Demon’s Souls: Retrospective
Demonís Souls conjures up a level of ambivalence within me that I havenít felt since I was thirteen and mad at my parents.† On one hand, they probably just finished beating me; on the other hand I loved them because theyíre my parents.† In some odd twisted way, itís almost comical that it took a fantasy role playing game to make me feel like that again. At heart, Demonís Souls is an old school dungeon crawler thatís been varnished to veneer sheen through the power of current generation technology.† And as an added sparkle, the developers thought it would be appropriate to shoehorn in some story about an old God taking over the world by releasing a fog populated by demons that consume
human souls (I get it, Demonís Souls ahhhhh).† An endless wave of heroes venture into the fog and none come out, almost like the tag line to some clichť horror title.† If youíre like me, the clichť is usually enough to get my attention, but in the world of Demonís Souls the story is never revisited in any meaningful way.† Friends who used to tell me I was better suited to reading books instead of playing games were probably right.
The words that have been used to describe the gameplay in Demonís Souls range from difficult to brutal to soul crushing.† And after playing about ten hours I felt that immersive and brutal was a fairly happy medium.† The game could be addictively un-fun, if such an adjective existed.† It didnít help that I started off as one of the more difficult classes to use, the disparity between thief and soldier was just so vast it made option of even choosing classes in the first place to be completely superfluous even though the customization options were overwhelming.† In the end, From Software could have just given me two choices: useless or useful, and without the ability to make my thief oh so pretty, after all her face was beaten in incessantly within the first hour.
Critics and players alike have repeatedly praised the way multiplayer works, with the ability for players to leave each other pre determined messages that warn you of the dangers ahead, while their blood stains treat you to their grisly demise, also warning you of the dangers ahead.† I probably came across hundreds of blood stains only to realize that it meant you should walk into a room then walk out, train out whateverís inside, and hope that you still didnít bite off more than you can chew.† Itís a system that punishes you for being reckless, and punishes you less for being careful, not the most fun of decisions to make.† Other multiplayer aspects involve other players joining your game to either kill you or help you.† And it lends itself to two new issues, having a bunch of high levels showing up to help you kill a boss literally sucks the difficulty right out of the game; a few blue guys show up, fireworks ensue, collect treasure.† Having players join in order to kill you on the other hand even less fun than the former, you kind of sit there and think, ďWell shit, like I didnít have enough to worry about before.Ē
Personally, I find the game a grind, its non-stop trial and error that has you walking two steps, dying, coming back, beating death back by the hair on your chin, only to turn the corner and die again.† The last time I tried to have any meaningful conversation about the game ended with me being lambasted and accused of not being a real ďgamer.Ē As far as Iím concerned now, trial and error gameplay is a grind, because it is repetitive.† Demonís Souls has only cemented that into my mind more than any other game, and I liked Ragnarok Online.† Too many have told me that the reward of overcoming the challenges in Demonís Souls is the same reward for a job well done: self-satisfaction.† For me, it simply isnít enough, I need some kind of payoff that doesnít involve me patting myself on the back and then realizing I look stupid.† Be it a cool story or awesome treasure, Demonís Souls was light on both leaving me wondering if I had faltered as a gamer, or simply got old.† In the end I didnít blame myself.† Instead, I decided ďgamerĒ was some minority of over-educated twenty something virgins living in their motherís basement lamenting realityís inability to cater to their every whim.† Itís a demographic that Iíd gladly bow out of.