With the 2013 gaming season recently underway, and the announcement of the Playstation 4, I felt now was the right time to revisit a classic PS3 exclusive: the highly lauded Demon’s Souls. Notorious for its extreme difficulty, it is still considered by many to be one of the best ARPG’s of this generation.
This is not my first go around with Demon’s Souls. I’ve created more than a few characters and endured many hardships trying to save Boletaria from the demonic hordes. I always began with the best of intentions and then got to a point where I became too discouraged or frustrated to move on. On this playthrough I promised myself I’d take a new approach and make a serious effort to finally beat the game once and for all. This endeavor was far more methodical, and I wasn’t above using guides or walkthroughs for assistance. Additionally, I had help from more than a few co-op partners when taking on the lead demons.
I re-started my adventure by rolling up a Royalist class, considered by many to be the “easy mode” character for lower levels, during a “Pure White Tendency” event. World tendency is one of the unique features Demon’s Souls brings to the table, and a player’s actions can have an effect on it as they progress. “PWT” lowers the difficult level considerably, but it also unlocks paths and events which are normally inaccessible. Thanks to some powerful equipment I was able to dispatch the first few bosses without much trouble. I also relied heavily on Demon’s Souls unique multiplayer element where random players can join others to assist them, or invade their worlds to kill them in PVP combat. Blue Phantoms represent other players in the cooperative portion of the game, while Red Phantoms are folks who are looking to hunt you down and murder you. Until its spiritual sequel Dark Souls followed suit, this was a unique style of play. Ghostly messages and summonings allow players to communicate and interact without breaking the isolated and oppressive feel of the game. Alliances can end abruptly, but having co-op partners can mean the difference between victory and bitter defeat in many battles.
A major strategy I didn’t capitalize on in prior plays was grinding. Demon’s Souls doesn’t require endless hours of farming enemies. It’s more of a risk and reward venture, where you try to kill as many high value enemies as you can without dying to bring a stash of souls back to the Nexus hub-world in order to level up. Eventually you’ll get to a point in your character build where your initial class selection no longer matters, and you will have some more flexibility with your equipment and spell selection. In addition to the extra levels, I completed some key side quests allowing me to trade in boss demon’s souls for powerful spells and items. This went a long way in keeping me ahead of the curve and from getting discouraged.
If you own a Playstation 3, you owe it to yourself to try Demon’s Souls. The game is available for $20 or less, and is one of the most atmospheric and engaging RPG’s on the platform. Almost five years after its release, and lurking in the shadows of its multi-platform successor, the game still has a thriving player community who are willing to help guide new players and assist them in tackling the vicious bosses. Just do yourself a favor and don’t be too proud to read a wiki or watch a Youtube video if you get stuck. It’s an incredibly challenging title, but also carries an incredible feeling of accomplishment when you complete a level and earn those trophies.