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

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 One of the greatest misconceptions about last year’s critically acclaimed Playstation 3 exclusive, Demon’s Souls, is that it is only meant for those that most will refer to as hardcore gamers. I myself am not a hardcore gamer, far from it. I am pretty hardcore when it comes to watching trailers and reading the latest gaming news, but actual gaming seldom takes place. Still, Demon’s Souls swallowed me whole.   It also made a habit of spitting me out but never without leaving me determined to get back into its desolate and undeniably relentless world.

Don’t take me wrong, Demon’s Souls is harsh.  It’s levels are filled to the brim with basically anything that may end your sorry existence. Some might argue that you get very little in return for exposing yourself to all these dangers.   The game is determined to punish you for every wrong decision you make. If you do manage to avoid such mistakes, there is very little to be gained other than not dying. Therein lies the beauty of Demon’s Souls. Where other games tend to reward the slightest effort by handing out weapons, abilities, skillpoints, armor and more ways of making things easier for the player, Demon’s Souls only ever offers one true reward.   You get to live.

The best and only way to get this reward is not to die. I have yet to see another game that takes such a unique approach to the reward system. By constantly rewarding the player ‘s survival skills and immediately punishing the lack thereof, Demon’s Souls ultimately achieves a fair gaming experience.   Furthermore, it allows for total immersion as the player is forced to focus on staying alive, rather than exploring the mechanics of the game.    

I will conclude my passionate review with an example that fits perfectly with how well crafted this game truly is. Let us consider the concept of a tutorial. Most games have the courtesy to hold your hand for a while, to explain the basic premise of the game and more importantly what is expected of you as a player. When you progress through the game however, you will come to realize that the tutorial really only showed you the absolute minimum of what you can do. Now enter the tutorial of Demon’s Souls.   The basic offensive, defensive and evasive moves are laid down before you. The game lets your practice these skills for a short while, to give you at least some affinity with its battle system. It is around the time you start to get the hang of your characters abilities that Demon’s Souls shows you that your recently acquired skills are far from what is needed to complete the game. However, these moves are all that you will get. As you wake up in the Nexus, the central hub in the game,   a gaping head wound caused by the tutorial’s boss reminds you that this game is not going to throw you any bones, only if they will kill you.        

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