Five Reasons Why You'll Love Demon's Souls

Some of you will already know all about Demon's Souls, having imported it from Japan or the US last year. But many of you will be seeing it for the first time when it's released in Australia tomorrow. So what you can expect?

Demon's Souls is an action role-playing game developed by From Software for the PlayStation 3. It's not like other games. But it's precisely those differences that make it such a memorable experience.

To help you decide if Demon's Souls really is for you, below are five reasons why you'll love it. Think about what these five things mean to you and whether you enjoy them in a game. If you don't, leave Demon's Souls well alone, it's not for you. If you do, prepare to lose yourself in the harsh world of Boletaria.

You'll love Demon's Souls if you love...

Dark Fantasy: Boletaria is ever-so-grim. Dirty. Dark. Brutal. Demons have destroyed the world, decimating the population and drowning the lands in wave after wave of fog. It tells the tale of an endless troop of demon soul hunters trapped in some kind of twilight zone between the living and the dead, relentlessly searching for an escape, and dying over and over again in their struggle.

You can smell the fetid water in the dank, cobblestone dungeons. You can feel the ubiquitous fog choking you at every turn. The world is broken, littered with the decayed, rusting remnants of civilisation. The architecture is bleak and imposing and utterly, deathly cold. Almost everyone you meet is out to kill you. Final Fantasy this is not.

Building A Character: Like any good role-playing game, Demon's Souls lets you shape your character the way you want. There are ten classes to choose from at the outset, each sporting a range of different skills and abilities suited to different play styles. Broadly speaking, you have the typical melee, ranged and magic archetypes, but there are plenty of options within each to explore: your melee fighter might be a tank equipped with a heavy sword and shield or she might be lightly armoured, relying instead on nimble acrobatics.

The way the levelling system works, you're not stuck with the skills you initially chose. Your class is but a starting point from which you're free to mould your character as you see fit. Add to this the wealth of options to upgrade whatever weapons and armour you find, and it's unlikely you'll encounter two player-characters who are alike, even if they did start out as the same class.

Mastering A Challenge: Combat is never easy. Especially at the start of the game, and as you move into each new area, pretty much every enemy you face can kill you quickly if you're not on your game. The typical action-RPG throws plenty of sword-fodder at you early on as you grow accustomed to the way combat controls. Here, even the lowliest skeleton can slice you up with a couple of hits.

Combat is never about mashing buttons or delivering powerful combo attacks. Rather, it's about precise timing of each swing of your sword, about positioning your shield effectively, about knowing when to retreat and heal or use a ranged attack, about managing your stamina, and about exploiting each enemy's weaknesses. It's deliberate and tactical and demanding. You will die if you're not properly prepared.

Replaying A Game: Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the game, it's for this reason that many give up on Demon's Souls. The structure sees you only able to save your progress in the hub area known as the Nexus. Die outside and you'll be returned to the Nexus in soul form, but stripped of any progress you had made. When you step back out of the Nexus, that world you'd been exploring is (mostly) reset.

You'll spend a lot of time replaying an area until you discover its intricacies and secrets, learn how to best tackle its denizens, and grind, grind, grind for souls and gear. This creates a finely balanced risk/reward mechanic whereby you'll often retreat to the Nexus without finishing an area in order to keep all those souls and items you've earned. What stops it from becoming repetitive is this risk/reward mechanic combined with the constant threat each enemy can pose. You're rarely mindlessly hacking through an area (at least, not unless you're revisiting a really early stage with a powerful character); instead you're always revisiting a location with a strict purpose in mind.

Unconventional Online Play: Is it co-operative, competitive, massively multiplayer? The answer lies somewhere in between all three. Or perhaps all three at once. At the most basic level, you will see glyphs around the world, each one a message written by another player warning of some danger ahead or pointing you toward a treasure. You'll also see bloodstains which, upon touching them, show you how they came to be formed as another player met his doom.

Eye Stones can be used to join another player's world and either fight alongside side, helping them complete the current level, or - if you're feeling particularly callous - hunt them down and kill them. Players can also meet to simply trade items and you'll often catch glimpses of ghostly figures running around - they're other players, too.

If it all sounds like a mess, it's not. Each element - co-op and competitive, synchronous and asynchronous - gels perfectly with the world fiction. To play Demon's Souls is to devote your soul to wandering its corridors for eternity. Er... or something like that.

So... for the uninitiated out there, have I convinced you to give Demon's Souls a try?


    sorry to nit pick but that's today David

    also I do agree it is a great game, picked up on the advice of this site last year

    I cant help but feel if you really wanted would have imported months and months ago.

      Sorry and get screwed when dlc ships as region locked like with warhawk?


        You, sir, have no idea what you're talking about. No DLC has been released nor announced for Demon's Souls.

        And I'm not sure how Warhawk is relevant to the discussion.

        It's possible to register a US PSN account, provided you don't mind lying about your address. It's also possible to add US cash to it via PSN point cards.

        Not to mention there isn't any DLC.

        Seriously, the Asian release was nearly two years ago and it was in English, and the US release was nearly 9 months ago as well. The vast bulk of people really interested in this should already have it, and probably paid less than we will locally anyway. I want to know why the release has taken so long.

    I’ve got a question about the difficulty of this game. Seeing as I’m not usually a fan of a game totally kicking my ass. Does the difficulty in this game come from the fact that it was just designed to be brutal on the player? Or does it come from the player making stupid decisions? I want a game that is hard because I’m not getting it right, not because it just wants to see how long before I turn it off.

    As weird as it is, I am a big fan of the grind. I love seeing my character slowly progress and start getting through a harder area more quickly than I did the day before. So I don’t mind replaying an area over and over to build my stats.

    You’ve certainly convinced me to try a lot harder to win it. Other than that I’ll wait till it’s gone down in price a bit.

      It's not a game that's hard just to make you turn it off. If you play it carefully enough (like I did), most parts of the game won't seem that difficult. The game just doesn't leave you much room to make mistakes. The sense of achievement from completing sections doesn't really match any other game I've played, either.

        Oops. I meant to say the sense of achievement isn't matched by any other game. Retarded typo. :P

      It's definitely more on the just punishing the player for being stupid side.
      If you keep your shield up every time you're going around a corner you've been before and learn the pattern of the enemies attacks you'll have an easier time.
      Basically, be observant and you won't get your butt kicked quite so hard.

        Grr...I meant a corner you've *never* been before.

        Should have taken my own advice about being observant. :P

      Sounds like what you're really asking is if it is unfair or fair with its difficulty.

      It definitely falls into the latter camp. If you die it is your fault. No one else's. Even springing traps is the result of moving forward with reckless abandon without properly surveying your surroundings.

      With each death comes knowledge. You learn how to avoid that nasty attack that did you over, you make a mental map of dangerous areas to avoid.

      Demon's Souls is like a strict Dickensian school master. Harsh & unforgiving but with each proverbial strike of the ruler on your backside the rules the game goes to great pains to teach you are further imprinted on your backside... err... mind.

      But you do need to like hard games - you need to crave challenge. It isn't for everyone but for those it was made for... wow. What an experience.

      One aspect of the game I've come to love that David didn't mention (and it is something that is more of an advanced player element) is the manner in which your actions affect the environment. Certain actions such as invading another players world, dying, killing key NPCs, etc can affect two elements of the game - world and character tendency.

      Depending on your tendencies towards light or dark different events can open up in your game. From minor changes to increased difficulty to unique NPCs that you can't meet until your tendencies are all white or all black.

      It adds another layer of depth to an already exceptionally deep title.

      Damn I love me some Demon's Souls. :)

    Demon's Souls is the one thing putting me on the brink of buying a PS3...

      Doooo iiiit.. If you love a real challenge instead of being spoon fed, you will love Demon's Souls.

      My favourite game by far on the PS3.

    It's games like this that make me wish I had a PS3, a meaningful, tactical combat experience.
    When I finally grab a PS3, likely a slim, I'll definitely pick this up.

    This game is brutal, must have died at least 10-20 times on the first dungeon, an actual hard game that doesn't hold your hand the whole way through the sort of game.

    $89 for the Black Edition - I picked mine up today :)

    The art book is different to the one I got with my import copy (which was my only concern with this 'doubling up' purchase), and the strategy guide from the demons souls wiki is rather nice too. The red case complements the blue US edition case nicely :)

    All in all, the Aussie distributor (Bamco) did a good job, even if it is 9 months too late!

      JB in Malaga (perth) still had copies of the $89 black addition if anyone wants it. (as of 4pm :P )

      Cheers - Kactus

    This game made me buy a PS3. Almost reduced me to tears with the amount of attempts it took to down the False King boss.
    It is one of the most personally rewarding games of late.

    This game is superb. Second best game of last year for me (behind Uncharted 2). If you don't don't already have it, do yourself a favour.

    The game sounds awesome though I'm a bit hesitant about the comment that even at low levels creatures can kill you in a couple of hits. Devinity 2 was like that and it just made what would otherwise of being a good game suck. Hopfully Demon's Souls will be different.

      No need to worry. This is a very different game to Divinity and while creatures may kill you in one or two hits you can simply avoid being hit in the first place by playing smart.

    One thing i noticed some of the plot is similar to one of From Software's Previous Game Lost Kingdoms

    Blacksmith Boldwin’s Boletarian Bangers – A Specialist Smithy’s Sausage

    Fresh meat served daily.

    Has it got local servers or is it hosted on the us servers or in Europe this is what's stopping me buying another copy. I need to know because the one sad part about this game is it can have some pretty bad lag also beware the lag switchers and cable yankers for they are common in this game.

      I've not had any issues playing on the US servers.

        So servers are region based? Never been sure.

        I've also not had connectivity problems.

        Try co-op around 4-1 in soul form on a weekend or invading all night and you will see it all!

        My point really though is i will just stick to my us imported copy if it doesn't have local servers.

        Best game on the ps3 either way.

    "Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the game, it’s for this reason that many give up on Demon’s Souls. The structure sees you only able to save your progress in the hub area known as the Nexus."

    David I might be misconstruing your words here but you can 'save' outside of the Nexus. Your character and world are saved whenever you quit the game, even in the middle of a world it will put you back roughly where you were with the monsters you've killed remaining dead. It's great if you get interrupted and have to leave quickly for real world issues.

    Of course you are right about entering the Nexus - voluntarily or through death - resetting the worlds though.

    This game is pretty easy. It's hard the first time because you don't know what to do or what to expect. Once you know the map and how to fight enemies, its easy.

    I've finished the game 3 times already!!! The weapons are pretty awesome (esp Meat Cleaver, Moon Spear and Blueblood blade.

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