I imported the Asian version of From Software’s “Demon’s Souls” a few weeks ago. I’ve been playing for about 10 hours so far and I feel I’ve gotten enough playtime I’m to formulate some feelings on the game. The first thing you’ll notice about Demon’s Souls is its difficulty, which will be extremely polarizing. You’ll either appreciate the challenge and work really hard to overcome it, or you’ll be turned off by it and never want to see this game again.
Now a bit of back story. Demon’s Souls takes place in the fictional kingdom of Boletaria, a once great nation now being ravaged by a demon scourge. As a result, people who die are trapped in what is called The Nexus. After a brief tutorial level you are thrown into a battle with a gigantic boss, who proceeds to kill you in one hit. This sets up the game’s story and gives you a bit of a taste for just how challenging the game will be. The Nexus is the game’s main hub where you can teleport to the various stages, buy or store items, and learn or upgrade skills (after you beat level 1-1).
When you start the game the only level available to you is 1-1. This serves as a time for you to learn the combat, and the basic skills in the game like dodging, attacking, and blocking. Over the course of the level you open up shortcuts which let you get back to areas deeper in the level without having to fight through the whole thing again if you die (which you most likely will). There will be enemies you just cant beat in the beginning so these shortcuts act as a path to get to various parts of the level to revisit these super enemies. Anyway, at some point in level 1 you open a large gate to the first boss. Once the first boss is dispatched all 4 other areas levels become available as well as the ability to go deeper into level 1 (and giving you a second entry point to the level in the process), it also opens up the ability to purchase skill upgrades and magic. Enter souls. Souls are the game’s money–they are used to upgrade your stats (strength, endurance, vitality, etc), buy or upgrade and fix your weapons, and purchase magical spells. Part of this games difficulty comes from the way in which souls are handled. You gain souls by defeating enemies. Weaklings can give you 6-60 souls, and bigger guys and bosses can give you thousands. If you die however, all of the souls you have at the time are dropped, but you can fight back to where you died and pick them back up, but if you die on your way there a new set of souls drop and the original (usually larger) sum disappears.
There are also various online features to the game including 4 player co-op, and a sort of MMO style online mode where you can see other players as ghosts in your world. You can also leave messages on the ground for others to read and to warn them of danger or of secret items. If you see a message that you find helpful, you can rate it which will give some life back to the person that left the message. You can also leave messages if there is a part you’re having trouble passing and passers by will be able to lend a hand by rating your message and refilling your life. This is why you’ll see a ton of “This is harsh. Evaluate me.” messages. There is even a PVP system in the game where players can force themselves into other someone else world and stalk and kill them as a phantom.
I am having a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls so far, and I cant wait to see some of the later areas in the game. Though, I think I’ll level up a little bit more first.