People often complain that gaming is getting too easy. First it was level select passwords, then save files, followed by checkpoints, infinite lives, save states, and respawning. Over the years it’s become easier and easier to pick up from where you started, throwing the concept of starting from the beginning after failure from the graces of the gaming table.
Demon’s Souls said, “Fuck that.”
Even for those who have overcome the devious Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls is a new level of torture. Reintroducing the concept of death resulting in serious and long lasting consequence, Demon’s Souls captured the hearts of PS3 owners around the globe, when From Software deemed Europe worthy of the games presence anyway. Death would not only result in losing all your souls, which work as both experience and currency, but would cause you to permanently lose your pain painstakingly acquired experience should you die a further time in your attempt to get back to where you initial snuffed it.
Did I mention that, unlike Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls will also half your stats, including vitality when you lose your humanity? Or that health potions don’t regenerate at checkpoints, and are instead simply consumable items? Or that those Bonfire checkpoints that were so handy in Dark Souls are non-existent in Demon’s Souls? Oh, and let’s not forget world tendencies, which can turn the difficulty up, but provide larger rewards.
As vicious as it is to take several hours of progress away from you should you make a few mistakes, few games feel so rewarding. Despite fiendish traps and lethal enemies, the game always felt fair and when you overcame a creature larger than any house you could afford a mortgage on, you knew it was you defeated it, not some scripted plan of attack. Your limitations were clear and the fighting mechanics, while clunky, were clear and simple to use. The true brilliance of the combat is not so much what you can do, but what the enemy can do; it keeps the gameplay fresh, despite a quite simplistic setup. Players very quickly will learn what their options are, and the thrill of going on the defensive until you understand the extent of your opponent, all the while knowing that death is just one incorrect button press away… well, it’s incomparable.
Let’s just hope that if you are buying the titles off the 25-in-25 list with your new PS3, the servers are still up and running (which they are right now), as without them you miss out on perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Demon’s Souls. Allowing players to interact with one another by leaving messages while never physically entering their world turned out to be simply inspired. From handy hints to the trolling-est of trolling, the communication in Demon’s Souls added another tense aspect to the already dangerous landscape. Depend on the support of your fellow man and trust that he is saving you from death, or realize that this is the internet and strangers are just waiting to laugh it up when you kill yourself in a tragic moment of gullibility?
Worst comes to worst, you could always lose your temper and invade someone else’s game as a Black Phantom, stab them up, and make that person’s day just as bad as your own. That’s always an option.
I’d say that Dark Souls is the more refined game and probably the one to buy if faced with the two. However, discounting Demon’s Souls simply on the grounds that there is a superior sequel would be like never playing Mario 3 after playing Mario World. I’ve actually discovered after jumping back into Demon’s Souls prior to this article to refresh my memory, that strangely, Demon’s Souls runs more smoothly than Dark Souls. To be honest, having recently completed Dark Souls again, jumping back onto Demon’s Souls was a bit of a mistake, as I’m absolutely hooked. If any reviews are late, you now know why!
You can find more articles in our 25-in-25 series over here, and stayed tuned tomorrow for another look at a great PS3 title!