Written by Zefix
Demon's Souls is a RPG developed by From Software that fits nicely into a RPG starved out PS3 mob which is crying out for more RPGs to be released. Demon's Soul does fill some of that empty RPG space of some gamer's shelves, but its rather unforgiven nature, will appeal mostly to hardcore gamers and RPGS fans. It isn't very approachable for the casual gamer nor an entry RPG gamer.
Firstly a reason why there are limited reviews on this game around, is that this game has not been released in the Western countries, however there are English versions around. There are currently as of June, 3 versions around: A Japanese version, a Korean version and an Asian version (which is fully English, but with a Chinese manual). Therefore RPG fans are able to import this game from various sites in order to get a hold on this RPG before it hits the stores supposedly in Fall 2009.
The game starts off with a character customisation, in Neverwinter Nights/Baldur's Gate style. You can choose the color, face, hair, gender, name, class and many other features of your character to suit your style. You can totally control how your characters facial expression is like, however depending on the class you choose, more often than not the hat/helm will cover most of your facial expression throughout the entire game. The game offers you a total class choice of 10 class, with the ever generic classes such as Magician, Hunter, Thief and Soldier, but also with more exotic types such as Royal or Temple Knight. However one of the most important and best features of this game is that no matter what class you started out with, it doesn't matter. The starting class just determines with what equipment and with what stats you begin the game with. As you progress you can change the stats of your character as you like, thus as someone who started out a thief (one of the lightest armored chars), could turn into a Temple Knight (one of the heaviest armored chars). Or a hunter could turn into a half caster/half melee person instead of initially ranged orientated class. The game allows you complete freedom of the way you want to build your class.
Certain classes have better stats/equipment to start out with, thus making the game easier, such as the Royal who has a mana regen ring, compared to the Magician who does not have a mana regen ring. And mana in this game does not regen over time by itself. Which kinda makes the Magician one of the hardest characters to start with. The class you start out with also determines how your armor is. Armor and such is a very important part of this game. The heavier your armor, the less flexible your character is. That means your character will run slower, will dodge slower and cannot possible roll very much or high and uses alot of action points (AP) to roll. This is important as rolling and running sometimes are one important moves you will use. Rolling is one of the basics of avoiding attacks. Rolling also is one of the only ways in order to get to the back of your, which if you manage to do that, allows you to deal a critical, often one shot death blow to your enemy. But if your a Templar Knight for example, you often roll too slow in order to get back and catch your enemy in the back. Thus your limited to blocking/attacking rather than rolling/backstabbing. However blocking/attacking takes up AP. This leads to the next concern.
AP. This game is a RPG game. It is not like FF where it is turned based, so at all times you can move around and fight, but you will use up AP if you roll/attack/defend/use magic/use heal. AP is often limiting, and once you run out of AP your character will be unable to block/continue attacking. This is important to non-rolling characters as if you attack continuously you leave yourself open as you have no AP to block. However you do have one attack that you can do which will often result in a one shot death blow, without getting to an enemy's back. This is achieved through parrying. Parrying is however very hard to time in the beginning and with different types of enemies. Parrying basically means that you have to press a button on your control at the very same time when that weapon is gonna hit you, so that it hits your shield instead. If you do it right, you'll shield bash your opponent, leaving him open for a strike to his heart. This often results in the immediate death of your opponent. It is one of the most efficient ways of killing enemies with shields. It is also one of the hardest ways, as you'll have to time it right to the millisecond. Otherwise you miss and you take a hit to your HP. This leads us to HP the next most important thing in this game and another controversy.
95% of the game you will be at 75% hp. Yes 75%. In fact if you didn't know about it by reading up some guides you might even end up running around the game in 50% hp 95% of the time. This is because whenever you die you will resurrect in soul form. Soul form means you will have increased damage, particularly against bosses it seems, but only 50% hp. And you will stay in Soul form until you have either 1) killed a player (more about it later), 2) killed a major boss or 3) used a very rare item. However if you have either read guides online (a good guide here: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://demonssouls.wikidot.com/intro)">demonssouls.wikidot.com/</a> or literally explored every section in the first level, you'll find a ring. That ring will permanently boost your hp in Soul form to 75%, instead of 50%. You will most likely fight most bosses in that 75% hp, as it will be actually easier due to the increased damage, which is significant in boss fights. This is one of the major reason however still why this game is hard. 75% hp is harsh. Some people even do it at 50% cause they didn't know about that ring. Its only in the first level and nowhere else.
Money/XP system. The money and XP system of this game is tied. This means that whenever you kill an enemy you will get some Souls. Those souls are both your currency and the stuff you use to level up. That means that both your XP and your money is tied into one thing: Souls. And now comes the controversy. If you die anywhere in the game, you must return to your body and touch the bloodstain of your body. This bloodstain will not revive you, but you'll pick up any Souls you had before you died (Diablo anyone?). All good yes? But whenever you die, you will respawn to the beginning of the level. And every mob you have killed up to that point is RESPAWNED too! Meaning you have to fight all you way through again. And if you die in this Soul form, then all the money you had initially on your bloodstain will get erased and are lost forever. You will create a new bloodstain wherever you have died with as many (or as little) souls you have, which are basically the few enemies you have killed before you got yourself killed. Thus at all times before venturing into a new level, you should use up all your Souls to level up or buy items. New areas means usually death, and if you die after you died, you loose all your money/Souls anyways. Oh btw, did I mention that items you picked up cannot be sold, only destroyed? Yes you cannot sell items in this game. Even the ones you bought cannot be resold.
Multiplayer mode. Well theres not really a multiplayer mode per se, as in MMORPG style. The game will auto connect itself when you start this game to the internet. You might not even notice it, until a PVP player (called Black Phantom) invades your game and kills you. Basically if your PS3 is connected, this game will connect you to the multilayer without you even knowing. You will see bloodstains of other players on the ground which will often give you valuable information, such as 'don't jump into that crack its only death', but sometimes its misleading information too from funny freaks online. I mentioned earlier that you can revive through killing another player. After killing the first major boss, a black slimy thing with a huge shield and spear called Phalanx, you will gain two items which allow you to summon a player (a Soul form player only) or invade another player's game if your in Soul form (Black Phantom). Whenever someone invades your game as a Black Phantom, you will not be given notice that someone is out there hunting you. That person will not know where you are in the level. However he can hunt you down and wait for a really bad opportunity to come out and attack you. In a way it lets you be on guard at all times, as BP can appear anytime. Thus some people play this game only offline as BPs can be pretty annoying at some hard intersections of the game. If you get summoned to help someone you can join their game and help them kill them level boss. This will get you revived and back into your own game, however nothing what you did in the other players game, such as killing that boss/opening secret doors/shortcuts will appear/affect your game. Nor are there any commands or ways of chatting with each other.
Good parts of this game:
- Amazing EPIC Boss Fights
- Choose any career path you wish
- Its a RPG!
- Its available in English
- It feels pretty gothic dark and graphics are nice.
- Its competitive and hard.
Negative parts of this game:
- Is a bit overly hard/harsh. It could do with selling items to vendors. It could provide us with 100%hp.
- It can get repetitive: hack/slash game but a difficult hack/slash game.
- You cannot sell your items.
- Its not really a casual gamers' game.
- You cannot replay those boss fights for your friend's benefit and brag.
- You cannot go back into levels and pwnwtf them. They still are amazing difficult even if your pretty high level (which can be a good thing I guess).
- You loose ALL your money if you died twice. And theres sometimes a very good reason why you died in the first place. A system of loosing 10-20% each death might have been more reasonable. Hell even 50% might have been.
- No release in US/AUS/UK areas.
Plot? What plot? There is a cut scene doing the setting of the game in the first minute or so.. something about a hero and rescuing a fallen kingdom.. That is about all the plot you will hear in this game.
6.5 for the Casual gamer.
8.5 for the Hardcore gamer.
This is where it either kills you or make you love it. All the things in this review will tell you why.
The graphics of this game is pretty nice. Its better than Oblivion, the scene is a nice dark/gothic style, the dragons, boss fights are very nicely animated and layered.
Sounds nice, with creepy slow music making you jumpy. At new areas you will run around with your shield up expecting traps/ambushes everywhere once your past your first level. Indeed shield up in any new unexplored areas is the way to go!
9/10 if you import it for around $80.
Around 40 hours for a single playthrough, and numerous +newgames, will give this game extremely good value in terms of hours. There are trophies in this game and they are not all too easy to get to platinum, even if there are only a few handful of them. Multiplayer can be fun and rewarding, and will last a while. Replayability is pretty high in terms of that you can choose other classes to play this game again, which results in total different strategies. Easily over 80 hours if you want to experiment with at least 2-3 classes.
This game is a give or take game. Thus I'll put it in between by leaving it as a 8. As a hardcore gamer you might find it to be a 9-10/10, a Casual gamer might see it fit at 6/10. Personally I enjoyed playing it through once, giving myself a challenge. Learning how to pass levels through helping other players through multiplayer could be an easy way to learn to play through levels, as multiplayer games that are not hosted by you, will not affect your own game.
About Importing: Hints and Tips
: Import from Playasia www.play-asia.com/
or from NCSX www.ncsxshop.com/
or ebay, those are the most reliable ones. Also buy only the Korean or the Asia(HK) version. This is due to that only those two have fully English subbed/voiced gameplay, as the Japanese version is fully in japanese. The manual of the Asia(HK)/Korean version will be in Chinese/Korean, but they will include a small brochure of the basics control system in English usually. Also you need to consider that Demon's Souls is scheduled to be released in North America around the end of 2009. Importing will cost you around 90 Australian.