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Old 11-02-2009, 02:13 PM   #1
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Arrow Please rate this review: Demon's Souls

Cut me some slack, this is my first submission. Sorry for the formatting, it didn't translate well from Word. Thanks.

HIGH: Clearing stages on the first pass with summoned souls.

LOW: Foolishly losing large amounts of souls.

WTF: That giant ball of arms just cut me to ribbons!

The best place to begin reviewing this game is with the tutorial. After moving dozens of sliders back and forth for half an hour in your quest to create the perfect character, you’ll be thrown into a short preview of what’s to come. You’ll find that combat can be either relatively risk-free, or very much the opposite, and that either way the game is simply unforgiving. Treasure will be interspersed throughout castle-like locale and will occasionally be cleverly hidden from view. The tutorial’s location itself is rather plain, but it blends in well with the game’s serious and sometimes intimidating undertones. Upon meeting the tutorial’s boss you’ll quickly realize how unforgiving the game truly is.

You’ll soon find yourself in the Nexus, an immense building designed to funnel souls into the hands of the old King Allant, and your home for the entirety of the game. In some twist of fate the Nexus awoke a sleeping demon that plunged the land into darkness. You see, souls are empowering, and you’ll be spending them to gain levels, and to purchase, repair, and upgrade items and equipment. The Maiden in Black, your contact for gaining levels, will task you with slaying demons and collecting their souls. She’ll send you to a total of five different worlds where you’ll fight against vicious populations of demons.

One of the first things you’ll realize, while playing Demon’s Souls, is that there’s always something to learn. You’ll find yourself memorizing the way stages are laid out, the attack patterns of enemies, how to survive boss encounters, and much more. Once you take your very first step into the world of the Boltarian Palace, you’ll soon realize you’ve got a huge job ahead of you. It’s imperative that that learn the ins and the outs of such a large stage when a single misstep could easily send you straight back to the beginning. This is true everywhere in the game. Death means beginning the stage from the very beginning, wrestling with the same enemies that most likely bested you in the first place, and reclaiming whatever amount of souls you lost upon dying. One thing I learned very quickly: never leave the Nexus without spending your souls!

Now, don’t get me wrong; as infuriating as it sounds (and inevitably becomes), complete and total mastery of each stage is extremely satisfying and rewarding. Your time will be split between fighting the good fight while alive and fighting it while in a soul form. Both forms have distinct advantages and disadvantages during battle. While alive, you have the opportunity to summon the souls of other players to assist you in battle. Conversely, while dead, you’ll have the opportunity to allow other players to summon you into their worlds to assist them. You may also risk breaking into their worlds in an attempt to kill them, but it can be difficult if they’ve already summoned help. Here, death offers new and different experiences. Unfortunately, that’s as far as cooperative play goes, but there is a means of dueling other players if you’d rather not risk breaking into their worlds.

Combat is pleasantly fluid though complex. Behind the blocking, parrying, attacking, and spell casting there are a number of different and often vague stats. A quick look through the handbook can clear some of it up, but you’ll find yourself returning to it a lot. Because you can equip almost anything you want in this game, there are measures in place to make sure you don’t load yourself down with the best of everything and head off. For example, armor that’s too heavy for you will slow you down and limit your evasive actions. Neglecting your stamina in general will limit your physical actions, while neglecting intelligence will limit your magical actions. Adventuring through the game going toe-to-toe with enemies is challenging and rewarding, but you’ll find that magic almost always has the upper hand. Most, if not all, enemies can be easily overwhelmed with magic, and many bosses simply move too often making it difficult to stay on top of them with a weapon. On top of that, even common enemies can defeat you in one or two hits.

The worlds you’ll be visiting include castles, mines, a prison, a shrine, a swamp, and more. While every world is artfully done and pleasure to walk through, each is just as much a threat to you as the demons inhabiting it. Pitfalls are one of the biggest threats, with some levels featuring a number of risky jumps to obtain treasure and others unexpected falls. Each stage is brilliantly done and creates or sustains a mood for the entire world. Treasure can be found almost anywhere, though you can expect that the better it is the trickier it will be to get to. It’s always rewarding to explore, even if you find only a handful of grass for healing. It’s almost a pleasure to go back and grind out a few thousand souls in previously completed stages because they’re so well crafted and interesting.

In my opinion, there are very few problem areas in the game. Its harsh, unforgiving style is completely intentional and easy to appreciate if it’s your kind of game. I do have a problem with the way combat is more advantageous for those casting magic. It’s simply much easier to stand outside of the enemy or boss’ attack range and burn them down, rather than toe-to-toe or spear-to-face. But, it’s all the more reason to play the game in melee range. Another problem I have, one of the biggest, is that combat between two players simply becomes a war of attrition. All smart players will equip themselves with healing items that can be used on the fly in a pinch, and when a player breaks into another player’s game those healing items really drag things out. There’s much more to this game that I haven’t covered, which is because they’re covered almost everywhere else you can find information for this game. If you’re reading this and haven’t played the game yet, do a little more research before you buy or rent!

Overall Score: 9.5/10. The game is perfectly done with few exceptions that only occasionally detract from the overall experience. With that said, this game is definitely not for everybody.

Parents: This game is violent, and allows players to kill their allies and other innocent characters. I’m sure the game is intended for mature audiences.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: There’s nothing that’s necessary to hear that isn’t supported with subtitles. The game does not support voice chat while playing cooperatively, but instead allows you to choose from a list of animated emotes.

Last edited by Lun4tic; 11-02-2009 at 02:16 PM. Reason: Formatting
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