Everyone knows and loves the Dark Souls trilogy (at least those who stuck through the ass-beating until the end), but among them, not many have played the true first game in the series.
This game is awesome. Sure, some things haven’t aged well, but that’s to be expected. The game came out in 2009 on the PS3. Of course it’s a little rough around the edges. Still, I feel that it’s a classic that deserves to be remembered.
So I’m gonna talk about it.
Demon’s Souls, despite being the origin point of the Souls-Borne franchise (which will soon include Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which looks amazing), is a very different game than it’s successors. For one: this game’s plot isn’t entirely hidden in vague item descriptions and character dialogue. Sure, the fine details require some searching, but the overall narrative is right up in your face.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t akin to a game like Metal Gear Solid, with cutscenes that build the world and characters (and also last forever). Whereas the Dark Souls trilogy only gives you the opening cut-scene before setting you off, Demon’s Souls actually has a series of plot-related cutscenes that you need to watch. There’s the first opening cinematic, the conversation with the sage-lady in the hub, and so forth. It’s more coherent than Dark Souls, but it doesn’t lose the charm of it. It’s a decent story that I can say is a factor in why you should check it out.
Plot aside, this game also has a lot of gameplay elements that would return later in the franchise. For example, the Girl in Black is the first version of the Firekeeper from DS3 or the Doll from Bloodborne, and the Nexus is the first version of the Hunter’s Workshop from Bloodborne or the Firelink Shrine from DS1 and DS3. There are many other factors that make this game historically important to the franchise, but it’d take too long to list them all.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: that’s all well and good, but how’re the bosses? Are they any good? After all, when people think Dark Souls or Bloodborne, it’s often the boss fights that come to mind first. Well, I’m happy to report that the bosses in Demon’s Souls still hold up really well.
To get the duds out of the way, let’s talk about the bad bosses. Phalanx, the first true boss, is a giant sludge monster covered in other sludge monsters that have armor shells. It’s super weak to fire, but to get at it at all, you need to kill his little goons. It’s not even that hard, really; it’s just time consuming and kind of tedious.
Then there’s the Dragon God which, despite having the most bitching name out of any of these bosses, isn’t even really a boss fight. Hope you guys like puzzles, because that’s what this guy is. It’s not even a challenging puzzle; if you slip up and die, then you start over, but it’s pretty easy to avoid doing this. It’s a shame to, because the opening cut-scene hypes this guy up to all hell.
And to wrap up the disappointing bosses, let’s talk about the Adjudicator. This guy is a joke; his attacks are super telegraphed and easy to avoid, and he’s very weak to all varieties of magic. But fear not; if you’re not using a magic build (because you’re not a pussy) you can charge in and hit the meat-cleaver lodged in his side to deal massive damage. The whole fight is kind of a joke.
But you know who’s not a joke? The Old Hero. This guy is bad-ass, super rad looking, and he has a super cool gimmick: the fucker’s blind. Meaning, if you make too much noise (such as running around in a full suit of metal fucking armor) he will immediately find you and kick your ass. It’s super cool, and fairly challenging to boot. I love this boss.
The Tower Knight is also pretty cool. He’s a giant walking suit of armor, and if you strike him it will deal almost no damage. But he does have a weakness: his ankles. You can knock him down by cutting his ankles, then beat the shit out of his head. It’s not hard, but it’s super cool.
Also I beat him with a broken controller that would constantly get my character stuck running against a wall or using my items (on my first try) and I felt like a god damn GOD. So he has a special place in my heart already.
The music is also good, but that’s kind of hard to demonstrate in blog-form. I mean, it’s a Souls game; of course the music is good. That’s like saying the sky is blue.
I do have some issues with it, though. It’s super easy, although tedious, to grind for healing items that’ll last you for the whole game, and frankly: if you don’t, this game’s difficulty skyrockets. It’s also super slow and tedious to level up, as very few of the enemies give you more than 100 Souls. Put simply: this game can be tedious.
Is it more fun than that overall, though? If you enjoy getting your ass beat, then yes.
To summarize: this game is challenging, has good music and bosses (mostly) and is the source of many mechanics that would return later in the franchise. It’s an important piece of FromSoftware’s history, and you should play it if you haven’t already.
Although it does lack a certain kick, now that the servers are dead.