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[11/29/2010] Demon's Souls

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Demon's Souls




Publisher -- * Atlus Co.

Developer -- * From Software

Genre -- * Action Role-Playing

Release Date -- Oct 6, 2009

Rating -- Mature


Demon's Souls is a non-linear, dungeon crawling, RPG game released exclusively for the PlayStation 3, developed by From Software, the creators of the King's Field series, making this game a spiritual successor to this title. The game is set in an Americanized Dungeons and Dragons esc fantasy world, where users can create their own hero, male or female. The Kingdom of Boletaria has been shrouded in an accursed fog that attracts demons who feed on the souls of humans. Many heroes have gone into the fog, but have never come out alive, but you in particular, have been chosen to rid the area of Demons through slaying monsters and collecting sacred souls. There are ten different classes of heroes to choose from, who all start off with different stats, weapons, equipment, magic, and miracles, so it's wise to spend your souls accordingly.



The first dungeon archstone in the Nexus.


Magic is usually classified by augmentation of weapons, a defensive shield, or an attack / projectile, while miracles are in the realm of healing yourself and other priest like spells and enhancements. From the beginning of this game you'll be taken through a tutorial mode where the game explains how the game will and should be played, given that you basically have no choice but to follow its advice down to the last letter. What makes the game hard right off of the bat is that you cannot haphazardly slash your way through hordes enemies, because you have a stamina bar that monitors your action, from sprinting, doge rolling, back stepping, blocking, attacking, and parrying. The game demands that you find a way to balance all of these abilities to conserve your stamina. You're able to increase your stamina bit by bit, but you also have to consider that the farther you get in the game, the more you will be using these abilities anyway, so if you don't want your stamina bar virtually gone after one block, you're going to need to increase it, along with everything else. It increases almost instantly but that’s only if you’re standing still, and standing still near an enemy equates to death.




Killing a NPC.


Here's the main thing, you can't buy weapons or armor at one particular shop, you'll either have to accidentally come across it by killing something, or by finding it somewhere. All items dropped appear as yellow glowing objects so it makes it easier to spot. If you have too many items on hand, you’ll have to sacrifice space, (drop some items), in order to grab it, and you can’t warp back to the Nexus, and return because the drop will disappear, however, no matter how long you wait in a certain dungeon, a drop will never disappear, adding to the extreme realism the game devises. Some merchants sell armor that you might desire, but the merchants are located in later dungeons, even though there's no particular order as to what dungeon you complete, it's a bad choice to waltz into a later dungeon thinking that you won't get killed, so it's best to be prepared. The game's realism limits your freedom and equipment choice. Your character will have an Item burden and an Equip burden, your Item burden is how many items you can have on hand without getting your body overweight, the same goes with Equip burden and you can equip only two accessories at once, some arrows, some bolts for Crossbows. You also have 4 slots, 2 slots for each hand, where you can carry both a Shield and a casting catalyst on one hand, and a Sword and a Bow on another.




The equipment screen.

Your armor comes down to your head, torso, legs, and hands, along with 5 slots for items. So with every single slot on your body filled, you have to make sure that your Equip Burden isn't over 50%, as a result, your body will be more sluggish than normal, meaning that dodge rolling can either become impossible or slightly impaired, and you'll be able to run slower, and your stamina bar will also take more juice to use as your already carrying enough weight. If you’re miraculously overweight your character will lack the ability to run, which makes the game unplayable. You can basically run through dungeons naked, your defense will be poor, but your speed will increase dramatically. There’s no getting accustomed to heavy armor over time, either you equip light armor or you increase your Equip burden by leveling.


You would think that the pause button would pause the game but it doesn’t, so if you’re in a boss fight, you will have to retreat far away, and know menus well, so you can quickly choose an item, you only have 5 item slots, which can be assigned to the Square button as a shortcut, but there can only be so many items mapped to that button. No matter what happens in the game, the game will autosave, if you kill a boss, collect an item, kill a monster, or die, the game autosaves instantly, once again adding to the realism.




Online play with a Blue Phantom.


The game is quite stingy on all accounts. There are items that can increase your Equip burden by a certain percentage, but by that point you've already used one accessory slot, and if you think your Equip Burden can be increased, while your body can be more resistant to fire attacks, and magic attacks, you would be mistaken. The slot management system takes time to develop. When entering a boss fight, you will have to temporarily equip accordingly. Upon the start of the first dungeon, you're basically a weak prick who can only get stronger by studying the enemies’ attacks. It's a better choice to never attack first, the enemy's attack patterns are otherwise unpredictable, and they also will wait for you to attack first, once you attack you're left completely vulnerable. Parrying only works when timed right, and if you time it incorrectly, you'll be left completely open, if you try to block while your stamina bar is low, your character will also be weakened by the recoil of the failed block, which makes your defense temporarily staggered, to a point where you can’t move for 2 seconds, and the enemy can one hit you at this point, which makes the ability very risky.




Example of Sasquatch bosses.


Once you defeat a boss, a new checkpoint will appear, now you can summon yourself into a dungeon without having to be spawned all the way at the beginning of it, each dungeon has 3-5 different checkpoints, all of the dungeons are massive, and luckily the game requires no loading after a certain amount of progression through a certain dungeon. Once a boss is killed, it will never return unless you aid someone in their game or start a new game.




The first, unbeatable boss in the tutorial.

Of course, not all shields can parry, some of them can be small or extremely large. Another factor to take into account is the durability system, all equipment has certain durability, after while your armor or weapons will break due to overuse, blocking very large attacks can decrease your durability beyond natural circumstances. There are so many things to worry about aside from the grueling difficulty itself. After a while the enemies can be read to the point where they are no longer a threat, which takes time and patience, lacking these two virtues will get you killed in a heartbeat. When you first start the game, you're only a soul, where your health is decreased by half, in order to regain your original body, you have to, use a Blue Eye Stone, which enables you to put down your soul and offer help during boss rights online, use a Black Stone, where you can evade another person's game online as a Black Phantom. If you successfully kill the user of the world you evade, you get your body back, as well as their souls.


But if you lose, you lose one soul level, and you gain nothing. This is where the jeopardy comes in, so it's a better choice to aid someone in combat during a boss fight. You can only do this if the boss you're helping to defeat is a boss you've already killed in your down adventure. Once you help slay a boss, the user who you helped can rate your performance, so if you slacked off and let him or her do all of the work you’ll get a D rating, but if you went in and got the job done you would get an S rating, this is only considering that the player you’re aiding isn’t a fart pirate, who’s going to screw you over. As a host, you have to be alive, and you can summon up to three different souls. You can also use an item called, Stone of Ephemeral Eyes, these items are rare, and cannot be purchased anywhere, you can either trade them with another player, or find them in the game, where there's only a limited number of them in existence. Upon being killed all of your experience points, (Souls), are lost, so no matter how many souls you had before you're death, they will all be gone, only able to be retrieved from touching your bloodspot. It'll be located in the exact spot where you died, or if you died from a large fall, it'll be located somewhere near the cliff of the exact fall.




Dungeon 4


If you die again in your quest to retrieve your souls, all of them will vanish. Being online while playing can be a good thing or a bad thing. Black Phantoms can evade your privacy, from whatever you're doing, and can kill you, take your souls and time put in away, in this case you could disconnect from the internet if you don’t want to fight them. It can also be beneficial to where other players can leave messages on the ground, giving you warnings that you can utilize to make the game slightly less difficult. You can't type whatever you want, however you can make a statement from a database of preset statements and words. For example, I could post a message saying, "Use spears on the enemy ahead", or, "Beware of the trap ahead", and if your message is useful, other players can recommend it. The more recommendation points your message has, the more chance it has towards not vanishing, if your message is useless it will vanish over a long period of time due to ineptness.




An example of you and a soul of another player playing together Online.


If you die while logged into the server, the game will keep record of the most recent death. At the spot of the death, your bloodspot will be permanently marked on the ground, where another player can press the X button, to see a hologram of your player dying, in the same exact spot of your death, so a player can use your mistakes to his or her advantage. The creators stop at nothing to make the game unbearable. Some weapons require a certain amount of speed, attack power, dexterity, etc., in order to use that weapon. If you try to wield it without the requirements, the attack power and attack speed while using the weapon will be impaired and faulty. You'll find yourself grinding levels to increase a certain skill in order to use a particular bow or weapon. You can't even use magic or miracle spells until you have a certain amount of the a certain characteristic, and even at that point you can only start out with one magic or miracle spell slot, meaning you can only hold and use one spell, and it takes 4-5 skill levels to increase a slot by one, you could have a lot of Intelligence but only have room for three spells. It's all strictly about balancing your options. This is what takes so much patience. It is not a surprise to finish this game at 100 hours, there are so many items to collect, bosses to kill, level to grind, weapons to upgrade, before completing the game. Once you complete the game for the first time, there is a New Game + option available, but not without a risk involved of course.




Yes, two dragons, and they can both be killed through time.


The first New Game +, all monsters’ stats are increased by 40%, so if you're going into a New Game at level 90, the first dungeon which should be a realm of weaklings, will now be the same it was when you were at level one on the first playthrough, and the experience they give remains the same. The stronger you are, the more souls you need to get past a certain level. At level 10, 100,000 souls might seem like plenty, but at level 120, you might only be able to level up once using 100,000 souls, so if the difficulty is increased by 40% while the experience is left untouched, a New Game + is a very perilous choice to make. Every New Game after a New Game +, which would make it New Game ++, etc., the difficulty increases by 8%, so after the first hump the hassle is lifted slightly.

Although, a New Game + can be convenient. Upon killing each boss, you will obtain their Soul, which can be consumed for experience points, or can be used for certain unobtainable weapons. If you contain a soul from a certain boss and a certain weapon, you can forge a special weapon exclusive from the boss itself. Or you can use it to create a skill useful for Pvp purposes. This means that missing them upon the first playthrough means that you can obtain them again.



An example of a player who has progressed considerably far.


As much as the equipment burdens you, your skills tie into the everything, how much Dexterity you have will be the deciding factor on whether or not this certain jump will kill you or only damage you. Every ounce of realism in this game works against you. You can even attack NPCs, and if you do you'll change the World Tendency of each dungeon, if you kill many of the enemies in a certain dungeon, and help people only as a Blue Phantom, your World Tendency will be white, where the enemies are weaker. But if you kill NPCs, and kill players in other worlds, your World Tendency will be Black, where the enemies are much stronger, but the experience points they give increases. There's no way to sell anything, selling is non-existent, because your experience points, also work as money, so not only do you have to worry about leveling, but you also have to worry about buying items, and strengthening, repairing weapons and learning spells. In the main hub, the "Nexus", there is an NPC called Stockpile Tom, who can hold unlimited amounts of items you don't care to hold on to.




The World Tendency Map


Collecting many different ores and stones for upgrading weapons can easily over take your Item Burden. You can kill this man to get an item, but if you do this he will be gone forever along with all of your deposited items until you start a new game. Certain NPC warriors can be found in certain dungeons, and if you rescue them, they will return to the Nexus and become an NPC, if you kill them all of their benefits will be lost, but you can take their armor. You can kill anyone in the game no matter their status, but doing so is not always the best choice.




Another intimidating, optional boss at the start of the game.


Frankly, Demon's Souls doesn't care about your inability to play efficiently as it will boggle you down if you aren't patient. Many critics have praised this feature; it gives you a sense of accomplishment once you master the system. Music is absent unless you're fighting a boss which makes the game more realistic, hopeless, and cold. The graphics are stellar but the character creation system is quite limited and the faces could use some work. The environment and art design is based upon emulating the American style dungeon crawlers, everything looks quite generic but suitable. The sound effects are quite realistic, for a dungeon crawler, they would have to be. The difficulty alone can be a big turn off to the casual gamer, it isn't for pansies to say the least, but if you're looking for a demented but also satisfying RPG experience, I recommend this title.


Everything taken into account -- 8.7

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