After months of trying the acquire the apparent rocking horse poop that was a PlayStation 5, in mid-February 2021 I managed to get one. And better yet it came with a gorgeously dark game called Demon’s Souls. A PS5 Exclusive Remake of 2009s PS3 game.
Back in 2017 I purchased the exceptionally hard and visually stunning Bloodborne, and despite never getting past a particular blood-stained beast (because I just couldn’t “git good”) I found the game beautiful (in a horrible gothic nightmare sense!). However, with a less naïve glint in my eye I booted up my new alien spaceship of a games console and installed what was self-described as “The Original Brutal Challenge”.
I’m not going to lie, Bloodborne was my only foray into the horrifically challenging and unforgiving world of From Software titles so I figured that Demon’s Souls (as a game that came out over 10 years ago) would be a pleasant adventure for me to ease myself into the notorious series. How wrong I was.
Straight from the offset I was gripped by the beautiful graphics of the intro cinematic, and tutorial wander around what I assume was Boletaria. “This isn’t so bad!” I remember thinking. Simple mechanics of blocking, dodge rolling and mashing square a few times to kill things.
I, to my folly, didn’t get what everyone was going on about with this game and its awful difficulty.
Then the game pulled the proverbial carpet out from under my feet, the Vanguard Demon. A hulking and frankly vulgar mass of horns and teeth that clearly had the notion of using my innards to redecorate the chapel room I found him in. This meeting did not end well, with my poor character being pretty much one shot by said beastie.
After awakening in the Nexus, which has been rebuilt beautifully, I then had it explained to me the premise of the game, kill demons, take their souls, save the kingdom, Simple! Or not… Setting off to the beautifully designed worlds with a juvenile flicker of hope still burning that the game may not be horrifically hard and brutally unforgiving. How foolish I was! From the simple Dregglings to the red-eyed knight, everything wanted me dead, and more often than not got their wish.
However, I persevered, slowly making progress through the first area of World 1, then the next, before hopping over to the second World and taking that on.
Then things took a turn for the worse. As I continued to succumb to mortality again and again more and more scary bright-red enemies began popping up. I now know these were the fearsome ‘Black Phantom’ enemies, pointed out to me in many of the lovely floor messages dotted across the myriad locales of Demon’s Souls.
These were, to be frank, bastards, who preceded to wash the floor with my blood at every opportunity. Not a problem in the third World, the creepy Cthulhu infested prison, as there were only 2 of them and I worked out the importance of cheesing it. A tactic for the astute low-key brave.
A bloody big problem however in the fourth World, aka, Flying crystal-chucking manta ray level. I
met my match when the area just outside the busted castle, literally the start of the area, had 2 of the buggers. I spent hours smashing my head against these two. Before eventually diving into the unending rabbit hole of reddit land to discover my biggest mistake. Being human and not a soul is bad!
My overuse of the items that turned you back human had resulted in the spawning of these angry, bright-red baddies (apparently) and also turned my world state (whatever that was) black. Making the already painfully savage game completely unrelentingly punishing.
Some more exploration found me doing something I’d never considered, outside of rage quitting… starting a completely new save file. Losing the 10+ hours I had already sunk into what was now an invariably doomed run (seeing as my skill was something in the lacking realms). Some people may think me a coward, others may point out that I could have just moved onto the next area (the one with the creepy plague doctor vagrants) but as a complete noob to the joys of Demon’s Souls I wanted to complete it in the ‘suggested’ way.
Nevertheless, my second play through went much better, with much more killing of nasty monsters and, excluding the mandatory ones, no mega hard Black Phantom enemies. All in all, after I had been saved by the hive mind of Reddit, I found Demon’s Souls to be great. Yes, there were points when I almost embedded my controller in the TV screen or wall. Looking at you Old King Level Drain! And mini Balrog!
But I am led to believe that this is what people love about these games, and I must admit I genuinely see why. From the beautiful and oppressive environments, to its bizarre and at times horrific looking enemies (multi-faced human bug things in the Cthulhu prison) it drew me in.
I dare say I understand the love people have of these games now, and I find myself toying with the want to go back and retry Bloodborne.
If you somehow haven't seen, take a look at the trailer for Demon's Souls here.
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