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Demon's Souls - Impression

Demon's Souls
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Atlus USA
Release Date: 10.06.2009

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Don't Fear the Demons

It seems that you can't go anywhere on the internet without someone whining or complaining about Demon's Souls. I either hear that the game sounds too hard or people are worried about players coming into their game to kill them. Well, I'm here today to clear up some of these misconceptions about the game, so that people will man up and play Demon's Souls instead of cowering fearfully in a corner.

"Demon's Souls is amazing, so don't be a pansy, pick it up."

The first thing that gamers need to understand is that Demon's Souls doesn't follow the cookie cutter pattern of other action RPGs. You can't just go wildly swinging into battle and expect to live. In fact, you shouldn't expect to live at all, since the intro is designed to kill you. Players need to understand that phantom mode is truly the normal mode of the game and that living mode is a lot like the star power in Super Mario Bros., it makes you more powerful, but don't expect it to last very long and don't be upset when it goes away. So not only is it okay to die and enter phantom mode in Demon's Souls, you should just embrace it.

Also, dying is not the end of the world in Demon's Souls, but merely a part of the game. As players battle through stages defeating enemies, they gain souls which are used to purchase and repair items as well as boost stats. Your souls build up in a pool and when you die, that's all you lose. All of your items are still with you and any doors you've unlocked in the stage are still open. All that happens is you just lose your souls. But, you can get them back by finding the place where you died and retrieving them before you die again, which is usually quite manageable. Overall you really lose nothing when you die, you just start over at the beginning of the stage and you can win back all that you've lost, so no harm done. If you stock up a lot of souls and are really afraid of losing them, then just travel back to the the Nexus (the main hub) and spend them.

Another concern I hear from people is that they are afraid of players jumping into their game and killing them. This is also nothing to fear. Players can only join your world when you're in living form, which you likely won't be in very often. They also have to be a phantom to join your world, because they are trying to steal your soul, nothing more. If you do happen to fall to a phantom, you don't lose anything more than dying to an enemy, so don't worry about them taking your items. There is no need to fear the online component. Higher level players are not going to be able to join up and kill you over and over for their own personal enjoyment like in MMOs. If you are like most people and spend the bulk of your time in normal mode, no one will ever be able to invade your world anyway.

I know that some people have said that they will play the game in offline mode only, but the online component provides much more content that it's a shame to miss out on. You can view messages from others, which are extremely helpful, such as a warning about an enemy ambush or trap. You can also see the shadows of other players that are in the same area as you and with a key item, you can even join another's game in 100% friendly co-op mode.

Enough about why you shouldn't fear Demon's Souls, here's why you should play it. It's immensely enjoyable and addictive. I'm not usually a fan of punishingly hard games, but Demon's Souls never felt like that to me. The game started off on the right foot with me, thanks to its highly detailed character creation system. So many creation systems are limited in design features, usually only allowing you to make some ugly horse-faced person, but I was able to craft a gorgeous, petite, redheaded female Temple Knight that I wish I could screen capture.

As I fought through the first stage, it was full of trial-and-error, but it was not frustrating. I truly felt like I was learning and improving and after only a few tries I was able to progress much further than before. Don't repeat the same insane methods expecting different results though, because sometimes you're just not meant to succeed at what you're trying to do. If you see two giant dragons on a hill with dozens of dead bodies surrounding them and a blood stain warning of someone rushing up to take the treasure and dying, it's likely a good idea to try a different direction. Once you finally do complete the stage and defeat the demon boss, you gain your body and go into the enhanced living mode. You can also return to the completed level and explore newly opened areas, but don't get too cocky or you might just end up walking into a trap and returning back to normal mode. Yes, I did just that. However, I was able to return to the powerful enemy that ambushed me and defeat her handily now that I was aware of her existence. I also earned a sweet set of armor from the encounter as well.

At the end of my first play session, I couldn't believe how long I'd been playing and just how engrossed I was in the experience. For gamers that complain about RPGs being a cakewalk, they should try Demon's Souls. The game is challenging, but never in my time was I frustrated beyond my own stupid mistakes. I was never pitted against overpowered enemies with no way out, as there were always other options. All of the issues that people are afraid of and whining about are irrelevant. The world is amazingly detailed, the gameplay is solid, the battles are intense, and the entire experience is surprisingly addictive. Demon's Souls is amazing, so don't be a pansy, pick it up.

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