A recent addition to the PlayStation Network is From Software, Atlus and Namco Bandai’s Demon’s Souls which was originally released in June 2010 and instantly became popular with the hard-core gamer audience with its unrelenting difficulty which carried on to its more recently released successor Dark Souls.
Demon’s Souls gained recognition with its dark fantasy art style and combat variety and its online multi-player earning numerous awards.
But for those who haven’t played this torture in game form, let me fill you in.
Demon’s Souls is set in a dark fantasy medieval world in the city of Boletaria where an evil fog has engulfed the city unleashing legions of demons and monsters upon the land with the gaffer of the horde being oddly named “The Old One” which is a soul devouring gigantic monstrosity who took slumber underground but has been awaken.
The demons eat souls of their victims and the only solace can be found in the Nexus, an underground realm of where humans souls have peacefully took refuge.
The player takes up the role of an unnamed hero which they can customize at the start who then must quest to defeat “The Old One” and be rid of the evil fog.
The story is not a gripping one, characters have no back story and NPCs lack personality therefore the story, whilst easy to keep track of, is hard to really care about.
The aspect that makes Demon’s Souls shine, however, is the gameplay which requires strategy and patience.
However, for the casual gamer, it can be too much.
Let us not forget that this was the blueprint for Dark Souls, therefore gameplay elements were experimental and boy does it show!
Enemies are unrelenting and carefree and they don’t care whether you’re in the middle of attacking or not and bosses are serious!
The controls are simple, with a heavy attack and light attack, a guard button and a button to control what is held in your characters hands.
Weapons can be held double handed to increase power with the sacrifice of guarding ability and mobility which allows significant depth to the combat mechanics which I thought was fantastic.
There are also health pickups in the form of herbs and beacons to mark where you had and hadn’t been as well as throwable weapons such as firebombs which can be used via the direction pad.
The controls are nice and responsive which makes Demon’s Souls game accessible but not easy thanks to the crazy big bosses with the power to kill the player in one hit which is highlighted immediately during the tutorial.
One thing that impressed me about Demon’s Souls is the inclusion of messages scattered around each level left by other players via online containing warnings and hints of what’s ahead, this feature also carried over to Dark Souls.
Demon’s Souls is unrelenting as far as dying is concerned, when the player is killed, they start right back at the beginning of the level with all non-boss enemies respawned which makes things very frustrating beyond belief. It’s downright unforgiving and it will cause controllers being thrown!
The dark fantasy setting is a nicely detailed sight to behold in and around Boletaria with its mountains and forestry as well as dark dank corridors that emphasise the feeling of loneliness and isolation as you wander around and although NPCs are like talking brick walls, they do look the part with their tunics and chain mail armour.
The demons are terrifying to look at as they are to fight and the bosses are huge and intimidating but look outstanding. There’s not a lot I can fault with the graphics as they got the feel and the look perfect.
Demon’s Souls will leave a mark on all those that play it with its silly hard difficulty, however persevere and you will be treated with superbly detailed visuals and the controls are easy to learn.
However, the combat requires a lot of patience and strategy which will be attractive to some but will be too much for others.
The biggest issue will be the sheer size of the file that is downloaded from PlayStation Network is a whopping 8 gigabytes so a lot of hard drive space is required.
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 23rd January 2013 (on psn)
Story – 3/5
Graphics – 4.5/5
Gameplay – 4.5/5
Overall – 4.5/5