majormitch's Demon's Souls (PlayStation 3) review

So the world might be mended

Demon's Souls is easily one of the most gripping games I've ever played. Every part of the game's design is meant to keep you in the moment, and it provides a stiff challenge that will constantly keep you on the edge of your seat. And yet, with all its intricacies and difficulties, Demon's Souls still manages to be incredibly rewarding. This is a game like no other, making Demon's Souls something special that I feel compelled to recommend to any self respecting fan of RPGs.

Demon's Souls has garnered a lot of attention for being a ridiculously hard game. After finishing the game for myself, I'll have to say that I feel that assessment to be a little off. Demon's Souls is not so much hard as it is strict. If you rush ahead without paying attention, expect to get punished for it. This is a game that simply refuses to hold your hand, and manages to be a much more rewarding experience as a result. Everything you accomplish is due to your own perseverance, and it's really satisfying when you get through those areas that initially felt overwhelming. What's especially impressive is that Demon's Souls gives itself every opportunity to be incredibly frustrating, yet rarely ever is. This is the kind of game that when you die, it's very obviously your own fault. It's easy to see exactly where you went wrong, and it's easy to figure out how to avoid making the same mistake again. As such, Demon's Souls doesn't bank on cheap tricks or frustrating design to impede the player. It simply lays out a sturdy challenge, and gives you all the tools you need to overcome it in the process.

In fact, Demon's Souls gives you a hefty amount of freedom when it comes to tackling it's numerous obstacles. The entire game world opens up at the start, allowing you to explore the levels in whatever order suits your character best. The game also puts no restrictions on how you build your character. You're never stuck playing any specific role, and the game's wide variety of options ensures that everyone can find something that suits their play style. One of my favorite things about the game is how nuanced character building is. There is absolutely nothing complicated about the process, and yet you could get as involved with it as you want. My brother and I both had wildly different experiences with Demon's Souls, based purely on how we made our characters (and the order we chose to play the levels). I don't think I've ever played a game that provides so many equally viable options when it comes to character building. Demon's Souls simply nails all the balancing acts, and provides enough variety to boot.
 
I could go on and on about all the other little details that make Demon's Souls such a great experience, such as how excellent the atmosphere is, or how well it implements its unique online features. But above everything else, the central theme when it comes to Demon's Souls is how "rewarding" it is. While it can be challenging at times, and some technical hiccups and AI issues can occasionally get in the way, this is one game that never stops rewarding the player for all their hard work. And for that, Demon's Souls is not only one of the most satisfying and memorable games I've played in years, but also one of the best.
 
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.

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