section. Just getting through stages 1-1 was a pain in the ass. I died about 20 times before beating that section.
Another thing you will never know how to do is level up. It doesn’t just happen like most RPGs. You have to get all your souls back to the Nexus (hub) without dying and talk to the Maiden in Black to level up. There are 999 levels and each time you upgrade an attribute that bumps you up one level. So if you upgrade strength, vitality, and dexterity that bumps you up to three levels. So once you figure this out you have to start soul grinding until you get to a high enough level that you won’t die with every swing.
Don’t panic when you die though. If you manage to get back to the spot you died without dying again you can reclaim all your lost souls and they will be added to what you currently have. Die before you reach there and the count is reset. This makes the game so frustrating and I even almost got an aneurysm from the frustration. A lot of enemies are tough and the fighting mechanics aren’t all that smooth so you have to learn them and execute them well. It’s all about skill.
The fighting mechanics are pretty decent. You have a light and heavy attack as well as a block and parry button. All these are mapped to the shoulder buttons. You can switch weapons out with the left and right D-pad (assign them in your menu). Another flaw the game has and doesn’t make any sense with is that you can’t sell items but only drop them. You think selling these would make getting souls easier, but From Software just had to make things that more difficult. On top of this, you have a burden count (think Oblivion), and getting new armor and weapons isn’t easy. You can upgrade weapons and armor by finding stones. These can only be upgraded at the Nexus (as far as I know).
Another flaw this game has is there’s no pause button. Yeah, what? I couldn’t believe you can’t pause the game it’s that hardcore. You just have to stand in a safe spot. This game goes out of its way to make you hate it to death. Yet there’s something that makes you keep playing. You just want to keep leveling up and getting the next boss and fighting your way through the game. This is probably because you get so angry that you just won’t let the game win. This also means you need hours of your day to play this game since this is by no means a pickup and play game.
I was so angry about the game that I didn’t even mention the story. The story goes along the lines of a Deep Fog that has taken over the land of Boletaria and you must defeat the demons holding it there. It’s not really much to ponder on, but it’s enough to keep you going. The voice acting is iffy and you will spend so much time leveling up that you will probably forget all about the story.
The game does do something unique and this is its online mode. Instead of having a co-op or anything like that other people can help everyone else through hidden messages or bloodstains. If you come across a message you can read it and it will give you hints to help you through the level. These are pre-made messages that people can enter to help others out. Most of the time these are helpful, but a lot are tricks. Bloodstains are a player that most recently died in that spot and you can watch their “ghost” to avoid getting killed yourself. Sometimes you will see white ghosts floating around in real-time and there are other players that you can watch to give you a hint. This is very unique and innovative, but the frustration of the game makes you quickly forget about it all.
The game looks pretty decent. The graphics are a bit bland in some areas, but it’s technically sound. There are some glitches like collision detection issues and wonky physics. Overall Demon’s Souls is for the hardcore only enough said. If you want a hack & slash that’s simple and fun don’t get this game stay far away. So why did I give this such a high score if I hate it so much? Because the game is good itself and I just don’t have the patience for this type of game. I’m not going to punish the game for my inability to play it so the people who can play this will enjoy it. It’ll take you a good 10-15 hours just to figure out all the stats and how the game is played, another 10-15 to get your bearings and level up enough to attempt the game, and about 50+ just to get through the game. Each boss feels like a triumph and is very rewarding, but this game only rewards the patient.