Demon's Souls is a third-person action, open-ended, dark fantasy, RPG dungeon crawler and spiritual successor to From Software's King's Field series. Its gameplay is largely hack and slash-oriented, though it requires levels of strategy, thoughtfulness, and precise use of a stamina meter that are not common in the genre. Dungeons are filled with numerous enemies and traps, with each section ending in a boss battle. Along the way to each boss, players can summon other players to help them, or their own world can be invaded by another player.
Players can leave notes to other players on the ground over the PlayStation Network using only a select combination of words warning them of upcoming dangers or giving advice on where to go; players can rate the "note" based on its validity. When a note is rated the person who created it is healed to full health in real time, or will be healed on their next connection to the game servers. There is also online co-op that involves joining other players' games for PvP or co-op play to either defeat demons together or to invade and kill other players.
Although the game's servers were slated to go offline May 31st, 2012, rendering all the multiplayer elements dead, Atlus announced soon after that the servers will be kept running indefinitely.
In his Giant Bomb interview, creator Hidetaka Miyazaki mentioned the influence of several classic manga on his game designs for Dark Souls, including Saint Seiya, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Berserk. In another interview, he also cited the influence of the early Dragon Quest games on Dark Souls. It was also influenced by FromSoftware's own King's Field series.
Demon's Souls has resulted in many games that have taken inspiration from its high level of challenge and deliberately-paced combat (such as Dragon's Dogma and The Witcher 2) as well as its unique implementation of asynchronous multiplayer, which inspired games like Journey and even the design of the PlayStation 4 console.
Dark Souls has had a strong influence on a number of action RPG titles and the video game industry in general. Developers of games such as The Witcher 2, Destiny and Alienation have cited Dark Souls games as an influence. The innovative asynchronous online multiplayer of Dark Souls also influenced games such as Journey and the development of the PlayStation 4.
King Allant had a magnificent kingdom in the land of Boletaria. Striving to make his kingdom the best it could be, he enlisted the help of the Nexus - a great tower harboring the souls of the dead. King Allant used the Soul Arts to improve life in Boletaria, making it prosper beyond its previous limits.
With time, King Allant was still unsatisfied. He demanded more. He knew where the greatest power of all was to be held. He took it upon himself to delve beneath the Nexus and awake the great being below, " The Old One". It was a being of indescribable hunger, a being which feeds on the souls of the dead, growing hungrier and craving more powerful souls with every soul it devours.
With the awakening of The Old One, Boletaria began to be enveloped in a great fog. The fog spread outward, blanketing Boletaria in a haze of death. No man or woman who passed within the borders of the fog were ever seen again. Worse than that, the fog still grows, and if not stopped, will consume all in existence.
Warriors from all over were drawn to the fog. People seeking wealth, fame, power, and repentance all flocked to Boletaria. And yet the fog still grows.
The player takes on the role of a adventurer, crossing into the fog of Boletaria.
When starting a new character, the player chooses a gender and a place of origin (North, South, East, or West) and is able to fine-tune the character's appearance using a system of sliders.
The player must also select a class of sorts - however, classes in Demon's Souls are less concrete than in most other RPGs, serving more as examples of the various approaches the player might eventually decide on. The starting class only affects starting stats, gear, and - if applicable - magic spells. Any player can use any weapon, armor, ring, or magic regardless of initial class choice (though a few pieces of equipment are gender-specific.) The use of weapons, armor and magic is governed only by stat requirements, and rings have no restrictions.
Those who want to use magic or miracles must first attain at least 10 in both Intelligence and Magic before "Wizard" spells can be learned, and a 10 in Faith before miracles can be learned. Casting spells or miracles requires a Catalyst or a Talisman, respectively.
- Soldier: (Soul Level 6) The default class, a balanced character geared for melee combat with no particular weaknesses or strengths. Starts with a set of plate armor, a broadsword, and a spear.
- Knight: (Soul Level 4) Physically strong and heavily armored, with the best starting shield, but lacking in Vitality compared to other melee classes. The bulky starting armor also greatly reduces mobility.
- Hunter: (Soul Level 6) A balanced character that is equipped with a bow, a one-handed battle axe, a shield, and and leather armor.
- Priest: (Soul Level 6) A warrior of the light. Starts with a healing miracle, a mace, and chain armor.
- Magician: (Soul Level 6) A strong user of fire magic. Weak in physical offense and defense, and very little armor at the outset.
- Wanderer: (Soul Level 6) Melee fighter that specializes in lighter armor and Dexterity-based weapons.
- Barbarian: (Soul Level 9) Physically powerful with very high HP, but only comes equipped with two clubs and no armor. Has the highest starting soul level, tied with the Thief.
- Thief: (Soul Level 9) Lightly armed with a dagger and Dark Leather armor. Starts with very high Luck and Dexterity, along with a high Soul Level.
- Temple Knight: (Soul Level 4) A holy warrior who wields a halberd and casts healing miracles. Comes exceptionally well-armored with a suit of Mirdan Scale.
- Royalty: (Soul Level 1) Usually considered the easiest starting class. Lacking in stats, but has very rare starting gear such as an MP-regenerating ring, and can cast a fairly powerful, easy-to-use attack spell (Soul Arrow). The low Soul Level is also helpful to experienced players, as it allows more control over stat progression.
Starting Class Stats
Demon's Souls plays a bit differently from most other hack'n'slash games. The combat system seems rather basic at first, but is very intuitive. It shows itself to be very intricate and robust, allowing for immense flexibility to adjust to the individual's play style.
- The player can do a light attack, heavy attack, block, parry, backstab, riposte, and a dodging-roll - all behaving differently based on what equipment the player currently has on.
- Crossbows can be shot at range, while bows allow faster shooting and the option of manual first-person aiming.
- The player can cast a range of offensive and defensive magic spells with catalysts, and ask for miracles from God to heal, protect, or attack with talismans.
- To defeat demons, the player must learn to use the right weapon against the right enemy. Enemies each have unique weaknesses to certain attacks, spells, and usable items, while being strongly resistant to others. It is not wise to attack an armored enemy with a blade, nor is it efficient to use fire attacks on enemies made out of fire.
- The Nexus: Hub world, from which to access the 5 other worlds. Contains helpful NPCs that sell items, upgrade weapons and let you level up. In here you are also totally safe from Black Phantoms.
- Boletarian Palace (World 1). Uniquely divided into 4 sections, as opposed to 3. Once the Palace of King Allant, it is now overrun by ghoulish humanoids and fierce Red- and Blue Eyed Knights. It is also home to two fire-breathing dragons, raining death from above. Deep within the Palace you can find Yuria the Witch.
- Stonefang Tunnel (World 2). A network of mines, guarded by bosses that favor flame attacks. Best bring fire protection! Also contains a nest of Crystal Geckos. Home also to the immensely helpful Blacksmith Ed. Most enemies here use the same style of attack and have the same weaknesses, so equipment strategies are best worked out here.
- Tower of Latria (World 3). A prison tower. A cruel, inhospitable place rising up above a swamp. Powerful magical sentries guard the halls, with the upper spires the domain of evil gargoyles. Sage Freke is imprisoned here. This world is not a place to learn how to fight, but rather a place to hone your skills once you've learned the controls and mechanics of your character.
- Shrine of Storms (World 4). An ancient mausoleum and burial ground surrounded by jagged, wind-swept cliffs. Home to agile skeletons, cruel Reapers that summon wraiths, and the occasional flying manta ray (Be ready to dodge as these like to attack you randomly). Within its bowels you may find Saint Urbain.
- Valley of Defilement (World 5). Possibly the most dangerous place of all, where the very environment is hostile. An atmosphere of decrepitude, decay, disease, and constant rain. Enemies include corrupted humanoids, insects, rats, and worse. Poison and plague are a common hazard here. Not for the inexperienced. Fire is helpful through most of this world.
Soul Form and Body Form
At the start of the game, the player is in Soul form. In Soul form, the player has 50% of his total HP (75% with a ring found early on in the first level, the Cling Ring) but deals more damage to enemies. By killing a Boss, the player regains their body. In addition to having full HP and dealing less damage, the player can then also summon other players as Blue Phantoms to help him. However, the player can also be invaded by malicious Black Phantoms, other players that try to kill you. So if you want to prevent this, you'll have to stay in Soul Form. Additionally, when in Body Form, dying will cause a shift of World Tendency towards Black (explained later). Killing a Boss will result in a shift of World Tendency towards White.
Souls are the universal form of currency in the game. They are used for buying items, upgrading weapons and levelling up your character. Every enemy killed grants Souls, as does killing a Boss. You can also find Souls as items which you can use to gain a fixed amount of Souls. When you die in either Form, the Souls you were carrying are dropped where you died. You can then try to pick them up again, but should you die again before picking them up, those Souls are gone forever. In short, you can only regain the Souls you dropped the last time you died. Boss Demons have unique Souls which can be used to upgrade weapons, learn unique Magic or Miracles, or all of the above, so you'll have to make some tough decisions.
Below is a table listing each world's bosses in their likely order of appearance, the souls which they drop when slain, and the possible uses of each soul. Note that every soul can be consumed for souls if not used for another purpose.
|Tutorial||Vanguard*||Grey Demon's Soul||Dozer Axe weapon; consumed for 1,500 souls|
|Boletarian Palace||Phalanx||Lead Demon's Soul||Scraping Spear weapon; consumed for 1,520 souls|
|Red Dragon*||Small Flame Scale Demon's Soul||Consumed for 10,000 Souls|
|Tower Knight||Iron Demon's Soul||Warding magic; consumed for 4,400 souls|
|Penetrator||Silver Demon's Soul||Light Weapon magic; Cursed Weapon magic; consumed for 36,000 souls|
|Blue Dragon*||Large Flame Scale Demon's Soul||Consumed for 30,000 souls|
|False King Allant||False King's Demon's Soul||Northern Regalia weapon; consumed for 60,000 souls|
|Stonefang Tunnel||Armor Spider||Hard Demon's Soul||Lava Bow weapon; Fire Spray magic; Ignite magic; consumed for 3,200 souls|
|Flamelurker||Red Hot Demon's Soul||Give to NPC to Unlock Unique Weapon Upgrades; consumed for 18,000 souls|
|Dragon God||Dragon Demon's Soul||Fireball magic; Firestorm magic; God's Wrath miracle; consumed for 26,400 souls|
|Tower of Latria||Fool's Idol||Doll Demon's Soul||Soul Ray magic; consumed for 7,600 souls|
|Maneater||Mixed Demon's Soul||Needle of Eternal Agony weapon; consumed for 19,600 souls|
|Old Monk||Yellow Demon's Soul||Insanity Catalyst weapon; Homing Soul Arrow magic; Soul Thirst magic; Banish miracle; consumed for 26,400 souls|
|Shrine of Storms||Vanguard*||Grey Demon's Soul||Dozer Axe weapon; consumed for 1,500 souls|
|Adjudicator||Swollen Demon's Soul||Meat Cleaver weapon; Regeneration miracle; consumed for 13,200 souls|
|Old Hero||Hero Demon's Soul||Large Sword of Searching weapon; Second Chance Miracle; consumed for 36,000 souls|
|Storm King||Storm Demon's Soul||Morion Blade; Anti-Magic Field magic; consumed for 48,000 souls|
|Valley of Defilement||Leechmonger||Wriggling Demon's Soul||Poison Cloud magic; Cure miracle; consumed for 6,400 souls|
|Dirty Colossus||Eroded Demon's Soul||Acid Cloud magic; consumed for 40,000 souls|
|Maiden Astraea||Pureblood Demon's Soul||Blueblood Sword weapon; Death Cloud magic; Relief miracle; Resurrection miracle; consumed for 48,000 souls|
|Old One's Prison||Maiden in Black's Demon's Soul||Soulsucker magic; consumed for 60,000 souls|
|Beast's Demon's Soul||Consumed for 200,000 Souls|
Equipment weight and Stamina
All equipment has a weight value associated with it. A character has a limit to the weight of his currently equipped gear, which you can increase by raising your Endurance statistic. When you are over half of that limit, your movement will be somewhat sluggish and you won't be able to roll nimbly. On the flipside, heavier armor provides more protection.
Stamina is what is used for all your actions. Sprinting, attacking, rolling, defending, everything costs stamina. When you're out of stamina your only option is to simply run. Stamina regenerates fast, however the heavier your armor, the slower it regenerates. Stamina can also be increased by leveling your Endurance stat, though this benefit stops after Endurance 40. Equipment weight has a big impact on how your character plays. Bigger, heavier weapons are also slower to use and cost more stamina to swing, but do more damage.
Starting out, each world has a neutral tendency. By killing bosses or Black Phantoms, you can shift the tendency towards White, and by dying in Body Form or killing helpful NPC's, you shift it towards Black. By reaching Pure Black or Pure White World Tendency, specific events are unlocked, such as doors opening or Unique weapons appearing. Some characters may turn up and either offer you side quests, or try to kill you, depending on Tendency. Also it effects the challenge of the game itself as well as drop rates. The whiter the tendency the players HP is penalized less in soul form and the player does more damage and drop rates increase on healing items, the blacker the tendency the enemies hit harder but release more souls on death and drop rates increase on rare items.
Note that World Tendency is affected by multiplayer, which is the server's median and changes depending on what others are doing. An example: If a majority of the players in the game are doing things in the world to change their tendency to black, this will affect the median appropriately, and likewise for white. The server median is based on sessions, so once you quit the game, the server median tendency is lost to you. It should also be noted that if you play online it will reset your World Tendencies to one level below White, so if you plan to do the Pure World Tendency events you should play the game offline by not logging into PSN.
Similar to World Tendency, certain actions will shift the tendency of your own character. Killing invading Black Phantoms or using the Resurrection spell on Blue Phantoms will bring you closer towards white , while killing certain NPC's or assassinating other players as a Black Phantom will shift you towards Black. Some weapons deal bonus damage based on your tendency, and you can earn unique rings for either Pure Black or Pure White Tendency. Lastly there is also a special NPC that only becomes available when a characters tendency is pure Black and certain extra conditions are met.
|Lifecycle||Game Difficulty||Compared to NG|
|NG||Game difficulty has no modifier.||+ 0%|
|NG+||Difficulty increased by approximate 40% compared to NG (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 40%|
|NG++||Difficulty increased by approximate 8% compared to NG+ (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 51.2 %|
|NG+++||Difficulty increased by approximate 8% compared to NG++ (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 63.3 %|
|NG4+||Difficulty increased by approximate 8% compared to NG+++ (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 76.4 %|
|NG5+||Difficulty increased by approximate 8% compared to NG4+ (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 90.5 %|
|NG6+||Difficulty increased by approximate 8% compared to NG5+ (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 105.7 %|
|NG7+||Difficulty increased by approximate 8% compared to NG6+ (Neutral CT assumed)||+ 122.2 %|
Note: From the 8th playthrough onwards, the difficulty will not increase.
The game has a somewhat unique implementation of both player-versus-player and cooperative multiplayer. When in Body Form, the player can summon other players as Blue Phantoms to help, and other players can even jump into your game as black phantoms and try to assassinate you. At one point in the game a certain boss may even be replaced by a black phantom. To play in co-op mode you use your Blue Eye Stone while you are in Soul Form to create a blue soul sign which living players can see and interact with to summon you. To invade the game of a player in Body form you use your Black Eye Stone while you are in Soul form. Lastly there is a special Red Eye Stone that works exactly like the Blue Eye Stone except when you are summoned you are a Black Phantom, this stone is primarily used for organizing duels. The Red Eye Stone has two other unique traits, it is the only stone that can be used to create a soul sign when the player is in body form (your HP if summoned will revert to soul forum levels), and anyone killed by someone summoned via the Red Eye Stone will lose a level; likewise the Black Phantom summoned this way also loses a level if they die regardless of how it happens.
- One host can summon up to 2 players to play Cooperatively in most sections of the game.
- There is a thorough messaging system that allows players to leave hints, advice, or even tricks meant to help or deceive others. Messages rated as helpful will heal the player who created them.
- Bloodstains will appear which show a 10 second segment of what a player was doing just before they died.
- A player can "invade" another player's game and engage in direct PvP, in one case it is even possible for a player to take the place of one of the bosses.
- Upon finishing the game it is possible to receive an item which allows for mutual agreed upon PVP fights.
King's Field reference
Demon's Souls being called the spiritual successor to the King's Field series, From Software has nodded to the series with a few Easter Eggs.
- Among mentioned is the Legendary Moonlight Knight Bito of the King's Field games, he is also incorrectly called Vito in one instance.
- A "Large Sword of Moonlight" an obvious homage to the Moonlight Sword featured in all King's Field games can be found in Demon's Souls.
- Similarities between the status and inventory screens
- The only character in Demon's Souls to start at level 1 is the Royalty, similarly every playable character in the King's Field series starts at level 1 and is a member of the nobility
On its release day in Japan, the limited run of copies sold out instantly prompting From Software to have a second release date for another run of the game because of its unforeseen popularity. There are currently five different releases of the game: Japanese, Korean, Asian/Chinese, North American, and most recently a European release. Both the Korean and Chinese/Asian version of the game have been highly sought out by importers due to the fact they are in full English; the menus, dialogue and subtitles are in English; however, the Manual and Boxart is not. As of May 20th, 2009, Atlus U.S.A. stepped in as publisher for an official North American release of Demon's Souls and offered a collectors edition to promote buying its version instead of just importing the game, the joking called it the "Stop Importing It Edition"; Demon's Souls was officially released in North America on October 7th, 2009.
Interestingly enough Demon's Souls went on to sell more copies in NA than in any of its other releases to date and is currently the all time highest selling release by Atlus U.S.A. (surpassing even Persona 4). As reported by 1UP.com at the Game Developers Conference 2010, an employee of Sony's Japanese branch named Yeonkyung Kim spoke at a panel on the US localization. He was quoted as saying "That was a mistake, It should have come out as a first-party title." in reference to Sony's decision not to release Demon's Souls outside Japan after seeing how successful it had been in the NA market.
On September 15, 2010, Atlus U.S.A. made an official announcement on their forums. Demon's Souls had reached a milestone as a successful title and would be re-released as a PS3 Greatest Hits title with new box art showing off its 2009 game of the year award from Gamespot and a new $29.99 MSRP. This is the first, and to date only, PS3 Greatest Hits title released by Atlus U.S.A..
North American release
There are a few changes that Atlus applied to the North American release. In addition to a standard edition of the game, Atlus also released a Deluxe Edition for an extra $10, containing a 150 page strategy guide and unique packaging. Those who pre-ordered either the standard or limited editions also received the full soundtrack and a 40 page art book. The game was released on October, 7th, 2009.
- Released with all patches from the Asian version on disc.
- Tidying up spelling errors and punctuation as well as more accurate English translations.
- North American servers.
On April 16th 2010 Namco Bandai stated that they would be releasing Demon's Souls in Europe. Much like the release in North America, there will be a Special edition of the game called the "Black Phantom Edition" and it will contain an art book, strategy guide and a soundtrack CD. The strategy guide is the work of the fan made Demon's Souls Wikidot website which was created by importers of the original Asian release. This version of Demon's Souls was released on June 25th, 2010 complete with its own set of unique European servers.
The original score for Demon's Souls was composed by Shunsuke Kida.
|03||Tales of Old||2:23|
|04||Maiden in Black||4:30|
|09||Old King Allant||3:00|
|22||The Old One||2:37|
|23||One Who Craves Souls||4:13|
|24||Return to Slumber||4:23|
It is worth noting the names of the tracks and their actual in-game presentation do not match in all cases. For example, The Penetrator encounter in-game features the music from the Tower Knight track of the CD.The famous Japanese singer KOKIA also performed two songs for the game: KARMA & Ningen tte sonna mono ne.