Demon's Souls

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Game Master
Game Master
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Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:08 am
Custom Title: Dastardly ne'er-do-well in search of a lickspittle
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Location: Ye olde frozen northlands.

Demon's Souls

Post by Wingman »

So, in the last two weeks or so I've probably invested about a hundred hours or so into this game. Overboard, I know, but I needed something to distract me.
I figure that it's time to post my thoughts on this particular game.
It is something of a conundrum, it is quite possibly at once the hardest and easiest game I've ever played, despite all the classes(differing only in starting gear, attributes, and magical powers) playing more or less the exact same there is most definitely a 'right and easy' way to do things. For example, the first boss you encounter is a big ogre type thing and I was playing a knight. I see the boss, raise my shield in a knightly manner, and perform a Ulysses S. Grant cavalry charge at him, sans horses. I figure that I'm a big tough guy, with cool armor and shield, and thus far I've defeated everything with barely a scratch. Splat. You don't get another chance at that particular battle. You can do the rest of the game just fine, but if you want to fight him again you've got to make a new character and go through the tutorial. After doing so a few (dozen) times, I decide to google if it's even possible. Turns out the best method is to get naked and limber and perform some acrobatics, I beat him without getting scratched when I did that. About as unknightly as it gets, and it's the only 'real' way to beat that boss at that time.
Same thing happens when you meet him again, in melee he'll squash you no problem, but with added handicap: he can't move. Yeah, melee boss who's rooted in place. Have bows or spells and stand ten feet away shooting him in the face until he dies. There's really a lot of standing in a safe spot and shooting people in the face, if you're playing the easy way.

It's really the same with all the bosses I've fought so far. There are no heroic battles, you find out what to do, and you do it until they die regardless of what character type you're playing. Chances are that's the only way you can beat them during this particular playthrough since you might lack the one spell that's most effective against them, or the gear and attributes to survive. Once you figure out what to do, the game gets very easy. Enemies are always in the same spots, almost always follow the same attack patterns, and almost always will die from the same tactics. Shoot with bow, switch to shield while they attack, sidestep, chop, chop. Rinse, repeat. Sure, you can spice it up a bit based on what equipment or spells you have, but it seems that all successful(ie, characters that don't go splat every ten minutes) characters are almost all more similar than they are different. Sure, you can do it your own way, if you're lucky and skilled, but you might end up farming for souls(the currency of this game, not really as cool as the name suggests) in order to make it a bit more feasible. I'm playing a squishy character, with the same health as I started with, so I generally have to play the cheap way or even a basic enemy can kill me in a hit or two, but still...

Another thing I'm starting to dislike is how almost all non-boss enemies will respawn every time you load the game, and even if you save right before the boss fight, you'll start back at the lack checkpoint. You`ll keep the items found, and the souls gained, but you`ll have to fight your way through again. Thankfully there`s no long cutscenes that have to be watched, and the game does autosave for you, and when you exit, and provides some items to gradually restore your HP and MP, but it can get damned annoying to possibly spend half an hour getting to the boss, and then go splat on his first attack because you tried to block an attack when you should have dodged. An annoying little fairy would really help here, to say `Look out!`when you`re about to get pulverized by an unblockable attack, and provide information about the boss. Wikipedia is nice and all, but sorta ruins the atmosphere when you have to step back and check the computer.

Another thing: The game does not pause. EVER. If everything freezes, it`s because your Playstation might be about to explode. I found this out the hard way. Start a boss fight, realize my bladder is about to burst, hit the start button and hear my character go splat as I head for the door. Not for the casual gamer, this one. If you`re in a fight, and something comes up outside of the game, you can either finish the fight, die, or maybe escape. Only dying will happen if you drop the controller and grab the phone. Thankfully, the game is very lenient on dying, it expects you to die within the first ten minutes, and even if you don`t, you get crushed by the fist of an angry god fifteen seconds after that. Literally.

That said, I really do like the game. It provides a challenge even when you're gained experience with it, and it most certainly gets the heart pumping when you run across a bridge with a dragon breathing fire down your neck(running towards a group of soldiers, I might add, unless you did the 'smart' thing and got a bow and spent half an hour standing in a safe spot and shooting the dragon in the face until it dies). The array of locations is rather eyecatching, with some excellent visuals and atmosphere. In fact, I've found that the gameplay improves on additional playthroughs, when you have the resources to keep going, rather than turning back to buy more arrows, or waiting for HP/MP to recover. Well, until it becomes routine since you've figured out where every enemy is and the best way to kill them, then you run through and barely break stride unless you make a mistake and probably die.

All in all, Demon's Souls is an excellent hack-n-slash for advanced players, or masochists, with some rather unique elements such as how they blend singleplayer and multiplayer together into a more or less cohesive whole, and the excellent manner in which you can jump to any of the five starting zones for each level right off the bat, and there is very little "You found the item of awesomeness, but you can't use it because you're wearing the wrong color hat" or `You gained the ability that would have made the last half hour be a lot more enjoyable`. There are rather few restricted items like that, there's a few that are gender specific, and a few that have very high requirements, but even my current magician type character can pick up a gigantic sword and start swinging it or put on heavy metal armor and stomp around, and my knight character can put on a wizard's hat and pull out his wand, it's just not what they're best at. I like that, I like it so much. I hate games that stonewall alternate ways to play by outright restricting things. I like combat wizards, I like magical knights. There is no shortage of weapons with which to make things die, and they offer radically different play styles, from iron knuckles to polearms and bows, every play style will have equipment to aid you.
The game does most wholeheartedly support petty vengeance. I`ve derived much joy from going back to difficult enemies and slaughtering them, often my shooting them in the face, or pushing them off ledges, or killing them with a single hit, where I first had to whittle them down a papercut at a time, or hide while they walked past.

However, it is a lonely single player game. It is meant to be enjoyed with company, so that you don't have to spend quite so long standing in corners and shooting things in the face. You can still do that, by all means, but it's no longer quite so forced. If you're looking for a game that rewards devotion, and has lots of things to slice, bash, and blow up, this just might be the game for you. Just beware the repetition, if you're like me, you might very well end up going through an area six times before you move on to the next part. There are some shortcuts, and sometimes you can just sprint past enemies to the boss fight, but it may take half an hour to get there again if you`re being careful.
Quod sumus hoc eritis

Aspirant writer-artist.

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