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

Demon's Souls Review

 Demon’s Souls. That’s a name I have been recommending a lot lately to my friends. At the same time, I have also been warning them. It’s an epic game on a grand scale, I will say, but along with that you have to mention the painstakingly difficult task it is to get started, and even greater difficulty to finish.

At its roots, it is a hack’n’slash set in a twisted medieval fantasy world, devoured by “The Fog”. The story sets out with your created hero stepping foot into the region ravaged by said Fog, and ultimately dying within the first ten minutes. The death is intentional though, and opens up the Nexus, a temple that will serve as your hub for the rest of the game. Although the story is setup well at the beginning, don’t expect it to much more after that. In fact, only a few cut scenes will portray the story progressing throughout the game, but like Shadow of the Colossus, this is done artistically. It really gives you a sense of abandonment, and allows you to use your imagination when filling in the blank lines of the story.

When creating your character, there are a plethora of classes to choose from. These are whittled down to Melee, Archery, and Spellcasting. These will be the foundation of how you approach the games many enemies, and while you can dabble in multiple areas, it really pays off to stick with one and level it all the way. You will be outfitted with the appropriate weapons and armor, and be thrust into the wild. Naturally, many will start with the first world, but Demon’s Souls is unique in that it allows you to pick any of the five worlds, each with about 3-4 levels / bosses.

One of the first things you will notice is the great amount detail put into the weapons and armor, depending on the class. The Knight’s shield and starting armor have an enormous amount of detail packed in, and it’s a good thing, because you will be seeing a lot of it. You will get new weapons more often than armor and the options available range from swords, to maces, to spears… all the way to cat-claws and dual wielding any of the above. Oh, and you can also choose to use two hands on any single handed weapon for an increase in power. None of this would matter if the controls sucked, but lucky, they are some of the best in the business for this genre of game. While not overly complicated, you quickly learn that you can do a variety of different moves with each style of weapon, and you will soon find exactly what fits your personality.

But let’s go back to the difficulty for a second. Don’t underestimate this game, or you will be buying new controllers left and right. It is punishingly difficult, but not in a cheap way. When you die, you feel like you know exactly what you did wrong, or how you can improve it next time. While the first playthrough may last awhile, this will mainly be because you have to go through the same area again, new enemies and all.

You can enlist up to two allies if you are in your corporeal self, and have them help your game out… or the other way around, and offer your assistance to others in need and in return collect souls, and “experience” of how to beat a level. You won’t be able to talk to these allies, but a clear objective is always in mind, and you can follow them if you don’t know what to do. There is also the ability to invade another person’s game, giving you a chance to get your body back if you defeat said person. Just be cautious, because regaining your human form will recover you back to full health (50% when in soul form), but also put you at risk of being invaded.

Overall, Demon’s Souls is a AAA exclusive for Playstation 3. It went under the radar for most, but has snuck up into this writer’s top five favorite games list. Now if you’d excuse me, there are more demons to kill.

8.1 - Presentation: The story isn’t presented in the best of ways, but not much of a negative when everything else is done awesomely.

9.3 - Graphics: Armor, weapons, enemies, and environments look great. Occasional frame rate issues aside, one of the best looking PS3 games.

9.0 - Sound: Roars from seven story beasts shake your surround sound, while screams will chill you to the bone.

9.5 - Gameplay: Controls work great, but maybe a little too hard for some people.

9.0 - Longevity: Will take you many hours for the first playthrough, but this is mainly due to replaying parts over again due to deaths. You will want to play again, though.

- Overall: 9/10

Afterthoughts (no effect on final score): Purchased for $64, and worth every penny… seriously. The trophies aren’t extremely varied, but who needs ‘em in a game where every small victory feels like an achievement.

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