So, I bought Demon’s Souls from a friend the other day.
He told me he played it for 5 hours and then called it quits.
This is coming from a Korean fellow that specializes in, as he phrases it; “beasting” games faster than they can come out.
As fate would have it, there would be no “beasting” of Demon’s Souls for my Korean buddy.
In fact one could go so far as to say that the game “beasted” him.
Despite this, like a fool I thought I could do what my friend could not.
Before I bought the game, I read scores of reviews singing the praise of Demon’s Souls, and heralding it’s difficulty level as the Battletoads equivalent to the modern era of gaming.
While it does indeed seem like it could be a great game, make no mistake; Demon’s Souls is a punishingly difficult game, to the extent that it feels borderline unfair.
As of writing this, I’m barely 2 hours into the game, and I’ve done exactly nothing.
My first created character was a Barbarian.
I set out into the game with the mindset of creating a Conan-esque tank, however to my surprise; the Barbarian was just about the worst choice to do so, at least in the beginning stages of the game.
Turns out, despite their inherent physicality, Barbarians start out the game with no armor, and some of the worst equipment imaginable.
Not good when the game derives most of your survivability from your equipment and armor rather than your stats.
Despite spending about an hour getting a good feel for the timing and nuance of the game’s control scheme, (while dieing about 9,000 times…) I found that; for a beginner level player, a Barbarian was simply too fragile for my skill level.
Enter my second character within an hour of starting the game, a much sturdier and well-equipped Knight.
Well, after dieing every 5 minutes as my Knight, I think I can honestly say that he’s probably going to be my primary character from now on.
Every time I play Demon’s Souls, I feel like I’m moving a half-step forward, only to get thrown 20 feet back every 5 minutes.
When I said the game felt borderline unfair, I was referring largely to the checkpoint and currency systems.
The checkpoint system is a pain in the ass because, well; near as I can tell there are none.
This wouldn’t be a problem except, unlike friendlier games like Diablo; Demon’s Souls has no “scroll of Town Portals.”
Not only that, Demon’s Souls thoroughly rapes you by forcing you to reclaim your “souls” (money) while wading through every enemy in the level up to that point.
Enemy placement is always the same, and any entry or exit of a level causes them all to respawn.
My main issue with the currency system, is not that you lose all your money when you die, but that there’s no banking or storage system in the game.
Do I really have to carry all of my wealth on me at all times?
Seriously man, if you had 5,000 souls of demon’s in your possession would you go walkin’ around with ’em in your wallet?
No, you’d put ’em in a fuckin’ bank.
That being said, the currency system is largely why I’m “nowhere” in the game as of yet.
Simply put, I can never survive long enough to save up my money to purchase items with.
Not that there’s any items I want/need anyway.
I suppose it doesn’t help either that I haven’t the slightest clue how to level up my character…
Anyway, I’m whining; so I’ll stop now.
As it stands, Demon’s Souls is a brutally difficult game, but for drastically different reasons than I am accustomed to in my “hard games.”
When it comes to twitch reflexes and memorization I.E. Contra, Raiden, Devil May Cry; I have no problem.
In the case of Demon’s Souls though, the game’s difficulty comes largely from the stringent rules of it’s gameplay, as well as the fact that timing and precision are the order of the day, rather than quick reaction time or fancy button combinations.
It’s a frustrating and loathesome game that truly hates it’s players, but truth be told; I actually feel compelled to keep trying at Demon’s Souls.
After a few years of getting raped by Battletoads, I put my controller down and said “No Mas.”
Though I’ve only spent a few hours with Demon’s Souls, those few hours have shown me that; despite all the teeth-gritting frustration, there still may in fact be a game worth experiencing hidden beneath it all.
Here’s hoping I’m right…