Developer(s) - From Software + SCE Japan Studio
Publisher(s) - EU/AUS Namco Bandai
This game has been on my radar for a few years now. It won multiple Game of the Year awards, gamers seem to love it and has a current score of 89/100 on metacritic. In the past I have asked what peoples top 10 games are on the PS3 and Demon’s Souls was in many peoples list and I was dying to know why. Thanks to PS+, I was able to play the game and finally see why gamers loved this game so much. After 10 hours of gameplay, however, I wasn’t enjoying it and for the 3rd time in a row…I have quit the game and moved on.
The game starts with this amazing opening cut-scene that explains what has happened to the Kingdom of Boletaria, it looks stunning and sets the scene excellently. However the gameplay graphics are not quite as eye catching and come off as a bit…average. The game hasn’t got “bad” graphics by any means but they certainly won’t drop your jaw…often, anyway. Just walking around, the enemies look uninspiring and to be honest a bit boring. The same goes for the levels themselves, the first level is the Boletaria Castle which is just bricks, bricks and more bricks.
Occasionally however, there will be something that will widen my eyes in excitement (or terror) such as a 50 foot knight who you must
fight before progressing.
On the whole though, I wouldn’t say Demon’s Souls was a great looking game at all. Graphically, it isn’t pushing the bar and the design and colour palette is just drab, boring and repetitive. However, I must make it clear that I haven’t seen a quarter of what the game had to offer and my opinion is purely based mainly on the first Boletaria Castle and the Nexus (the hub of the world and the game, where you go to store all your items, level up, repair equipment, and learn magic in exchange for your hard earned Demon's Souls).
6/10Admittedly that looks freaking cool, I didn't get that far though
When it comes to sound, I never really take any notice, although I do remember some aspects of it for this game. Again, the opening cut-scene has great music playing in the background, so great that I sometimes just listened to it when I booted up the game, instead of skipping it.
Everything during gameplay was forgettable though. Again, it’s not that it’s bad...it just isn’t memorable. Swords clang, dragons roar and the menu makes clicking noises.
The aspect of sound I was not impressed with at all was the voice acting. It’s like they hired the most boring sounding people EVER to record the voices of the characters. Multiple times I went to walk away from someone while they were still talking because I was hoping they had finished. It got to the point where I just stopped talking to the characters and just used them to buy things off, this is coming from a guy who usually talks to every character in a game multiple times to make sure he doesn’t miss anything.
No need to go on, the sound was not poor, just unimpressive. But again I only played, really, a small portion of the game…so who knows maybe there were some more interesting characters further on.
Nevermind all that though, this game isn’t about impressing you with pretty graphics, fancy sound or a Shakespearean plot. No, this game is all about the gameplay. The game is undoubtedly unforgiving, the opening 2 hours are fairly brutal for newcomers. Having downloaded this, I didn’t have an instruction manual, so I wasn’t even sure what buttons to press. I ended up using 2 health potions trying to figure out the attack button! It took me over 5 hours to realize I can swap between items without going into the menu every time. Instead, you get a basic tutorial and then you are left to fend for yourself. Although this gives you a greater sense of achievement when you figure something out, it’s frustrating that I wasn’t taught some of the very basics at least.
Playing the game is of course very difficult, it is what the game is renowned for. Dying is very easy as it can take as little as one strike to kill you, even with full health you won’t take more than 5 hits to be killed. But you start to learn how each enemy behaves, at the same time you learn more about what you can do as you adjust to the gameplay until eventually the areas you were dying in constantly, you can get through without taking a hit. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, where defeating a new enemy is like completing a level in itself. Every time you complete a new section, you truly feel like you have accomplished something…after completing a stage, you feel like a gaming pro.Equipment is everything, you really need to make sure you read AND understand the stats
When you die, the game punishes you rather harshly. You comeback as a soul which means you lose all the currency you had built up, you have half of your health’s capacity and you can’t use some abilities like magic. For a game where dying a lot is the norm, it seems a bit brutal to punish you so harshly. It got to the point where I didn’t want to die anymore, more specifically I didn’t want to lose my magical abilities. So for the last 2 hours I played, every time I died I returned to the PS3’s XMB and rebooted the game back up to load up my last save (the game saves automatically), to when I was still alive and then attempted it again. This isn’t how you are supposed to play the game and I felt like I was cheating….but I also felt that dying wasn’t an option. Add to the fact I always played it in offline mode (the game is supposed to be online at all times) because I was afraid some t**ts would invade my game and kill me. In the end I realized I wasn’t playing this game how it was supposed to be played…and when I sat back and thought about it, I just didn’t find the gameplay fun. Sure it was incredibly deep and rewarding…but it was also stressful and terrifying…but most importantly, I wasn’t having fun.
I can see the appeal of the game. It’s a proper game for proper gamers, a difficult challenge that a lot of games these days just don’t offer. However it just has no appeal for me personally. 10 hours in and I’m quite simply bored. The stress/reward system feels more like work then playing a game, which isn’t my idea of a good time.
When I think of my favourite games of all time, they always have a memorable story. Demon’s Souls starts off well with that decent cut-scene but after that it’s downhill. As I said, I know this game isn’t about the story…but for players like myself, there needs to be some sort of narrative to drive me on to keep playing. Sure, there is a narrative here, it just becomes so uninteresting and sparse that it can feel like you are better off making up your own story in your head. The game is set in a dark fantasy world, players take control of a hero who has journeyed to the fictional kingdom of Boletaria, which is being ravaged by a cursed fog that brings forth demons who feast on the souls of mortals. It sounds good but thanks to poor characterization and rare (boring) story scenes, it just didn’t do anything for me. Who knows, maybe it really kicks off later in the game…but at almost 10 hours in, it didn’t do enough to make me want to keep playing.
It’s a bit unfair of me to give a game a rating that I wasn’t anywhere near completing, for all I know all the faults I pointed out may get ironed out throughout the game. Maybe one of the destinations you go to is a beautiful village with really interesting characters and an amazing twist in the plot. However after almost 10 hours, I have decided to call it a day. It has almost zero appeal to me, the story is pretty boring and non-existent, the gameplay hadn’t gripped me and could be a little too unforgiving and even visually it didn’t really have anything going for it.
I can appreciate why people love it and to be fair I might of needed to play it longer to appreciate more myself…but I want to move onto PS4 but not before completing my PS3 bucket list. So why am I wasting my time on a game that I’m just not enjoying? My only answer was to prove that I could do it…and for me that is a terrible reason to keep playing a game.5/10