Demon’s Souls Impressions
Awesome. Really awesome. This is the opposite of mass market accessibility. It’s punishing, easily frustrating, humorless, cryptic, hard to figure out, and definitely for a certain niche of gamer. But it’s spectacular. I would recommend this to any of the more patient players or RPG buffs out there.
The preview footage left me with the impression of a very drab, empty, simple looking game. This isn’t something you would show off to a visitor to quickly dazzle them. However, when you are immersed into playing the game, the art style is absolutely awesome. This is far from generic cookie-cutter fantasy stuff and shows real artistic flair. Various items, monsters, and special scenery have some really wild and evocative designs that help draw you into the game and intensify the dark fantasy experience.
As everyone has heard, the game is hard, it punishes you, and you will die a lot. And when you die, the entire level respawns, and you have to find your corpse (actually a blood stain) to reclaim your “souls” which are the game’s currency for buying/repairing/upgrading equipment and getting new skills. If you die before getting to your corpse, all your old souls are permanently gone and you will probably get frustrated. However, it’s not that bad. You keep all of your inventory and loot as well as anything you bought with your souls across deaths. Secondly, after you play through a section several times, you figure out the tricks and it gets much easier to beat.
Why is it Good?
The strict penalties combined with the non-traditional rule set and the game’s wildly bizarre art style and unique level setups lead to a real nervous excitement and wonder about exploring and discovering the game. This brings back memories of playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time as a kid.
I may be overstating this game’s quality a bit. This isn’t a perfect game or anything, but it really does tap into some of that sense of wonder.
Normally, learning how to play a game is a real annoying chore. It’s like studying a college textbook on material that is ridiculously useless. This game has a long steep learning curve with lots of weird rules that I had to read about on the Internet, but I was hooked and entertained right from the start.
Yes, it’s an action RPG, but that genre label is generally associated with Diablo-clones, and this is a completely different style of game. Diablo and it’s clones are easy to get into relaxing and mind-numbing click-fests that deliver a constant stream of positive reinforcements and that’s not what this game is about at all. Also, the “action” mechanics are much more involved here than one would expect for the genre.
You select a character class at the start, but this just determines your initial attributes and equipment set. From there, you can develop the character in any direction you want. There is a trophy room where you can see the characters that players beat the game with and it’s impressive to see the diversity of character build types that were successful.