Release Date: October 6, 2009
Developer: From Software
Metacrtic Score: 89
Tough but Fair. That was what every one had to say about “Demon’s Souls”. After spending nearly 20 hours with the game (longer by far than nearly any other game i’ve played since I started my reviews) I can tell you this: it’s tough, that’s for sure. Fair, on the other hand? Well, i’ll get to that. The real question is: with “Bloodbourn” on the horizon, and two sequels already out (both of witch found it necessary to change the title of “Dark Souls”), is there anything really worth going back to in this game? Lets find out.
In the kingdom of Boletaria King Allant XII has learned how to harness the powers of Souls. This has lead to a golden age for Boletaria. But all good things come to an end. Due to King Allant’s greed, a deep fog surrounds the Kingdom, filling it with monsters and demons. Many hero’s from many Kingdoms have gone in, looking to free the city of it’s curse as well as bring fame and wealth to themselves, but none have returned. You play as one such hero. Your history, class and back story are all up to you, but one thing is certain: there is no guarantee you will fair any better than the others who have gone in before you.
And that’s it. That’s the story. Or at least, that can be all there is too it. In my time with the game there were only two cutscenes that told any back story: one at the beginning and one after you beat the first boss. So depending on who you are what how much it matters too you, the story can be nothing more than a set up for each of the stages you play through. But if you want more, there is more.
Each of the N.P.C.’s you encounter has a “talk” option as well as being able to triad with them (most of the time). This is really were most of the story can be found. Each character feels unique and has their own back story. If you choose to engage with them, there is a lot of lore for you to shift through. But it is all up to you.
This kind of reminds me of games like “Skyrim” or “Fallout 3”. In both those games the real story was your story. They were the story of how your character became this hero that will forever be remembered as well as the story of the world each character lived in. That’s very true here as well. However, I did find it a little bit harder to get invested in the journey as I did those other two, so I can’t say the story is quite on par with them.
This is were the game becomes frustrating, bot to play and to review. See, the game is meant to be hard, and it is. But there are a few things in here that I still felt was simply unfair. However, nearly each of my issues could be seen as the game doing what it was meant to do, be hard.
My first issue was the lock one. Some genius thought it would be a good idea to have the lock on and the “center camera” button the same button. Because of this, I died a lot trying to lock on to an enemy but instead the camera turned around, giving the enemy a nice, open shot at my back. Another issue I have it that the environments can be very, very dark at time. There were time were I think “Silent Hill” had better viability that some area’s here. That’s wouldn’t be too bad, but these area’s are also filled with wholes that lead to an instant death s well. So I ended up dying because I fell in a whole I literally couldn’t see. However, this does help establish the tone and main idea of the game: go slow and think before you act. This isn’t a game you are meant to rush through. So can I complain about these issues? I’m not sure.
An other issue I have is how the game deals with death. When you start i’d say the enemy’s do reflect the idea of “though but fair”. But if you die constantly, the enemy’s get harder. So, after a few deaths that “though but fair” mentality changes to “we’re punishing you for dying”.
My biggest issue I had is that the game just doesn’t explain itself well. It took seven hours and two characters before I learned how to level up my stats. Then, after betting the first boss, I am told that “the monumental awaits [you] above”. It took three hours to find the god damn monumental. In fact, I didn’t find him. I had to go to youtube and watch a “let’s play” in order to find the guy. That is simply poor game design. A game should never force you to look outside of the game in order to understand what the game wants you to do. Then there is also the incredible lack of check points. When you die you have to start the entire level over. So when you right your way to a boss only to die within a few seconds, yup, you get to start the entire level over. While the enemy’s are getting harder.
But with all these flaws I still enjoyed the game a lot. I would end up rage quitting every few hours sure but within a half hour i’d be back at it. And when you do manage to get pass that part that was holding you back or finally killing that boss you couldn’t beat, it really feels like an accomplishment. You know how in most games you get a trophy for beating a level or a boss? And you know how they are almost always pointless? Well, you get those here too, but I felt like I earned each one I got (though now that I think of it, I think I only got 1).
There are other issues to be sure, but those were the big ones. While I do think there were times the game was a little too cheap, I can’t say I hated the experience. In fact, this is another game I wish I could spend more time with. It’s not perfect, but it is damn good.
Game Play: 4/5
Music and Sound:
The sound is a mixed bag. The sounds of swords hitting flesh or shields are all nice, and I could hear an attack from far away and know I needed to dodge, so that’s all good. But the voice acting is just kind of…there. It’s like From Software knew they needed it, so they grabbed whoever was around and had them record the lines. As you could expect, this means the voice acting is a mixed bag. It never unlistenable, but no one seemed to really be taking the material seriously either. And the score is…does the game even have a score? If so it doesn’t leave an impression. The music and sound is as middle of the road as it can get, so it gets a middle of the road score.
Music and Sound: 2.5/5
Overall Score: 2.8/5
Who is this game for:
Do you have a lot of time to kill? Do you like some challenge In your games? Can you assure yourself that you wont through your controller through your T.V.? If you said yes to all three of these, then you should check out “Demon’s Souls”. If you said no to even one of these…play at your own risk.