About a week ago I posted a bitchy/whiny article about how Demon’s Souls knocked me down and took my lunch money.
I was about 2 hours into the game at the time of writing said article, and I just wasn’t “getting” how the game worked.
I was frustrated by the game’s punishingly restrictive rules, and humbled by it’s timing heavy combat system.
I’m now 8 hours into Demon’s Souls, and I feel like I’ve got it by the nuts.
At around hour 3 I had memorized the layout of the 1-1 section of the Boletarian Palace level, making harvesting souls (money) quite a bit easier than before.
Around this time I also began finding uses for my souls in the form of upgrading my Knight’s long sword among other things.
Did I mention I named my character after the Ultimate Warrior?
After toughing it out for some time, advancing by inches every time, I met and defeated my first boss demon, Phalanx.
It was a tedious battle to be sure, but unlike some of the stiffer challenges I’d faced up to that point, (I’m lookin’ at you Red Dragon of one-hit kill-ery…) I managed to best the blob monster on my first try.
I should probably note, that I really admire the artistic design of the Phalanx demon.
Consisting of a hoard of shield-faced blobs armed with spears, all protecting a central core, I found it to be an inspired take on the Sumerian/Grecian military formation.
In doing so, I was awarded with what I had spent the entire game to that point wishing for:
4 hours into the game, and I encountered my very first checkpoint.
Eerily enough, as if crossing that first major threshold served to change the entire dynamic of the game from then on out; playing Demon’s Souls has become a markedly less devious affair.
While the early goings were teeth-grittingly difficult and frustrating, ever since I took out that first boss demon; my progression through the game has eased into a much more natural, and far less tedious pace.
Maybe I’ve just become accustomed to the cautious play style required to navigate the game, or maybe my character has just gotten strong enough that he’s able to power through what used to be one-hit kills; but either way, I’m enjoying the experience a whole helluva’ lot more than before.
I’ve killed no less than 4 more bosses in the past 4 hours of gameplay, 2 of which I didn’t even really have to fight.
What I mean to say is, there were 2 bosses that I took out through exploitative means.
As mentioned earlier in this post, as well as probably every first time Demon’s Souls player’s writings, there is a Red Dragon in the first stage that pwns you like a bitch if you so much as look at him funny.
Truth be told, he’s not so much a boss as he is a predictable, but still dangerous environmental hazard, but seeing as he killed me a few times and has a meaty health bar, I count him as at least a mid-boss.
Anyway, as an environmental hazard, the Red Dragon is stuck on a very simple looping movement pattern, making him unable to reach you in certain areas, as well as unable to defend himself from attacks launched from certain areas.
That being said, I took note of this, bought 80 arrows, and sat down for 15 minutes slowly chipping away at his health with a wimpy bow and arrow while standing completely out of harms way.
It was silly, it was spiteful, but good God was it satisfying to get that fucking dragon off my back for the remainder of my gameplay experience.
Exploitative Boss Kill #2 came in form of slaughtering the Vanguard boss of the Shrine of Storms using a similar tactic.
This one was not as satisfying as in the case of the Red Dragon.
The Vanguard was a demon that I had spent much of my time in Demon’s Souls expecting to have an epic showdown with at some point in the game.
You see, The Vanguard was the demon featured in the opening tutorial segment of the game.
While I don’t actually know if it’s possible to defeat The Vanguard during the opening sequence, in my case he killed me in 1 hit, thusly handing me my first humiliation of many to come while playing Demon’s Souls.
Sadly, my revenge would be bitter sweet; as instead of facing him head on, I found a way to get behind him and, much like the Red Dragon; peppered him in the back with arrows without him so much as trying to hit me.
Oh well, at least he coughed up a shit ton of souls.
As of writing this, I feel that I’ve grown to like Demon’s Souls very much.
It’s a tough game, for sure; but it’s one that can be very rewarding if you’re willing to play by it’s terms.
Not long ago I ran into a Mind Flayer-like creature in the Tower of Latria (a place I got lost in and quickly retreated from in favor of the Shrine of Storms).
Said creature could be killed quite easily, however I found that it could do the same to me with even greater ease.
Though I was killed in my encounter, on my second; I changed up my tactics and stayed out of sight until it drew very close.
In a very Solid Snake-esque maneuver, I dashed out from the shadows and caught the monster off guard, thusly killing it before it could even lift a finger/face tendril to attack.
It was a very satisfying moment, that would not have been nearly so rewarding if not for the fact that the game forced me to rethink my strategy.
Now that I think about it, I like that; that the game is always difficult, no matter how buff your character gets.
Not only does it keep you humble, it serves to make the gameplay more involving in the sense that you’ve always got to be on top of your shit, regardless of how puny your opponents may be.
While I may be a much better player than I was at the start, make no mistake; I still die in Demon’s Souls quite frequently.
Except for a few instances of ridiculous fall related deaths in the mine stage, I can concede that most of my deaths in Demon’s Souls are my fault.
I still get frustrated, yes; but I haven’t really felt the causes to be unfair or cheap.
Every now and again I get a little bit too adventurous, or a little bit too overconfident; and that’s generally when I find myself dead.
Thankfully, the penalty is just losing your money… All of it.
I’ll probably never get used to that, but I’ve never been too upset by it.
After all, it’s just money.
Thankfully, I’m not having to say that in regards to my purchase of Demon’s Souls.