Reader Review: Demon’s Souls

Reader Review: Demon’s Souls

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Justin does, as he tends toward full black.

Yes, that’s right, we’re publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Justin Robson. If you’ve played Demon’s Souls, or just want to ask Justin more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Demon’s Souls (PS3)

It’s difficult to say anything about Demon’s Souls that hasn’t already been said… it’s a hard game to play and to review! And that says a lot. (Promising start! – Ed.)

Loved Difficulty: Demon’s Souls is an extremely old school experience which, unlike most modern games that hold your hand, leaves no room for error. When you die, you lose all your souls (the game’s currency) and go back to the start of the level. You have to be very switched on to play, and it all comes down to you, the player; you’re not justified in getting frustrated and throwing the controller, as every time you die it comes down to some direct decision/wrong move you’ve made. There’s always a way through, you’ve just got to be clever enough to figure it out!

Level Progression: Demon’s Souls is a seriously non-linear game. It’s based around a hub level called the Nexus, and in true old school fashion, you can go into each of the game’s five worlds regardless of whether you’re ready or not. You don’t find checkpoints in the traditional sense, but shortcuts. Enemies respawn every time you restart the section, and you need to inch yourself forward through the levels, making small amounts of progress at a time. It isn’t a matter of merely reaching the next section, and this is what sets Demon’s Souls apart from the rest.

Combat: The combat is deceptively simple, with basic light and heavy attacks, block, parry and a lock-on system for ranged attacks/spells. It requires speed, timing and persistence and, as with the difficulty curve of the game itself, it never comes down to luck.

Music: Some of the sound effects are very tacky Japanese late nineties sounding – main menu sound effects, I’m looking at you! – but the music is amazing. It’s percussion oriented and you’ll hear individual instruments as opposed to some epic Hollywood score. The music, most noticeably during boss battles, beautifully reflects the brutality of the combat in ways a lot of other games don’t manage to achieve.

Online options: There’s no clear cut online mode in Demon’s Souls, rather subtle ways of interacting with other similar players. You can leave messages, to either warn or mislead others, and view ghostly recreations of other player’s deaths. There is a PvP mode, but again, it’s hardly up to you when you get to use it.

Hated Unforgiving: Demon’s Souls is an extremely acquired taste, and it really doesn’t screw around. It’s nice to be challenged, but it does come across as too much too soon. While you could argue that the challenge is fair, if you were to attempt this game without any kind of guide or strategy, you’d get stuck fast, as a lot is left unexplained for you to figure out on your own. It’s a game to play to challenge yourself, not to relax. When you do really well in an area, you might find you don’t want to progress for fear of messing it all up, and because of this more than anything, it can be a slow game to progress through.

Character Creation: It’s easy to make a character that sounds great on paper, but is near useless when it comes to playing the game. You might want to check out a character creation guide first. Equally, it’s basically impossible to make a character that doesn’t look like it’s got Down syndrome. Thankfully, there are plenty of helmets to choose from!

Demon’s Souls is not a holiday blockbuster, and it doesn’t conform to any kind of current RPG conventions. Yes, it’s stupidly difficult and unforgiving at times, but it’s the kind of rewarding gameplay experience that makes it so memorable and heavily repayable. You can take my word for all of this, but you still might hate the game. However, if you’re genuinely intrigued by its format and difficulty curve, and you’re up to the challenge, you’ll easily see why it’s one of the best RPGs of this generation of consoles.

Reviewed by: Justin Robson

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • I really should get this game. I just fear that if I do I’ll rage-quit and it’ll never be played again. And that’ll waste money. And wasting money is bad.

  • This game is sensational. It was my runner-up GOTY last year (just pipped by Uncharted 2), but thanks to its getting a PAL release this year, it’s in with a shot at GOTY again! 🙂

  • I love this game (thanks Kotaku!). I have limited time to play it and can’t play it when I’m tired or I tend to make careless mistakes. I’m thinking of setting up the PS3 in my office so I can dedicate a good 8 hours to it.

  • I found the key to this game was the shield. Use one. Although you can’t block every attack (as it burns up a stamina bar, which will regen slowly over time), you can block and dodge enough to get the feel of combat against the target in front of you.

    Once you get the combat down right, I found it a fairly simple game, loved every minute of it.

      • I found a good shield to use as a mage is the knight’s shield. It totally has 100% physical blocking so you won’t incur any damages from any physical attacks. So if youre too weak to get the flame purple shield or brushwood, the knights shield is good for you. The blue knights drop it and best way to get it is after you finished 1-2, keep going back to the Tower Knight archstone and backstab the two blue knights near the bridge.

        Not only will you be getting the shield, but they drop a hefty amount of souls at that point in the game and also half-moon grass.

      • Pfffft, Riposte is for those jerks who can actually time their movement.
        Turtling behind a shield and a spear is the only way to go.


        • Oops, I may have, uh, forgotten to change my name.
          Not to say that I, Corey Lee’s Girlfriend’s Mother, don’t play Demon’s Souls though. (Wow, is that even grammatically correct? It looks and sounds so wrong)
          We can talk about it over my birthday dinner! \o/

        • I agree but not every class can use large weapons.

          Also, I hope you’re not gonna pretend to be my girlfriend’s mother’s doppelganger forever…

  • I’ve been playing this game regularly.

    PvP is fun and sometimes hilarious.

    First time I invaded someone’s game, he killed me after a long 10-15 min battle as I ran out of healing grass.
    Second time, my opponent trapped me in a small corridor and switched to a sword as I was using a halberd.
    Third time, I snuck up from behind and slashed the guy off a ledge in the Stonefang tunnels. He then fell to this horrible death and I recovered to my full body

  • I spent 16 hours on my first character, and I only beat the first boss, and had black tendancy on all the worlds.

    6 hours into my second character, and a lot of youtubing later, I’m still loving this game.

  • Who the hell is Ed? Hahaha… or is that editor? xD

    *blonde moment*

    And well, I find it hard to do those little introductory sentences without sounding like I’m trying to sell the game, so I chose to write something a little less generic and more neutral.

  • I recently picked this up too and I must say that for all if the frustration it has dished out, I’m compelled to persevere. Bring the punishment!!!

    I have avoided RPG’s for years however Demon’s Souls isn’t your typical RPG game I guess. I have now spent about 4 hours on my Knight and I have just entered the second world of the burrowers. It certainly isn’t a “mindless” game, you really do have to be on the ball each and every second. Love it!!!

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