Demon’s Souls is the spiritual predecessor of Dark Souls and features the same focus on providing a high level of game difficulty without relying on cheap tactics to beat players. Released in 2009 for PlayStation 3 the game was remastered in 2020 for the PlayStation 5 with fundamentally the same core gameplay albeit some additional content alongside a graphical and audio overhaul. One thing clearly not changed though is the unforgiving nature of combat which places great emphasis on character advancement and skill to overcome the increasingly difficult enemy encounters.
The setting for this brutal action role playing title is the kingdom of Boletaria that has been consumed by the darkness of a creature known as the Old One. Playing as a hero that has arrived in the land to hunt the Old One by killing the fallen king Allant you’ll move through five distinct world locations that each have their own lore and theme. Across these locations players will find a range of demons that have been awaken from abuse of a magic known as Soul Arts which has also cast a dark fog over the lands. Killing these demons does allow players to absorb their souls though that can increase your own power level to eventually face the king and in turn the Old One to alter the fate of Boletaria.
Players have a wide array of hero customisation before stepping into this dark world with a customised character name, gender and class with the number of physical appearance options significantly enhanced in the remake version. Class is a relatively loose term in Demon’s Souls with this choice providing more of an initial framework of level, stats and equipment that players can then push towards specific playstyles in the same archetype as your starting selection. It’s not an easy decision though as if players start with the Knight (often considered one of the best starting player options) you’ll be wasting your potential if you try to transition to an entirely different playstyle.
Influencing your starting stats across soul level, vitality, intelligence, endurance, strength, dexterity, magic, faith and luck along with your initial equipment planning ahead to your final build is vital when selecting a class as some of these stats are also weapon requirements. In addition to level up stat points players will be altering their hero through gameplay with tendencies and equipment. Character tendency is a morality style system and is based on your actions of good and bad deeds that in time impact some special events.
The core character growth is seen through the game equipment though that extends from weapons, spells, rings, armour, shields and other usable items that are found while players adventure. Weapons in particularly have a large impact on combat gameplay with short, medium and long sized weapons that alter not only the speed of your attacks but the damage and how many enemies you’ll be able to hit. With the action focused combat based around timing of attacks and dodges weapon choice is just as much of a dictator to playstyle than your initial class choice.
When you aren’t battling your way through hordes of varied enemies you’ll be analysing your upgrade options with the souls that you have collected. Every kill in Demon’s Souls will reward you a number of souls which serve as universal game currency for weapon upgrades, stat upgrades and more. Death is particularly unforgiving in Demon’s Souls though with any souls you were carrying on death lost while you are revived with a reduced health bar.
To save your souls players will have to fight their way back to their corpse to claim them as a reward. To mitigate the difficulty somewhat Demon’s Souls includes some unique co-op multiplayer functionality that allows players to leave (sometimes) useful notes for others although this multiplayer can also be used to invade unsuspecting players depending on your settings.
- A difficult game title first released in 2009 and remade in 2020 with the same core mechanics.
- Well-polished and enjoyable role playing adventure filled with dark setting and lore.
- Brutal difficulty that never feels cheap and requires careful upgrades and mechanical skill to overcome
- Unique online options lets you leave notes for players and watch their final moments or invade them for pleasure.
- Huge amount of skills, stats and weapons to upgrade as you build from your initial choice of class.
Review Platform: PS3