Demon's Souls (Video Game Review)
The story of Demon's Souls takes you to the world of Boletaria, ruled by the legendary but aging King Allant XII. The old King made his kingdom one of the most prosperous around through channeling and summoning souls for profit, but the cost of doing so has awakened an ancient evil known as the Old One. The land is now cut off from the outside world by a dark fog. You play as a warrior who has entered the fog in an attempt to breach the barrier and free the lost kingdom within, but you are quickly struck down and find yourself resurrected by the Maiden in Black in the soul world known as the Nexus. The Maiden assures you the only way to defeat the powerful enemies and reach the Old One is by traveling to various locations around the kingdom of Boletaria and defeating other demons to claim their souls and increase your own powers. The storyline plays a lot on classic good versus evil themes, but the journey is a very rewarding experience thanks to a meaningful ending and the authentic world and characters you meet along the way. Boletaria is a run down, dreary place, and you feel it as you play through the game and its difficult setting that makes every victory feel that much more enjoyable and every defeat soul crushing.
Despite offering a brutally punishing difficulty, Demon's Souls is still an incredibly addictive title that will keep you hooked thanks in large part to a battle system that is tight, fluid and responsive and insists players learn the ins and outs of its mechanics, but never offers up an unfair challenge. To progress your way through Demon's Souls, you will most likely need to die in order to learn about enemies' attacks and become more familiar with combat techniques such as learning when to block, parry, attack and heal. Demon's Souls allows you to more or less fully customize your character, and it does not limit characters to specific class based abilities and statistical progressions. Essentially, if your character is a high enough level and meets a necessary requirements, your character can cast any spell or equip any weapon, and you are even allowed to change your fighting style such as wielding a weapon with two hands, which each style changing the way you approach combat and the animations and moves available to your character. When you die in combat, you lose your souls but retain your equipment. You can then find a blood stain where you died to regain your lost souls, but should you die again before reaching your destination, you will lose them forever. It's also worth noting that returning to an area where your character has previously died will place a special aura around him that will make enemies much tougher to defeat a second time around.
In addition to the fun gameplay experience and gripping storyline, Demon's Souls offers numerous innovative ideas that mange to hold up well even three years after the game's original release in North America. Demon's Souls includes multiplayer features that allows you to leave messages for other players and rate the messages of others for additional benefits. Players can also team up with you in cooperative play when certain conditions are met. Later in the game, you can also invade other players' worlds for some player versus player combat to defeat and take the souls of other players. The new release on PlayStation Network doesn't contain any new features outside of the updates the game has already had, but the few loading screens the game load a bit quicker, and the game can be accessed without the need for a disc. Demon's Souls wowed players when it was released in 2009, and it's still a game that all players should own for themselves now that it is available on PlayStation Network.
Demon's Souls is now available from all major retailers and can be purchased exclusively for PlayStation 3. Demon's Souls is rated M by the ESRB for Blood & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Demon's Souls website.
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Atlus USA
Available exclusively for PlayStation 3 (reviewed)
Release Date: October 6, 2009,