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Review: Demon’s Souls

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Ever had one of those days where you walk into a castle infested with demonic warriors and getting killed within moments of entering said castle? You do? Well, expect a lot of that in Demon’s Souls for the PS3. Not only will it be demonic warriors, but also dragons, slugs, fire beetles, an insane king, and most likely of all, Red Eyes. Oh yes, Red Eyes will always be there to say hello to your warm lower orifice with his cold spear.

The game starts you off in the now-besieged castle, only to equip you with what you choose your character to be. First time around I choose to become a wizard, hoping to “burn” my way through the game, but soon came to an abrupt stop when a giant stone demon said hello with his giant axe. Before meeting my demise, the tutorial is clear on the functionality of the game controls, and no need to repeat those steps over and over again in order to remember how to pick your own nose. And while the game is slightly lenient with giving out Crescent Moons plants – think small HP potions – it isn’t so much forgiving when you die.

As I was smashed to pieces by said demon, all the souls I had collected were left on my blood stain until I either come back to get them or vanish forever if I ever died again. Unfortunately, you can never revisit the tutorial stage, but you can with the giant stone demon, of which I think his name was Vangard. As mentioned before of being killed – which will happen a lot – it’s not always going to be a bad thing. In fact, it’d do you good to realize your mistakes and not to repeat them. Sure you might accidentally run over a cliff, or accidentally run into the mouth of a dragon god, spewing hot molten lava towards your face.

vangard

Get used to it and move on, because there’s very little room for error in this game. Even with the various character roles, you’ll have to get used to the fact that wizards are always weak – yet broken, knights are the tanks, and nobody likes playing as the priest. Sure there are more classes, such as the thief, temple knight, and barbarian. But just saying those then you’ll already get the idea of how to work with those roles. Thieves have higher Luck, thus get more items on a kill – and higher critical rates, Temple knights are considered to be the “Red Mage” version of the knight class, meaning that they can do magic and use melee on a balanced level. And as for Barbarians… Well, you get the picture.

Some of you will come to a disagreement that the magic classes – except for priests – are broken. I’ve seen plenty of mages run into a cluster of foes, use that fire wall spell and turn everything to ash. This can be very helpful when it comes to being stuck in a tight corner, but it gets ridiculous when they just blatantly use it out right on the smaller foes. I do take back that priests are useless, but only a little, because there’s this one spell that is a absolute must-have, and that is the Rage of God. This spell will mess up just about any enemy within a large radius, even friendly NPCs!

Moving on from classes, let’s talk about enemy variety. Every RPG or action/adventure game needs a host of enemy variety, every now and then. Demon’s Souls delivers just that, and the bosses are of no exception. With each world are somewhat strategically placed enemies, varying from melee to magic. And as you move towards your goal, the enemies are located in blind spots and some you can’t even hit unless your character knows magic or has a ranged weapon! Let’s take the Shrine of Storms world for example; The first enemy you come across has this roll movement and then either does a light to hard attack. Then the game throws in a archer at the top of the stairs with a another rolling enemy, which after that comes two more rollers! Now, this might not be intimidating to you, but once you go there and face these foes, then you’ll realize how much of a pain in the ass these guys can be. Finally, you come across that stone demon mentioned before, and this time there are these flying demonic mantises, hurling stone spikes at you. Yeah, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg for this world.

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The enemies are of no joke and even with the best equipment, you still have to be careful, because they can overwhelm you. The wolves from the Burrow King world can easily have you surround with a laughing fat mage throwing fireballs at you. It does get to the point where it would seem impossible, but that’s when the summoning of Phantoms helps balance things out. But beware, there are two types of Phantoms. There’s the blue and black, both which can appear at random. In order to summon a blue Phantom, there will be a scribbled text with blue mist on the ground. When selecting the text, you can then see how well this Phantom has done in past multiplayer sessions. Summoning them isn’t always a success though, but worth the try. Almost all the blue Phantoms I’ve summoned have been of great help and made my progression much easier. Also, you have to rank the blue Phantom(s) that have fought the Demon boss in your world, and please, be honest.

Now black Phantoms are your eternal foes and more annoying than anything else in the game. Whenever you’re playing online and in revived form, these bad boys will randomly enter your world and mess you up big time. Well, that does depend on your skill and theirs. I’ve had a few run-ins with black Phantoms that didn’t have the right strategy and skill to avoid a freakin’ huge buster-like sword. Cleave’m in half and steal their souls! Here’s another thing about black Phantoms, they can’t enter your world if your playing offline, they can steal your souls if they manage to kill you and send you back to your soul form if by doing so.

Speaking a lot about souls and forms, souls are basically the “currency” in Demon’s Souls. You need them for just about everything, from repairing equipment to buying magic and items. The further you delve into a world, the more souls you get from an enemy. Then again, that’d be a pretty tough enemy to get a large amount of souls, so it really depends if it’s worth the trouble. About soul form and being revived are two majors issues, because being in soul form means that your health is always at 50%, but your attack is normal compared to being half when revived. Although black Phantoms can enter your world when in revived body form, your HP is at maximum. To be summoned into another player’s world, you’ll have to be in soul form. If you kill the boss of that player’s world, you’ll get revived. If you die but got some souls before doing so, you’ll stay in soul form but keep the souls. Some players prefer soul and others the body.

Even the bosses drop their own kind of soul, which can be used to get a magical item, spell, or used to obtain more souls. Best bet is to hold onto those boss souls in case if you come across a certain blacksmith or magic user. If you decide to beat the game and still have those boss souls, no worry because those and most of your inventory will carry on over to the New Game +. Another reminder is that there are three different magicians to learn from! So in order to help get that platinum trophy, you’ll have to play through until you reach New Game +++! I’m not too sure how many “New Game+” there are, but each time the game becomes even more difficult yet the enemies drop more souls.

Now onto the weapons and armor! Considering the vast amounts of different weapons and armor, the customization of your character would seem endless. If you’re a wizard, why stick with a dagger and a wand when you can have a large axe and a wand? Your archer has weak armor? Throw on some heavy armor and become a long range tank! Of course, doing all this and more would require the investment of more souls than a normal player would have to spend when their a wizard or archer. In a “normal” RPG, you can only reach level 99, but in Demon’s Souls it’s 999! Now that gives you more time to max out the stats needed to make you character perfect. Going back to weapons, there are hand-to-hand weapons included. Now, I don’t know who and even why a person  pummel a skeleton knight with duel wielding katanas, but it does make room to create a Monk class in this game.

That’s a few of the many reasons of why I love this game. It’s incredible that Demon’s Souls can be so unforgiving, yet it gives you an enormous amount of character customization, bloodstains to see the deaths of other players so that you don’t repeat their mistakes, and of course, blue phantoms! The voice acting is pretty good and believable, as well as the environments that you journey across as you make your way to the Old One. Not to mention the background music, which is on a epic scale when you’re fighting bosses! On the other hand, what drops this from a “SS” to an “S” is the fact that you can not use voice chat. I’m probably being picky, but it’s vital to warn your blue phantom friends that there’s a Maneater about to pounce them from behind, or Red Eyes charging from out of nowhere. I have no clue why the developers didn’t include it, but Demon’s Souls strongly needs it.

Thanks to Demon’s Souls Wiki for the pictures and helpful advice for the game!

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