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Demon's Souls - Review


RPG Demon's Souls on PlayStation 3 at GAME

Not For The Faint of Heart

Demon's Souls is a game for anyone who thinks games used to be harder than they are now - it will pummel you into submission, and scare you to death whilst doing it. In short, it's a brutal, bleak, horror-tinted action combat RPG that pits your lone character against a universe full of violent demons.

They range from former human soldiers to agile, double scimitar-wielding skeletons, pouncing flame-creatures, octopus-headed guards, embryonic plague-carrying monstrosities, even Death himself. There's absolutely no shortage of things to kill you, and they're all intent on doing so. Occasionally you'll meet another lone survivor struggling away in the dark tunnels of a dungeon, but most of the time, you're on your own against everything the game can throw at you.

Unfriendly Territory

The five massive worlds are all split into three or four different sections, each guarded by some of the most inspired and disturbing bosses we've ever seen, from the fifty-foot Tower Knight in the Boletarian Castle to the plague-ridden sludge monster in the Valley of Defilement. Demon's Souls is a beautifully crafted dark fantasy, and looks as much like a survival horror game as an RPG.

RPG Demon's Souls on PlayStation 3 at GAME

You need varied tactics to defeat all of the evil in Demon's Souls' world, and thankfully the game doesn't restrict you by your choice of character class. You can use any weapon or piece of armour you can scavenge, from a simple sword and shield to bows and arrows, wands and healing talismans, hammers, cleavers and much else, and develop your character however you like without concentrating purely on strength or magic.

You can creep through dark tunnels with a lance, protected by two-inch-thick body armour and a massive shield, or dart around with a dagger and a wand. You can boldly take on hideous black skeletons face-to-face, relying on your skill with a broadsword and shield parries, or take a more cautious approach, chipping away at a foe's health from a distance with long-range arrows and magic spells.

No Mercy

The game involves an awful lot of dying. Every time you die, you start again at the beginning, with all the enemies you just struggled to overcome back where they were. There is no compromise. There's not even a pause button. You get better, or you get nowhere.

Most of the time you'll be playing as an already-dead Soul, without your physical body and with reduced health. The only way to get your body back is by defeating a boss - or helping someone else to defeat one online.

Demon's Souls' online features are truly extraordinary. Players can leave written messages on the floors to warn each other of danger ahead, or point the way towards a hidden treasure. Ghosts of other players, usually depicting their grisly last moments, appear now and then as you wander around.

RPG Demon's Souls on PlayStation 3 at GAME

Starship Trooper

Demon's Souls' online features are truly extraordinary. Players can leave written messages on the floors to warn each other of danger ahead, or point the way towards a hidden treasure. Ghosts of other players, usually depicting their grisly last moments, appear now and then as you wander around.

You can also offer yourself up to be summoned into someone else's game as a helpful Blue Phantom, working together to defeat a boss. Or, perhaps more temptingly, you can invade another's game as a Black Phantom and attempt to assassinate them for their collected souls. This makes things even more tense; once you've been invaded, you become convinced that every shadow behind every wall is your would-be murderer, armed to the teeth and with an enchanted arrow notched and aimed at your chest.

Demon's Souls is an incredible videogame. It doesn't pander to the player at all, doesn't explain itself, doesn't make any concessions - instead it invites you to figure it out for yourself, to overcome the seemingly impossible. It's a unique and intriguing character, and if you can take the pain, it's one of the most rewarding games you'll ever play.

GAME's Verdict

The Good:

  • A challenge like no other.
  • Masochistically addictive.
  • Incredibly scary.

The Bad:

  • Monstrously difficult.
  • Unforgiving at first.
  • Stat screens are confusing.

Published: 18/06/2010

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