Demon's Souls - PS3 [Digital Code]
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466 of 484 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2009
I had imported Demon's Souls in April, and finished it 3 times since then. I have a long review below but if you want a few sentences here it is:

The game has an excellent atmosphere, great character customization, enjoyable combat, some unique online elements, but very little story and minimal npc interaction. It is also very unforgiving, but it is strangely addictive if you don't get frustrated easily. It takes about 40 hours in your first play through. It's not because the game is huge... It's because you'll die a lot and repeat a lot, which results in playing very cautiously (which also adds to the atmosphere).


Demon's Souls is an action RPG game with some unique online elements. I loved the game but I can also see why some people (even RPG lovers) might hate it. Although I gave it 5 stars, I cannot say the game is for everyone. Just read the paragraph at the end where I explain some game mechanics, and if it sounds frustrating to you then might want to try the game first before buying.
For me 3 things are very important for an RPG. A good story and well-developed characters, deep character customization, tactical and fun combat.


In DS, the people in different realms/worlds are possessed by demonic souls and you are to get rid of them. When you kill them you collect their souls and get more powerful and eventually fight against the final demon. That's basically it. The game has very little story and minimal amount of non player characters (NPCs). There are about 15-20 NPCs in total (including the merchants and blacksmiths), and most of them are located in a hub called Nexus. Furthermore, you can talk to them but there are no dialogue trees. They'll say 2-3 new sentences after each time you kill a demon boss, giving you some background about the setting. Sometimes they'll initiate a sidequest, by asking you to find/do something. That's all.

If you are expecting something like Mass Effect or JRPGs in terms of story or dialogue this is not it. However, the game has a very dark and immersive atmosphere. It just sucks you in and makes up for its lack of story. Also, sometimes new characters/enemies appear depending on World Tendency (world tendency is something like an alignment that can change toward black or white), which provides replay value.

In sum, unlike most other RPGs, this is not a game that you play for the story. There is minimal story and dialogue, but the game has an excellent atmosphere which gives you the feeling of being alone and overwhelmed.

Character Customization

Character customization is probably the most important aspect of an RPG and this is where the game shines. You start the game with a certain class you picked, but it doesn't restrict you. You can develop your stats in anyway you like and completely turn it into something else (kind of like Oblivion). For example, weapons/armors have different stats requirements, but they are not restricted to classes. As long as your character meets the stats requirement you can use it. So you can mix and mash classes anyway you like. There are 8 different attributes, and when you level up you can raise one of those attributes by one point (there is room for up to 99 for each attribute).

Weapon upgrades are done by using the ores you find. You can do regular upgrades (e.g. long sword +2) or you can change it into a different weapon (e.g. dragon long sword) depending on the ores you found. There are several different types of ores that opens a different upgrade branch. There are also some special upgrades, if you choose to use a demon's soul that you obtained from a boss, which will give you a unique weapon.


The customization also affects your gameplay. For instance, you can wield double swords, sword and shield, sword and crossbow, sword and a wand, two shields (if you want to be fancy) etc. Moreover, any sword can be wielded two handed or one handed. Of course, if you choose to wield a two handed sword with one hand, you character becomes clumsy. If you choose to wield a one handed sword with two hands, then you make stronger attacks with different animations.

The combat is in real time and it is like an action game. In the controller, L1-L2 is assigned to the left hand, and R1-R2 is assigned to the right hand. L1 is used for guarding, L2 is either for parry (when wielding a shield) or attacking (weapon on left hand)). On the other hand, R1 is regular attack, and R2 is strong attack. You can also roll, run, but you cannot jump. So you end up having different combat gameplay and tactics depending on what you choose to equip.

Online Gameplay

If your PS3 is connected to the internet, you'll automatically play the game online. That lets you do different things. First, you'll see some messages left by other players. They can provide some clues, warnings etc. You can also leave messages but you can only create them by combining preset words and phrases. You cannot type whatever you want. And if someone finds your message helpful and rates it, then your health replenishes. Second, you'll see pools of blood and if you touch them it will show you a ghost of some other player and how he/she died. It's just another clue to help you in the game.

Third, and the most important one, is playing with/against others. If you are in body form, you'll see blue signs on the ground left by other players. By touching those signs you can summon up to two more people to your game and they'll fight along with you in your game helping you out. On the other hand, when you are in body form some other player can invade your game and try to kill you. If you are in soul form, then you can put a blue sign on the ground in order to be summoned by others or you can use an item to invade another player's game. However, you cannot just invite your friends to your game. If you and your friends are on different servers (which you have no control over) you won't see the signs they left and will not be able to summon them. If you happen to be on the same server, you can arrange a location in the game to put the sign (via XMB message) and then summon the other person.


In sum, Demon's Souls is one of the best games on PS3. It has a great atmosphere and addictive gameplay that makes you come back, even after you died for the tenth time in the same boss battle. Unfortunately it is not a game for the impatient. Just take a look at the cover art (the regular cover art which happens to be the Deluxe Edition cover in US release) of the game. You see a lone, battered knight, who is about to give up. That's Demon's Souls for you. If you are willing to take the challenge, victory will be very satisfying.

***About the difficulty and potential frustration***

First of all, the game is very unforgiving. Even regular enemies can kill you with 1-2 blows, and they will kill you many times. However that's not the main issue. The real difficulty comes from not being able to save in the middle of a stage/map. The stages don't have checkpoints either. Also dying is very costly. When you die, first you will drop your souls at the location you died (You gain souls by killing enemies, and souls are used as both experience points to improve your stats and also as money). Then you will lose your body (which means losing half of your life bar, making the game even harder) and you will respawn in soul form at the start of the stage. However all the enemies will also respawn. Furthermore, if you die again before reaching the location you died, you will lose all the souls you have dropped previously for good. That means no experience/no money from all that playing. Also reaching your corpse does not give your body back, it only gives back your collected souls. You can gain your body (half of your life bar) if you beat a boss, or invade another player's game and kill him/her, or use a special item.

In brief, you will be playing the same stage from the beginning over and over again, until you beat the boss at the end of the stage. In a lot of cases, you will not gain any experience/level during this process, because you'll die a second time before reaching your corpse. However, the stages are not very big. It generally takes about 5 to 10 minutes to get to the boss if you know the way and IF you don't die. A new respawn point appears at the end of the stage, after a boss is defeated. (The game has 5 worlds and each world has 4 stages/bosses). So, after you beat a boss you can spawn from that location if you want.

Still, a lot of people would probably hate this no save/checkpoint mechanic combined with the games unforgiving difficulty. It's like 80s arcade games which takes you back to the beginning of the stage when you die.
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157 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2009
Having spent just several hours with this game, it is already difficult to describe. It's difficult. Actually, no, it's punishing. fact, it can be maddeningly infuriating at times. It is also a complete blast.

I don't want to write an essay. In short, though, Demon's Souls is an action/RPG which is a bit like a combination of a 3rd-person adventure like Uncharted, a hack-n-slash action/RPG like Diablo, with the required thoughtfulness in swordplay of the original 2D Prince of Persia (you have to be an old-schooler to remember that one).

The game is difficult, but veterans of the 8-bit days will find the difficulty somewhat nostalgic. The game does not simply restart you unscathed 15 seconds from where you kicked the bucket. Rather, you have to start the level from scratch, and to regain your earned currency (which you earn by killing enemies, and use to buy improvements for your character), you must fight your way back to your corpse in spirit form with half of your health. Die before you get there? Kiss that currency good bye. The game is FAIR, though. You have the option of running, at your liberty, to the beginning of the level and exiting to the starting area to spend your winnings, so that you can return all-the-more powerful. When you feel like you are pushing your luck and the level is outgrowing your character skills, it's time to heed that advice. Of course, this IS a dungeon crawl game, so when you come back the enemies will have returned. Think of it as more souls (i.e. money) to be made.

It helps to go into this game EXPECTING to be in spirit form more often than not. The game assumes you will die a lot. In that sense, one should avoid frustration over death. It's a natural part of the game.

Battle must be approached carefully. Running in and hacking mindlessly will only tire out your character, and likely result in an unceremoniously awkward death to even the most bottom-rungs of the enemy food chain. You must work with your shield, your footwork, and given the right character your magic and ranged weapons to succeed.

All of this alone makes for a fantastic experience beyond any action RPG offered in this generation of games. What makes it a slam-dunk are the online aspects. The single player game takes advantage of your internet connection (though you can opt out by signing out of your PSN account). You will see occasional apparitions of other players fighting through the same level you are. Further, before long you will obtain an item that will allow players to invite you into their games to assist them. Later, a more sociopathic ability is obtained: the ability to break into another player's game, without their consent, hunt them down, and kill them. Either provides a bit of a "shortcut" to regaining your body, with the further effect of easing/intensifying the difficulty of the world around you...helping people "lightens" the world, harming them "darkens" it.

On top of this, the ability to examine bloodstains to view apparitional replays of other players' deaths is fantastic and adds to the feeling that you're not dealing with this alone. The game punishes EVERYONE, and they are struggling with you, and it will prove it via these replays.

This is no quick game. Reports from those who have played the imported non-US version claim play times of 80+ hours to conquer the game for the first time...nevermind 2nd and 3rd playthroughs, which supposedly come at a higher difficulty.

All that said, it is not impossible. In my very first shot at it, I actually survived for a good half hour in the first non-tutorial realm without dying, and when I realized this, I quickly found my way back out and spent my winnings to upgrade before I went and got myself annihilated (and make no mistake...I did shortly thereafter). That is what is fantastic about this game (so far for me at least): if you respect it, play conservatively, and don't do anything you wouldn't try in real life, you CAN have a reasonable chance at survival. Stay on your toes, don't push your luck, and survival IS possible. Often death is simply a result of a lapse in attention or a reckless decision. If, on the other hand, you approach it like you would, say, "God of War" or just about any other action game from this generation, you WILL pay a price for your stupidity. And it's wonderful.

Just to wrap up: the graphics are nothing short of what you'd expect in a top flight PS3 game. The sound is amazing...I have never wanted surround speakers so badly. And, as I mentioned, the gameplay is phenomenal.

My only warning: casual gamers need not apply. Do NOT approach this game unless you like a challenge.

Looks like I wrote an essay, after all. It could use some editing, but I have some playing to do.
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81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2009
I just got the game yesterday. After about 4 hours, the only progress I made so far is just past the tutorial. And I beat Ninja Gaiden Sigma on Normal difficulty for crying out loud!!! This is the game that tutorial stage could kill you!!!

This game is very unforgiving, so casual player be warned. There's no checkpoint and save point. When you die, you start at Nexus (the hub), you dropped all your souls at the place you died and reborn in soul-form, and if you die again, all the souls you dropped are lost. So, you'll most likely go through you first hours getting nowhere.

But, oddly enough, the game keeps you coming back. It's strangely and highly addictive in nature for those who prepared to accept frequent deaths and be patient with it. You'll learn little by little, use less and less time in each fight, and lose less and less health each time.

It's like those NES games (Ninja Gaiden, Megaman, Castlevania, etc.) that you keep dying and dying and dying and dying...and dying until you learn the patterns of enemies and traps by heart. It's frustrating, but satisfying as hell when you finally rise above the challenge.

Even so, I still prefer the game to have difficulty settings or save options for single player. People pay the same money, so they should be able to enjoy the game as they feel comfortable. Developers could reward them differently rather than leaving the casual players out of the circle entirely. And it'd be better for marketing too.

One flaw that I don't see the point why should this happen is that you can't pause the game in single-player. Why !?!? I know that adds realism to the game, but hey... players have to pee sometimes :P

Combat feels responsive and highly TACTICAL. This is by no means a hack-and-slash game, so bashing frenzy won't do you any good here. I'd call the melee combat in this game a fencing simulation. You're no God of War. You're just a person with a sword. You stab them, they die. They stab you, you die. So, be very cautious.

Graphics looks decent enough, not exactly PS3, but more like a PS2.5 game. The game looks better with low brightness, but that makes it harder to see enemies and traps. Though it's understandable that this game is not from a giant team like Square-Enix, but still, I believe they could do better with normal maps and texture details. Also, the character face looks hideous. Making the game looks Western doesn't mean they have to give up the pretty-face trend of the JRPGs. People still love looking at pretty people.

Also, the physics engine is a bit weird here. Pieces are flying around low-gravity-like when props are broken. Enemy corpses are rolling along when you walk over them, and their heads are twitching as if they're listening to iPod while lying dead XD

In conclusion:
I took one star off for the extreme unforgiving nature of the saving system, the lack of choice in difficulty, the no-restroom-break policy, and the less-than-impressive graphics. Other than that, the game is great.

Casual player who doesn't want any frustration should avoid this game at all cost. The game has gained its reputation for being very unforgiving since its first Asian release. You've been warned, and I'm warning you again.

If you can't take it easy when you die once and lose almost all your hours of progress, then DON'T listen to the hype of hardcore players. There's nothing wrong with liking easy games. Because even the greatest game of all eternity doesn't serve its purpose if it doesn't entertain you.

But if you feel up to the challenge, go for it. The game WILL forge you into a real warrior. I'm not there yet. But I'm having a lot of fun dying on the way there. I'm still halfway through Uncharted 2, but all I'm wanting to play now is this game.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2010
This game is amazing! Not since final fantasy 10 has a game compelled me to play it for over 100 hours. It's also the first PS3 game of the 20 or so that I own that I felt would be an insult to not get the platinum trophy.

I'm going to start off by saying that this game wasn't as hard as everyone said it was. I mean yes your going to die at least 4 or 5 times per satge the first time you play it but those deaths are learning experiences and if you PAY ATTENTION you will learn and get better. Also it's impossible to beat it without a guide in my oppinion. I used a wiki guide that I found and its a favorite on my tool bar now.

Theres really no story to get involved with just kill demons and take their souls and stuff. But that also means that you can play it over and over without getting sick of it. Like the 3 times you have to beat it to get the platinum trophy. the world tendency and character tendency adds an extra level of depth as does the online which is think is what makes this game so fun.

Also I think that is should be noted that even though this game is an "rpg" is not in the sence that you will never be uber powerfull no matter how much you level up. Even normal enemies can kill you in like 2 hits in new game+++.


1. Start out as a royal class. they are balenced and start out with soul arrow which is the BEST spell in your first playthrough. I used it to kill about half of the bosses.

2. Play the game in soul form ALWAYS. This means you dont have to worry about black phantoms invading(other players). You will need to equip the cling ring which is easily obtained in level 1-1. This also means your footsteps are silent so enemies can't see you as soon.

3. Playing the game in soul form also means that world tendency doesn't change when you die. So all those things you heard about the gaming getting harder the more you die doesn't apply to you!

4. Whenever you kill a demon and regain your body suicide in the nexus by jumping off the stairs. Make sure you don't land on any npc though, they could attack you!

5. As said in 3 if you upset an npc enough they will attack you so don't swing your weapon around in the nexus. If they attack you they won't help you anymore for the rest of the game cycle.

6. Once you beat level 1-1 go to level 4-1. It's got the best bow to level up and at the begining of 4-2 theres a great soul farming spot.

7. Use the wiki guide it will save your SOUL!!!!!!!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2009
many people have covered the story, mechanics etc.

having a *little* up-front knowledge about how to play the game dramatically drops the frustration factor:

1) almost always play in soul-form. when you're resurrected, suicide in the nexus. this avoids all frustration around altering world tendency when you don't intend to, and also eliminates invasions by black phantoms.
1a) if you're afraid of doing a level, go into soul-form and volunteer to help someone with the blue stone, then explore the level as a blue phantom.

2) get a strong shield (the purple flame shield (grabable from 1-1 dragon's nest) is one of the best) and winged spear early. great thing about spears is you can attack while shielded! makes the game dramatically easier.

3) farm souls from 4-1 (shrine of storms) in early game, 4-2 in mid-late game

4) unlock the shortcut/elevator in 2-1 (stonefang tunnel) asap to get access to the other blacksmith. ONLY use him. he can show you different upgrade paths at are only available when a weapon is +0, +3 or +6 (e.g. compound long bow +3 is your only path to sticky compound long bow...sticky+5 is about the most powerful bow).

5) understand the key to making weapons do more damage: the weapons modify their damage according to different stats. e.g. an S/A/B/C weapon takes most of its extra dmg from strength, a bit from dexterity, a little from magic and even less from faith. an -/-/S/A takes most of the dmg modifier from magic and faith. so you don't have to rely on strength or base attack to do damage. these stat modifiers change as the weapon is upgraded, so even though something might start D/E/-/- it might end up S/A/-/- by the time it's fully upgraded.
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133 of 164 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2009
After playing this game for over 60 hours (including several re-starts), I decided it's time for a review. Let's start off with the good. The graphics are relatively good, but nothing really wows you here. The worlds are varied, and it is a treat to explore these lands, however dangerous and deadly they are. The combat system is deep and the controls are pretty good. The lock-on feature while essential to the game can be problematic at times, and at least for me has caused an untimely death on more than one occasion. The atmosphere in this game is out of this world. There are places in this game that will really creep you out. Some enemies will be two feet in front of you and will not be visible because sometimes you'll be wandering around in virtually pure darkness. This game definitely excels in the "freak you out" department with it's atmosphere and host of deadly monsters. On that note, let's talk about the bosses. Some of the bosses you encounter here are ridiculously terrifying and tremendously ferocious. I have caught myself holding my breath and shaking with fear before these behemoths... you will feel like an ant in front of a lion. For me, this is the best part of the game; to be able to fight bosses that are many times larger, faster, better equipped, and much more powerful than you are. It really does feel good to defeat such imposing enemies.

Now for some bad, and there's plenty of it. Let's start with this no checkpoint, no save, no pause, die and start all the way from the beginning, lose all your souls business. The only reason to have a system like this in place is to torture and frustrate players. There is no excuse for a game of this difficulty level to force you to start a level over, and over, and over, and over, and then some more over again. I would have given this game four stars or more if it at least had checkpoints and pauses, but they do not exist. In order to really level up, you will need to replay levels dozens upon dozens of times, if not hundreds, and it really does get exceedingly repetative and just not fun. Let's not even talk about 'farming' for items and hoping for an enemy to drop that special something you need. To be honest, my first couple of hours into this game, I didn't think it was that difficult. I had done some research and learned that the royalty class was an excellent one to start with and I was able to defeat the first three levels and bosses while only dying twice. I played extremely cautiously and treated every single enemy almost like a boss and it worked to my advantage. Everything was going great until the following... I recall fighting my way through and a tremendously difficult level and stayed alive long enough for the privilege of fighting an inconceivably difficult boss. I was somehow able to bring its life meter down to around 15%, and guess what happened next, I was annihilated... what this meant is that I was then forced to do this all over again from the very beginning of the stage. What's worse is all those thousands of souls I had accumulated now lay at the bosses lair. I lost my patience and attempted to rush my way through the level to get my souls back. By breaking my successful formula of caution and patience, I made the worst possible mistake one could make in this game... I began to die in a quick and consistent manner. This causes what's called your world tendency to turn black. What happens is the game becomes exponentially more difficult the more you die (in body form)... and this horrendously vicious system is never explained to you until it's too late. You will experience countless events that will make you want to yell expletives at the top of your lungs. Everyone who's played this game knows that souls are the "everything" of this game. You need it to buy equipment, items, level-up, upgrade weapons, and so on. I have lost over 29,000 souls at least twice now , and once I lost over 70,0000 souls cause I was in the middle of a boss fight and was trying to cast a spell to get me the "h" out of there and back to the nexus (home base), and the boss would damage me before I could complete the spell meaning my doom and the loss of all those souls forever. No player should ever have to experience such a loss. I believe this game is in desperate need of a strategy guide. I've had to go on Demon's Souls wiki about a million times already for help with weapons upgrades, special-items, NPCs, world-tendency, character tendency, etc. etc. etc. There's just way too much information that a player needs to succeed that is not provided. Some semblance of a story is there, but no nearly enough to satisfy even the average RPG player.

I thought I reached a turning point, when I defeated what's called an in-game black phantom of world 4-1. In my book, these things are major demons actually worse than most bosses. I was so happy I thought nothing could stop me now. I began to level up like crazy and defeating everything in my path. I am currently a level 92 character and I unlocked this new area and gave it a try. After a couple of stupid mistakes, this new area is now in "pure black" condition, meaning it's now at the absolute pinnacle of difficulty. Now, I run into these two mini-bosses that INSTANTLY kill me in ONE blow with either a melee attack or magic. What kind of game has REGULAR enemies that can immediately kill you in one blow when you're almost a 100 level character and have defeated more than 8 bosses and levels and even killed three in-game black phantoms and one archdemon(uber final boss). I mean, it doesn't make any sense to me at all and frustrates myself and so many others to no end. But wait, it gets worse..., when I switch to body form to try and get more hp and attempt to summon other players to help me to defeat this enemy, I get invaded by a black phantom (another player) who completely destroys all my equipment, kills me, and steals my souls. It cost me about 7,000 souls just to repair my equipment. I'm a life-long gamer and I do enjoy a challenge, but this is just one of the many examples I could list that keep me from loving this game.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2012
OK, so I'm late to the Demon's Souls game, having first dumped hours into Dark Souls on Xbox on multiple playthroughs, and NG+'s. Many reviews have praised this game, so I wanted to do this review a little different, reviewing it from the perspective of a Dark Souls veteran, as I suspect many will play Dark Souls, then come to Demon's Souls to get more of the same. And the games are similar, but there are many gameplay elements that are unique.

Overall, the atmosphere is just great, although it can be opressive in some areas (Tower of Latria is just straight up creepy)...the game is just much more dark versus Dark Souls. The game is difficult, and will punish (sometimes brutally) players that do not take their time, or those that make even smallest of mistakes. I breezed through first couple of areas, but 4-1 and 3-1 quickly beat me down. The world tendency (and character tendency) can drastically affect gameplay, opening new areas and access to weapons, armor, characters unaccesible otherwise, plus spawning more difficult black phantom versions of enemies. As a player you have some control over the world tendency, and will have sole control over it (at least in North America) when severs go offline end of May 2012. The best way to understand the tendencies, is to check out the Demon's Souls wiki. The dialogue in these games is just fantastic...there's not much of it, but it tells just enough of the story, and communicates the overall desperate, down-trodden nature of the NPCs so well.

Some differences between the two Souls games, aside from world/character tendencies:
There is no estus for healing up. Here you use grasses with different healing properties, which are dropped by enemies, found, or purchased from venders. There are no bonfires that act as check points and replenish your estus flasks. You must explore areas fully to open shortcuts from area beginnings to the boss. There are fewer weapons and armors, but possibly more upgrades paths/materials for the weapons. And I'll take Firelink over the Nexus a s akind of home base, at least once you're able to warp to/from bonfires. If you die and remain in soul form, you play at a disadvantage with only half health (or 2/3 if you find a certain ring early on), and cannot summon help. If you revive to body form (by defeating a boss or using certain stones), you have full health, can summon help, but can also be invaded. If you're summoned or invade as a phantom, you have lower health as you're in soul form, but you can heal using the above mentioned grasses, which really changs the dynamic of multiplayer. Also, using magic in Demon's Souls is almost like "easy mode." Combat is more "tight," more visceral, and a bit more polished in Dark Souls, as is the flow of the game. However, Dark Souls seems to utilize more cheap tactics (Silver Knight archers, Bed of Chaos) or moments in the game than Demon's Souls, with the exception of one NPC that will totally jack things up. Make sure you have some form of ranged attack. You better read those item/weapon descriptions, as they offer gameplay hints.

I consider Dark Souls my favorite video game of all time (console, pc, portable), so I wanted more Souls action. I purchased a refurbished PS3 for the sole purpose of playing Demon's Souls. I do NOT regret my purchase. Why if it isn't Trusty Patches, the one and only! These games stand on equal footing, each with aspects both worse and better than the other, but are so similar in spirit, that if you are a fan of one, purchase and play the other. Umbasa!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2013
This game was way too hard for me. The graphics are beautiful, the controls are crisp, and the development is definitely top-tier.

They are very straightforward about the difficulty of this game, and the reviews verify just how difficult of a game this is.

You have to be a smart, committed gamer to beat this game.

I am neither. This game was too difficult for me to master, and I am little more than a casual gamer. That isn't the developer's fault. They were certain, as were the reviews, that I was adequately informed as to what this game was.

I tried it, was terrible at it, and thus, didn't like it. It is a very well made game. It just wasn't the right game for me.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2010
Like others, I was hesitant to buy this game based on its name(Demon's I really wanna spend money on a title like this?) and the reviews describing how difficult the game is; however, the reviews were overwhelming positive so I had to see what the deal was with Demon's Souls.

Overall, this is one of the best games I've ever played and I hope they make a sequel very soon. Reviewers that don't like DS usually criticize the game for being a) too difficult, or b) too creepy. The gameplay of the game is indeed tough because the enemies' attacks do a lot of damage and if you die, you'll start from the beginning of the level. This reminds me of NES games like Megaman or Ninja Gaiden when recognizing patterns and avoiding strikes were priorities since dying meant starting over. In my opinion, DS is very fair and realistic in its gameplay--if you get hit by a swinging halberd or blasted by a fireball, it will naturally hurt a lot and you might die.

When this kind of gameplay is combined with the kind of surreal and grisly environment presented in DS, you will be very cautious in your approach, especially the first time. In my first go-round, there were levels that had the tension and dark feel of a Resident Evil game, where I had my shield ready at all times and manuevered very slowly around corners and ledges. It's really a testament to the superb graphics and sound of DS.

This game rewards having patience, understanding patterns, and reacting properly. I have died embarrassingly from rolling away from an enemy only to fall off a cliff or spazzing out and button-mashing in panic only to have my attacks blocked, my guard exposed, and my chest impaled in return. But you learn from your deaths, and that's the beauty of the game. The game only becomes frustrating because you made it that way; as you move forward you realize that DS isn't really that hard. When you clear a level though, you can breathe a sigh of relief and feel like you earned something. All those souls you managed to keep can be used to customize your character to any way you see fit.

Throw in a unique multiplayer dynamic, and DS is even more fun. It's cool to help people beat levels and bosses as well as recruit 1 or 2 others to assist you. There is some sort of unspoken camaraderie to it all. Likewise, you can invade another player's realm or be invaded by another player, which exhilirating in its own right. The replay value of DS is big. If there is ever a sequel for DS, I am sure the multiplayer system will be expanded on.

I'll give Uncharted 2 the credit it deserves as PS3 game of 2009, but DS is the dark horse runner-up that could have taken the title.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2010
The beauty of this game is that it doesn't give you ANYTHING. You have to fight for every inch. That's including beating a level, obtaining an objective or simply figuring out the story. They don't even give you the full story! This game spoon feeds you NOTHING and a lot of people will hate it for that. You die, you start the level over with all the enemies respawned, all the souls you'd earned gone (in game currency) and you're in Soul Form with half your Body Form health (but you do increased damage). You die again before reaching the spot you died originally and getting your souls back and you lose ALL of the souls. There are no save points, there is no pause and the game doesn't care that you're crying like a little girl (the game does auto-saves, so you won't lose your progress or your items). I've read reviews with people talking about the need to research Demon's Souls to figure out things like upgrading weapons, boss strategies as well as Character and World Tendencies. Because, honestly, if you try to figure it all out on your own, it's going to take quite a bit of personal time investment.

For me, I really enjoyed that aspect of the game. When you begin, it's rather pretty straightforward after playing the tutorial. You know the basic controls and how to get the job done essentially. After the first boss, though, you really don't get any further guidance from the game. You get a short bit of information and that's it. There's no real linear progression, you go to whatever stone you want next, there's no definitive point where you get the rest of the story, it's all up to you. If you want to piece the story together, you literally have to speak with each character, including hidden and unlockables, give certain ones specific items, read all the captions and read the item histories. It's a tough process and it's actually more akin to piecing together a puzzle or figuring out a mystery. To me, I LOVED that sort of open world feeling, the vagueness and the reliance on the player to figure things out.

If you've ever watched the film "The Third Man", this game seems to play on that sort of feeling on alienation for the viewer. In that film, practically everyone speaks Italian EXCEPT the protagonist and there's NO SUBTITLES. He and you have NO idea what's going on and you have to pay attention if you're going to get anywhere. Demon's Souls is similar in that it throws you into this mess and says, "Figure it out, win the battle." The best part is, you don't have to figure it out if you don't want to. You can just play the game and not care at all about the story or the history of the land you're involved in. You just have to kill, collect and get stronger if that's all you want to do.

Further, the whole game is simply much more difficult on your own. The thing I enjoy about this is that it sometimes makes you dip into the community surrounding Demon's Souls (what game isn't better with some company?). Basically, as mentioned in another review, if you're connected to the internet, it automatically goes to Online Mode. What this means is you can read messages other players have left behind as clues to hidden items, hidden characters, hidden creatures, traps, strategies etc. It's an excellent system that has short, preset messages anyone can leave on the path. You can't write your own message, you have to use the preset ones due to the designer's desire to not bog down the experience and it's excellent. Beyond that, you have the option to Summon in 2 other players who've left their Blue Stone marks on the ground, who could be complete strangers, to help you. It's a great system if you're having trouble and it's excellent in that even if you don't know anyone who plays the game, you will nearly ALWAYS have help if you want it (assuming you're in Body Form that is). If you die and lose your Body, you can place down your own Blue Stone that allows players to Summon you into their world so you can help them and if you achieve your objective, you'll receive your body back and be sent back to your own world ready to Summon your own help.

I really can't stress enough how much fun the online system is, both in receiving help and in helping others. You also have the option to infiltrate another player's game by using a Black Stone if you're in Soul Form. The creatures of that level will work beside you rather than against you in killing the player you've invaded and, should you succeed, you'll be revived and gain your Body Form back. Should you fail, you simply walk away with a bruised pride.

As far as customization goes, this game is excellent. Like others have stated, you begin with a general class, but this really only starts you off with specific weapons, armor, items and stats that are generally associated with that class. It does not limit you. You pave your way in this game in basically all regards and define your character. If you want to be a Mage that wears plate armor and carries a massive sword or hide behind a giant tower shield, you can do that. If you want to be a Priest that casts Magic too, you can do that. You simply build your stats however you wish as all the items in game are determined on stats, not class. You build your stats however you want, so you determine your play style and methods of destruction. What's more, is you can customize your weapons to take on specific attributes. What's important about this is that, say you're a Mage, you want your sword to do a lot of damage, but in most RPG fantasy games you need Strength or Dexterity to increase weapon damage. In Demon's Souls, you can upgrade your weapon to do damage based off your Magic, or you can upgrade it to give you Mana back, etc. What's nice about that is you don't need to level up Str and Dex to have a weapon that does a lot of damage. You can be a Mage and still wield a sword that does massive damage based on the stats you want rather than need.

They do a great job in making the whole process highly personalized. Will you need to look up sources from time to time? Most likely, unless you want to go through trial and error. Is that necessarily a bad thing? For me, I feel it makes a good game great. If anyone remembers old school gaming on the NES, you may remember having to dial their hotline a few times to get past some pretty crazy puzzles or game mechanics that you had to basically get blind sloppy lucky on without getting outside info. Now? You've got Google and masses of other nerds playing the same game where everything about the game is at your fingertips, seconds away. They even have their own forums where people help each other out constantly. So, if you don't want to figure it all out, it's right there for you and the game encourages a community type feel, a game where people work together and swap information. Because, in reality, if you're waging a war, you're probably not doing it alone, right?

Beyond that, the difficulty being as brutal as it is is really the true winning point of Demon's Souls. Like I said, you have to fight for EVERY inch, for everything. Even the lowest of enemies can take you out in one or two hits if you aren't careful. While some find this frustrating, I find it exceedingly rewarding. Even the most minor achievements and successes in this game can make you feel more accomplished than beating most current games. Every step keeps you perched on the edge of your seat anticipating what might be behind the next corner. When you have so much at risk and so little room for error, you make absolute sure you're playing at your best, thinking on your feet, becoming your own personal master strategist. When you turn Demon's Souls on, you're invested. At the start, you'll feel like breaking your controller, but after you gain some levels and make some progress, your moves in game become second nature, you won't want to put your new controller down. Even after you've beat the game, you can start New Game +, making the game progressively more difficult each time. If you want to upgrade all your gear and be the biggest, baddest player, you'll want to keep going to collect more items and more materials.

Long after you beat it, you'll be sitting around looking for people to PvP against or to help some poor sap out with that crazy, difficult boss. But, honestly, if you want a game that's great for your money, this is it. You can look at a boss that takes you hours to kill as a frustrating roadblock that's driving you insane, or you can see it as money well spent by how much time you're getting out of it. I'll be honest, I come from playing MMOs where bosses could take a week or two to learn and kill, so when I was playing a PS3 game and having to take a few hours to learn a boss, I was pretty happy with whoever designed the encounters. Trust me, the bosses are MASSIVE and they are brutal, unforgiving challenges. Sure, they are tough as nails, but they are fair and once you figure them out, the fight is yours and you'll feel like an absolute champion. You need to move quick and find the weakness fast or you're on your way back to the very beginning. So, if you're looking for a challenge, a game that has infinite replay value or a great RPG that has you working for everything but let's you take nearly total control of your character, this is the game for you. It will be a love hate relationship, but in the end, you will definitely be satisfied.
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