Demon’s Souls (2009), video game review.
I walk slowly down the dark walkway, in my hand my most powerful bow, an arrow notched. Before me I can see bloodstains of those who died here before me. Behind me is a trail of bodies, people I killed, some of them have arrows sticking out of them, and others are charred and slashed apart by me flame sword.
As I come to a crumbling stone stair I hear a terrible roar, and then fire and death are all around me. A dragon has come to meet me.
Running as fast as my legs will carry me, I find a safe spot and pull out my wand. As the dragon flies by me, this time I let him have a taste of my magic. The beast barely flinches but I know that I dealt him some damage. And so, I grit my teeth, set my pack down, and stick some more arrows in the ground before me. Now I’m ready to take on the beast.
About a half hour later the dragon flies by me, and as my Soul Arrow spell hits it in the head, the dragon shrieks, and then falls to the ground. I am…victorious.
The Good and The Bad.
The above story is a pretty accurate description of Demon’s Souls. Doing something as awe-inspiring as felling a dragon is usually a fairly easy and quick task in other games, not in Demon’s Souls. If you want to be the “Slayer of Demons” then you must be prepared to spend a lot time doing each of your tasks. On my second dragon encounter it took over 300 arrows to finally take it down, but once I did kill it, the sense of accomplishment was one that I rarely feel anymore when playing video games. And you know what, that first dragon I fought, that was on the first level.
Demon’s Souls isn’t a romanticized fantasy world, as so many are, it is a realistic and brutally difficult one. You aren’t going to be wooing any fair maidens in this world, but what you are going to be doing is stumbling around, near death, in a dark, plague infested, swamp. You’re going to be spending hours searching for a ring that will give just the right ability. But you won’t be charging headlong into a horde of enemies, only to come out victorious.
Not only are the enemies incredibility difficult, but the designers also saw fit to add a few more devilish touches to the game.
You know how in Fallout or Mass Effect if you’re ever being overwhelmed by enemies you can always just pause the game, use a healing item, or maybe switch up you’re armor. In Demon’s Souls this isn’t a very good option, you can still pause the game but even if you do the action still goes on. So if you try to pause it in the middle of battle to drink a potion, enemies can still attack you. I didn’t really mind this, it did make it so sometimes in fights I was poisoned the whole time because I hadn’t equipped an antidote, but this didn’t bother me too much. I would have like at least the option to hit the PS/Home button to pause the game, just so that if I need to go to the bathroom I wouldn’t have to run the risk of being killed while I was on the toilet.
The evil addition to the game is that if you die in a level (and there are no checkpoints) then you will first, lose all of your Souls, which act as both the currency and experience, and the second, you’re sent to the beginning of the level. Now you can get your Souls back if you go back to the spot where you died. This, although very frustrating at times, didn’t really detract from my enjoyment, but it did add tremendously to the atmosphere of tension that the game has.
Last month I tried to play the game Darksiders. And while it did a lot of cool things, the on thing that bugged me about the game was the way that it handled camera. For those of you aren’t familiar with Darksiders, it is sort of a cross between The Legend of Zelda games, and the God of War series. I loved the mix between the Zelda exploration and puzzles, and the GOW combat. But where as in GOW the game designers took the camera controls away from you, Darksiders let you control the camera yourself. This was, I think, a huge mistake. During combat I would have to find some angle that showed the most enemies and place it there, because the attack moves were all placed as face buttons.
But even though Demon’s Souls give you control of the camera, all of the attacks are placed on the L1, R1, L2, R2, buttons. So with the attack controls not trying to compete with the camera I was able to maneuver both myself, the camera angle, and fight, all at the same time.
The largest complaint that I’ll be leveling at Demon’s Souls today is that some fairly important things are barely explained in-game. Now this my not be a problem for those of you who got/get the game new, but I was only able to find the game used, and its previous owner had kept the instruction manual. Things like: World Tendency, Character Tendency, how weapon stats work, and others, I only learned how some of them worked after I had put in 20+ hours. And even then I had to look it up online. But none of these were crucial enough to make the game unplayable, it just made it so I missed out on some of the finer things.
Demon’s Souls has some of the best level design in gaming. The levels are all begging to be explored; they aren’t just linear paths, they are fairly large areas with many side areas to find and unlock. And the atmosphere is second to none. The is by far the scariest game I have ever played. Most of the time I would creep through the levels, attacking anything that moved. One time when I was playing somebody next to me asked me a question and I jumped at the sound of their voice. If you don’t like intense gaming sessions then maybe try somewhere else.
The graphics aren’t the greatest ever seen, but the also aren’t the worst. Many of them are actually pretty good, but some of them weren’t so good. In particular, some of the human character models (including that of your own character) are not very good. I don’t want to say that their bad, but there walking on a thin line.
And also I notice that the graphics lag a little it you’re moving too fast. Usually this won’t be problem, but when you ride on elevators and such things around begin to fuzz up.
While the controls are among the best I’ve used, at times I think that tweaks should have been made. For instance whenever I attacked with my longsword my character would move forward. And it was pretty hard to judge exactly how far they moved so if I had to attack something on a cliff I was gambling with me life and money. The least that the developers could have done is to have it so if you attack while standing still you don’t lunge forward.
If you’re in for a challenge, Demon’s Souls is a most-buy. It is by far the best RPG I’ve played on my PS3. Even so, there were times that I almost cried playing it. But if you like hard games, and can ignore a few minor problems Demon’s Souls is one of the best new IPs to have come out this console generation.
Visual: Some of the graphics look great, but then some of them are only average.
Sound: You’ll be jumping at every little noise, but behind all the noises is some good music.
Gameplay: Only a few hiccups hold the controls back from perfection. This is the way an third-person game should feel.
Worth Your Money: I put 33 hours in my first playthrough and I plan to play it again soon. And after you beat the game you can start over with the same character and I think all the same items, and play the game again with harder enemies. There is enough stuff that you won’t have done in one playthrough to make this worth it.
Developer: From Software.
Parental Rating: M/17+
Overall Score: 9.75/10