Released: October 2009
Downloadable Content: No
Online Play: Yes, in a manner of speaking.
Multiplayer/Co-Op: Again, kinda
Demon Souls is by far one of the most challenging yet beautiful games I have ever played. Gritty and dark, the game has a a medieval feel, with otherworldy elements. The premise of the game is a dark evil mist has fallen over a world, bringing with it unspeakable horrors and demons. Your job? Bang shit till it breaks and send those demon’s packing. Or join the demons, either way. One of the main draws of this game was it’s unforgiving difficulty and challenge. Dying will cause you to return to the beginning of a stage (respawns and all). Dying also causes you to only be able to reach a ¾ max amount of health until you defeat a boss. You can choose your armor and weapon’s, whichever feels best for your game play. You can be a leather wearing fast attacking character, who only has 2-3 hits before they die, or you could be a plate wearing tank, though with restricted movements. Item weight and your carrying limitations have to be carefully watched as the more you are burdened, the slower and less dexterous you become.
Again, visually, this game was amazing, with a great sound track to go along with it. Atlus (the games Developers) has plenty to be proud of with this game. I also have to give it to them with their creative online/multiplayer system. As part of the game, you cannot play a cooperative round with a friend. It’s meant to be completely solo. You can, however, get the chance to communicate with other players on that stage. You can choose to leave “messages” on the ground which can then be viewed by other people playing Demon’s Souls with an online connection. By choosing to approve of the message, the other player can become stronger again (if they are at the ¾ health limitation), or the messages can be words of warning to other players about upcoming surprises. It is possible to accept help from other players should someone be on the same stage as you and not have completed that particular part (sorry, no over geared friends running you through). Conversely, during online play, you will see the message “A Dark Phantom has invaded” as well as the players online ID. This means a player has chosen to invade the realms of others in an attempt to kill you in pvp battle. You can only be invaded when you have 100% health, such as the time right after you defeat a boss. If you defeat the invading player, you gain demon souls (the currency of the game). The reason for invading are for special souls that can be used to return you to 100%, or for crafting purposes.
Souls are garnered through defeating demons and bosses. That said, there are two types of currency…the hero’s souls you gain from defeating players and demon’s, and demon’s souls. Demon’s souls are more of a running tally, when you die you lose these and they are left at the spot you died. If you can get to that spot and recover the souls, you get it them all back, however, if you die a second time before recovering it, you lose them permanently. Hero souls, however, can be turned in for demon souls, or special abilities. These you will not lose if you should die. That said, there is a strategy to it all. You want to make sure you never stockpile too much, as you run the risk of losing it. As I mentioned before, souls can be used to purchase abilities, but also level up your character.
Another interesting feature is an upgrade system for your weapons achieved by collecting materials garnered from drops off of creatures. Each weapon usually has about 5 different qualities you can add, with the final weapons usually being the hardest to create. The one thing to be careful of is certain supplies are limited per play through, so you have to choose wisely with upgrades. In addition to these weapons you can craft, there also exist unique weapons that can be found throughout your adventure, or crafted through the use of special demon’s souls. Although some weapons are extremely powerful, I found some of the crafted ones worked best when ones game play style was taken into consideration.
Finally, some game events are affected by your soul tendency. Soul tendency is a reflection of your actions in the game. Choose to kill NPCs, die a lot, frequently invade other realms and you develop a dark tendency. Live more then you die, save or help NPCs, and defeat bosses and you earn a light tendency. Certain events can only occur when you have a specific tendency level.
Overall, I enjoyed this game immensely. It’s difficulty provided plenty of challenge, but it was a nice change of pace to have the constant challenge. The bosses were no more challenging then the other events of the game, which made it more enjoyable, as there wasn’t a sudden impossible increase in game difficulty. If you have a temper or little patience, this game is not for you. This game definitely earned my seal of approval, and if you have any interest, go pick it up. It is currently a PS3 greatest hit, so it can be picked up for around $20, and with a non-direct sequel slated for the end of this year, it will be worth your time.
Relshes verdict: Stamp of Approval