“Demon’s Souls” Review

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Finished up my first playthrough of Demon’s Souls. It’s a great but incredibly difficult game and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Following the style of my Batman review, I’ll be covering the same categories with ratings on a scale of 1-10.

Gameplay: 10/10 – I can’t find any actual fault with the gameplay here. The only problem I have with the game is that it is stupidly hard until you learn every single enemy’s attack patterns. Even then, luck can play a bit of a part in your success, but only if you’re taking risks. A good strategy can make the game quite bearable. The combat is simple and elegant. The shoulder buttons control your attack and defense. The D-pad allows you to change your equipped weapons, shields, spells, and items. The other face buttons allow for defensive maneuvers like rolling and sprinting as well as interacting with the environment, changing your attack style, and using items. The left analog stick controls movement and the right controls the camera. The right stick can also be clicked in to lock on to enemies. This control scheme allows the real-time combat to be handled swiftly without fumbling around with controls. I’d say the only real issue I have with the game is that due to its online nature, you can’t pause it. That’s something else I’d like to touch on really quickly. The online component in this game is amazing. While playing, you can see other players as white phantoms, watching them play their own game and seeing how they fight enemies and cross traps in the same place you’re in. If you find a blood spot on the ground, you can interact with it to see what another player did in their last few moments before they died. Players can leave messages to other players, often indicating a strong enemy or hidden item ahead. Additionally, you can offer yourself as a blue phantom to assist other players in levels and against bosses, or you can invade other players as a black phantom and attempt to kill them. The other player, however, must be in body form for either of these to occur. If you take the bad ending at least one time, you’re also granted the option of challenging others to duels. The story leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s practically non-existent. However, the levels are quite enjoyable and the narrative is very subdued, but still there. Interacting with characters that you come across is quite a treat. You’ll save some and kill others, and some of the ones you save will repay the favor later by helping you fight bosses or offering their services. You also have the option of killing them if you want. Some of them have unique and powerful armor that you can take. Killing some of them is also necessary for completing all of the quests that the game has to offer.

Graphics: 10/10 – There are admittedly a few issues with shadows and textures in the game, but they’re few and far between and they don’t really detract from what’s otherwise a gorgeous world. The atmosphere in each area is carefully crafted to create a certain feeling, almost always either fear or awe. Bosses range from your size to freaking massive and the biggest ones look amazing. The dragon god from the opening cutscene is awe-inspiring when you fight it. There’s also a lot of variation in weapon and armor models. The more unique weapons look very interesting and intricate.

Sound: 6.5/10 – The ambient sounds and sound effects in this game are great, but the music is nothing special. Most of the time, you barely even know it’s there. Even when you realize it’s there, it can be extremely repetitive and uninteresting. (I notice this mainly with the main Nexus theme. I got really sick of hearing it.) Some boss fights have good music, but boss fights are so short compared to the levels you just trudged through that it really doesn’t do much to make up for the lack of notable music. All characters are voiced, though, and that’s a good thing. Some of them have great voices and some of them are kind average, but they’re all fitting. I should also mention that while the sound effects are great, they can get a little repetitive, too. Either of the two dragons in world 1 will drive you insane by the time you’re past them. It gets really old hearing the fire breathing sound that often. A couple of variations would have been nice.

Overall: 8.8/10 – The game’s probably deserving of a higher score than I gave it overall, but the sound kinda killed the average. This is definitely a must-buy. The only problem is that it’s published by Atlus, so you may have a hard time finding it. The Chinese and Korean versions of the game also offer a completely English experience, but they play on the Asian servers, not the U.S. servers. A few terms are a little different, but they’re similar enough that you shouldn’t have trouble talking about the game with others. Most online information resources note both names anyway. Again, I consider this a must-buy. Especially if you enjoy action RPGs, beat-em-ups, or really challenging games, this is definitely the game for you.

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