Review: Demon's Souls
So, Demon's Souls. This game was released in February 2009 in Japan, March in Asia which also had a English language option, America in September. And finally Europe in June 2010.
So, as you can see this game is nearly one and a half years old. Due to this many people imported the Asian version or the American version. But even so, the game still did extremely well in the UK especially. Coming 6 in the Charts beating the likes of Transformers and Just dance(!)
I was thinking of buying this game as soon as it came out in America, it became a cult hit of sorts there. But alas, I waited patiently.
So, Demon's Souls is not an ordinary game, well. Not one that you see today anyway. This game is brutal. And I do not kid when I say it's brutal. This game can and will kick your ass. Most modern game developers want to make games more accessible these days, whereas FROM Software tosses all that out and makes you appreciate games again.
Video games today are generally more easy then they were in say. The 90's in the platformer days. games like the Mega Man series were hard, but not unfair. When you die, it's your fault and you know it. The same goes for Demon's Souls. Which is hard to say for a videogame these days because of the shift into 3D and general mainstreaming of gaming.
There is hardly any story to speak of in Demon's Souls. Usually I would list this as a bad thing but I think it works very well here as not much really needs to be explained. The Atmosphere of the game kind of fuels the whole story and the setting. I think that It would be nice if there was more dialogue in the game or more story elements. But I don't think it was a necessary thing to do to enjoy the game. The Gameplay is what makes this game.
What Demon's Souls also doesn't do is hold your hand through the whole game like say, Assassins Creed. You have a single level tutorial and that's it. You're on your own. Not to mention you get mauled in one hit by a boss at the end of said tutorial and die like a bitch.
Dying in Demon's Souls is a big deal unlike most games today. Basically, you have two forms in this game. Body form and Soul Form. In body form you have Full health. And when you die, you enter Soul form, where you have half health. And to get Body form back again, you have to defeat a boss or Have a Stone of Ephemeral eyes, which are extremely rare. Another consequence of dying is that you lose all of your “souls” which is your currency and experience points, and they are left at the point where you died. But you only have one shot at getting them back. Because your bloodstain disappears. And with hat all of your souls. So yeah, dying matters. A LOT.
You start right back at the start of the level too. So you have to trek your way through the whole level, get to your bloodstain and regain your souls and then progress. It's harsh, gritty, full of atmosphere and the danger of even normal enemies around the corner waiting to ambush you makes you put thought into your every move and step. It's a magnificent thing that is generally not done in many other games today.
Dying is just a small part of the gameplay in Demon's Souls. The actual play is taken from a third person perspective, and shares a lot of parallels with the 3-D Zelda Series, with locking on and focusing on one enemy rather then most other third person action games such as God Of war and Dynasty Warriors. It's also similar to Oblivion in the fact that you use stamina and Magic to time your attacks, but the Actual battle and attack system is a lot more refined and is possibly the most balanced, perfect battle system I know. When you get countered and your guard has broken, you know you could have done that better and not gotten hit. Dodging and rolling is tight too, you know how far, how long it will take and will help you calculate your strategies accordingly.
When you mess up in timing your attack or whatever, you KNOW it's your fault. There are a plethora of different enemies in Demon's Souls and none of them are crappy reskins, you have to Learn the patterns of the enemies and fight accordingly. If you expect slash slash run run win win, you're don't know what you're getting into.
Online in Demon's Souls is a very unique experience. You can watch other players play through the same level as you as a white ghost in their own realm, and read messages that they have left for you on the floor. You can even touch their bloodstain and see the last 30 seconds of their life. It's a fantastic addition to the game. Direct player interaction is done by summoning someone into your world as a blue phantom or going into someone elses world as a blue phantom to help then In a level.
This is fantastic as Help from other players is always helpul. And they also get their body back if they Beat the boss with you during the level. On the flipside of this is Black Phantoms. Who can break into your world and hunt you down. It's exhillarating being invaded by another black phantom. I had a duel with someone that lasted well over an hour. It was like nothing I had ever experienced in a game before, We were both fighting for our Lives and souls. It's the same rush you get while fighting someone in a fighting game like street fighter but more intense.
The Graphics in Demon's Souls are good, not phenomenal. But Adequate for the whole style and setting, which is In a seemingly medieval kingdom. And I feel that it takes a lot of it's style from Morrowind or Oblivion, both which are made by western developers and both in the Elder scrolls series. For a one and a half year old game. I think for it's time it was damn good. However the Anti aliasing in the game is bad and you can seelots of Jaggy pixels on weapons and some stages, it's something I want them to improve on in the inevitable sequel.
So, Music. This game came with it's soundtrack in the “Black Phantom Edition” version of the game and there isn't actually much music in the game itself. In the stages there is actually no music. Which is nice for atmosphere and all. But I find myself listening to other music that fits in with Demon's Souls (Susumu Hirasawa)
But when you DO hear music is during boss fights. And because of the scarcity of music in the game, when you do hear it. It gets you pumped for the upcoming fight. It adds a whole other level of atmosphere due to that technique of scarcity with the music. A great example of how it feels is to read my Demon's Souls experience beloe, I think that it portrays how music fits into the game perfectly.
In retrospect, Demon's Souls is the best game I have ever played, the mechanics are all tight. The Boss fights feel like Boss fights. It's brutal, and also the hardest game I have ever played. It's very hard to find flaws in this game. This game is truly a classic. FROM Software really pushed the boundaries of game design with this. And I applaud them for that. Demon's Souls is a must have for anyone that owns a PS3. Seriously. You will either love or hate this game. The Challenge that it puts you through really shows the true nature of this generation of checkpoints and no game overs.
It's a Niche title. But If you stick with it, it really pays off.