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Demon's Souls

Developer: FromSoftware Publisher: SCE
05 February 2009
Demon's Souls - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.07 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
1,374 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#144 All-time
#6 for 2009
A strange fog has overtaken the kingdom of Boletaria, cutting it off from the world and birthing demons. No one who has ventured into the fog has ever made it back out. But one day, a lone messenger is able to make it through and sends out word that the kingdom needs a hero. You are that hero. You WILL die. As a spirit, you must fight demons, monsters, and even the corrupted people of Boletaria to reclaim your body and wipe them all out. No human could possibly stand up to such incredible evils, so you'll have to become a little less human and bond the souls of demons to yourself to take their power. Boletaria has been split into five separate realms and in each of these locations, there are hundreds of creatures that want you dead as well as a few greater demons that can easily make that a reality. Pick up a sword, wand, or your faith and get ready to have your head crushed. It's a difficult and painful journey, but there are few more rewarding.
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Releases 8
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2009 From SCE  
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JP 4 948872 730228 BCJS-30022
2009 From SCE  
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XAS 4 948872 960717 BCAS-20071
2009 From Atlus  
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XNA 7 30865 00132 3 BLUS-30443
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Demon's Souls Black Phantom Edition
2010 From Bandai Namco  
Blu-ray
3 546430 149225
2010 From Bandai Namco  
Blu-ray
FR 3 546430 149393 BLES-00932
2010 From Bandai Namco  
Blu-ray
DE 3 546430 149409 BLES-00932
Demon's Souls Greatest Hits
2010 From Atlus  
Blu-ray
US 7 30865 00132 3 BLUS-30443GH
2013 From Bandai Namco  
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Title
The People's Souls game
You know what really upsets me.

I went apeshit over Dark Souls when it came out and I was constantly told by fans of it, that there was no reason to ever go back and play demon souls because "Dark Souls did everything Demon Souls tried doing, but better." Boy were they all fucking wrong. As someone who enjoys the souls games a great deal, this may just be my favorite. Not only does it still look and run pretty incredibly even in 2019 standards. This game fucking rules, easily some of my favorite monster design in the entire series, I loved getting away from the interconnected world and just hopping from world to world and the great feeling of getting an item from a soul and instantly being excited to return to a level because I knew I finally had what I was missing to complete a level. I love the atmosphere of every world, and from the 1-1 to 5-3 there wasn't a minute I wasn't loving every minute of this game. It's a shame it's ranked so much lower than the other entries because wow, is this not one of if not the best games of all time.
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At first the "ooo big spooky evil curse upon a high fantasy medieval kingdom" story may not seem that appealing. At first the "oh, the first 'Soulsborne' game, with cunklier and more awkward game mechanics and movement" gameplay may not seem that appealing either. Let alone the early, medium-budget PS3 graphics. But Demon's Souls is a very interesting work in videogame history and definitely worth playing at least once.

There is, a big spooky evil curse upon a high fantasy medieval kingdom. An ancient unfathomable eldritch monster, that should be taking a nap, woke up (or was awakened through occult arts) and started sucking the soul out of everything and everyone, which is bad because it will lead everything into nothingness. You are a heroic hero who dared try to defeat this big spooky evil god/demon but you fucking die right at the beginning. But don't worry, you come back as a ghost. A ghost that can die. And, under certain circumstances, you can become a flesh-and-bone human again, but you will most likely die again, and come back as a ghost. And die then you die again. By now, the "when you die in the game, you canonically die, but there's a lore reason why you kind of come back to life" thing is a standard in From Software's games and is present in countless other games, but by 2009 it was still pretty weird and uncommon.

After the tutorial kills you and you're a silly ghost now, some eerie woman tells you have a mission to do: save this cursed world where soulless beings suck the soul out of the beings who still have their soul. Then another ghost, implied to have been through and told the same things as you, makes fun of you for thinking your capable of accomplishing this mission and warns you you're being used and manipulated. After that, you go into the first level/world where you begin to play the game for real. By now, 2024, if you're here you probably already have an idea of how a "Soulslike" game plays. After defeating your first real boss, the RPG stats (and therefore builds) aspects are presented to you and from then on you can go from the central hub/overworld into different levels/worlds a la Super Mario 64.

As others have said before me, the atmosphere in this game is one of the most remarkable aspects. The hub/overworld called the Nexus, already has a notoriously ethereal atmosphere that makes it stand out; then, when you're transpored to each of the playable worlds, they may seem pretty common at first, but as you wander deeper and deeper into them they get weirder and weirder. Specially towards the end of the game, everything starts to feel like a convoluted fever dream or even a psychedelic spiritual vision. This game isn't focused just on being a fun emotion (which it is, for the most part), but it aims and succeeds at provoking other deeper emotions in you, the player. I won't go into details of the story but I felt strong sadness, commotion, confusion, regret, fear

The online aspect, which includes co-op summoning, PvP invasions, messages written on the floor, and sometimes seeing brief apparitions of other players currently playing in the same zone of the game; it is pretty similar to From's newer and much more popular game Elden Ring as it is to other FromSoft games from the 2010s. Here, in Demon's Souls there are some highlights to be mentioned regarding the online aspects; for example: The Old Monk, the final boss of The "Tower of Latria" level (which is considered by many to be the most visually stunning and atmospheric level in the game), used to be (and is, frequently, in the PS5 remake) actually another player. A main and important boss of the campaign is actually another player just like you, I love it..

There's other aspects of the game that don't just "feel outdated", but actually were even badly executed even for its time, which is likely part of the reasons why this game didn't get that popular before the success of Dark Souls drawed more attention to it.

Yes, this game is hard. But not really in the way that some of the more famous following FromSoft games are hard. Those games are often said to be "hard but fair, if you die it's your fault because you didn't pay attention/didn't learn from your mistakes", this one is frequently hard in unfair ways. In several places you're sure to die several times in your first playthroughs because nothing was shown to you to warn you of what was coming, and hell, dying here is much much more punishing than in the following Soulslike games in FromSoft's catalogue.
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unbelievable atmosphere, fun and diverse bosses, the original classic
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yoitu 2023-10-04T13:07:17Z
2023-10-04T13:07:17Z
›95%
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I've wondered for a while now why Asian (Japanese in particular) media seems to understand the west better than ourselves. In my view Demons Souls is an imagination of Europe, weeping, nostalgic and broken. The kings have disappeared and a deep fog encroaches upon the land. As the Soldier sent into the mist your quest is to lure the old one back to slumber to defeat the demons who consume humans souls. One of the main ideas of the story is to avoid becoming a demon yourself, as the journey has you face many moral dillemas along the way. It's a realisation of the corruption of old orders and the loss of religion and it's consequences. The world lacks any moral code and is an inversion of the ideas of honor, chivalry and christianity which is standard in the common view of medieval Europe. You are sent on a traditional knights quest to save the land but there is no authority to guide you, the moral path you choose is up to you and it's meanings for the world is laid bare.
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calt 2021-12-23T14:27:33Z
2021-12-23T14:27:33Z
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King's Field 2 and The Ancient City have to be the most important titles in From Software's history, because they were a landmark on... basically everything they stood out for, mostly in terms of level design and narrative. The plot of these games was actually pretty simple on paper. What it made them so different is they were disjointed, especially for The Ancient City. You really had to dig a lot to unravel the full story, filled with medievalistic romance and family drama. At the same time, they were dreamy, atmospheric experiences. KFII and KFIV felt like fever dreams as you explore them more and more, bringing a palpable feeling of postmodern hysteria.

I'm sure most of you know about the Miyazaki legendary comment about how he read english books without understanding them for shit. Well, I won't deny that's probably true, but he constructed a wildly exaggerated mythology around that bit of trivia. Hidetaka declared to interviewers Naotoshi Jin's work was pretty influential for him, as King's Field is one of his favorite franchises of all-time. By looking at Demon's Souls primal design philosophies, it's clear it's both an artistic departure and an honorific work.

One of the arguments people make against Demon's Souls is about its lore, that it's too loose and players really need to fill up stuff with their mind, because a lot about the game is hidden and unknown. Just like I said in my Bloodborne snippet, only that game and Demon's Souls share this style of writing. You can trace the plot as a simple story with simple characters, just with a lot whole of nothing in-between, and I argue that's exactly the point. Considering how phantasm and gloomy the world is and the wildly different settings between the five cursed lands, no wonder why everything's so loosely stringed. In Dark Souls, while the lore is a lot more structured and understandable, almost everything has an explanation, or can be constructed back by really squinting your eyes.

Demon's Souls holds nothing for you in that regard, and that's awesome in its own right - hell, I prefer it. How did Valley of Defilement exactly formed? What's the Old One? Does it have a motif? ...Does it need a motif? What are the undertones of Astraea getting around a whole pool of unwanted children? Why is the Old One supposedly looking to end our suffering... The suffering of whom? Why was the Old Monk exiled? Why does the Old Monk need a giant chained heart? The Nexus' existence? The false king? The endings? So, so much you can't explain easily because there's no lore to back it up perfectly. And the most interesting thing is: the story itself leans more easily than Dark Souls! This is actual environmental storytelling - you really have to take you back to the whole Demon's universe and take an holistic view to understand it.

Just damaged by the non-inclusion of the sixth world -which would've probably explained a lot more... or not- , the fact World Tendency is underdeveloped and it loses points for the next games having more options. Demon's Souls is a special work of art. So humble, so experimental, so limited but so creative at the same time. The HUB World unifying all realms is quite fantastic as it's a truly open-ended game with five ways of actually starting the journey. It works more like a puzzle too, using the right ring in the right situation, bosses with a gimmick that made them both easy yet compelling considering how tough the road to them can get -the boss rush element was a lot more contained- and loads of stones to try.

Weird effects, strange mechanics, hidden secrets within the same worlds, World Tendency affected by other players... it brings so much joy and sorrow. And it doesn't overstate its welcome, with no real weak parts of the game, something you can't really say about Dark Souls. It's basically the most important game of the generation, and it released months before the end of the 2000s. Unless you put more attention to the boss challenge aspect of the games rather than the whole package, Demon's Souls is magical and the most sincere title Miyazaki has ever worked with.
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Mur96 2021-06-28T16:00:57Z
2021-06-28T16:00:57Z
4.5
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An ambitious, innovative, wonky RPG powerhouse
Demon's Souls is an incidental masterpiece - I doubt even FromSoft themselves would've foreseen how far this game would take them as a company. With the SoulsBorne series among the most famous in the world, having redefined a generation of action-RPGs and raised the genre standards to an impossible high, it's interesting to take a look back to the progenitor and see just how much of the winning formula they managed to put together in the first go. Demon's Souls was my first Souls game, and one I still hold dear to heart in its design and execution. Not only does DeS hold up against the later entries in the series, it was such a stark contrast to its peers at the time that I would find it hard pressed to call it anything other than one of the most innovative video games of all time, and one of the most successful experiments of the 7th console generation.

Demon's Souls is all about souls. Probably obvious from the name, but it's the fundamental mechanical base of the experience, and later the series as a whole. Although you start the game as a human, upon death your character's soul is bound to a mystical hub called the Nexus, allowing you to regenerate in a weakened soul form indefinitely on your quest to destroy the five archdemons and return the Old One back to slumber. Along the way you'll fight monsters formed from the souls of men lost to the fog, reclaiming the souls as currency as you strike them down. The souls work as both money for equipment and services and to level up your character, forcing a healthy balance of spendature. Finally, in one of the boldest mechanical concepts in the game, the souls you've accumulated are lost upon death, and you're only given one run to reclaim them in the spot where you died. This one change dramatically changes how the game is played, encouraging a careful, defensive playstyle in order to protect your progress. Your adventuring is well rewarded but the risk is always present, and the game deserves credit for presenting such tangible stakes in a market where games were progressively dumbing down.

For an exclusively Japanese dev team, Demon's Souls is a very Western-styled game. Its visual inspirations lie in traditional European fantasy, and it takes a more realistic approach to the art direction, discarding bright-haired protagonists and animation tropes of the time. The combat is exclusively in real-time and feels like an actual fight, with swords and shields, parries and dodges. The variety of weaponry is strong and caters to just about every playstyle one can imagine. There is a real heft to the progressive armor levels, and it impacts your movement speed and agility in combat as well as your defense. These sorts of considerations add up to a very immersive experience, whereby the player feels physically invested into the world before them.

The visual style, although not always a technical achievement, holds up as a sort of final frontier for the abstract, dream-like games from the PS2 era. The environment, while dark and gloomy, contains many sources of fog and dim light, which feels ethereal and otherworldly. This haze, along with the detailed sound design and sparse music, serves to both amplify tension during dangerous exploration and comfort when back in familiar places. A similar effect was used to great success in the first two Silent Hill games, and I think it's implemented well here. The stages where you'll spend most of your time in the game are horrible places, filled to the brim with secrets, collectables, and monsters, and the intense difficulty and punishment for death needed to be blunted somehow to not demoralize the player. By creating moments of comfort and relief upon a successful run, the player is always rewarded by returning to safety.

The stages themselves are the crown jewel of the whole experience, with inspired level design on a technical level, and interesting art direction that characterize the locales. The general design philosophy is to show the exit near the beginning of the stage, but with some kind of blockage that prevents progress. As you explore, you'll unlock shortcuts that allow you to get back up to your most recent location more quickly upon death, and eventually open the way toward the boss of the area. The shortcuts are ingenious, as they don't require the stages to be trials of attrition before confronting the player with a difficult boss fight, and they end up splitting the stage into a longer, exploratory path, and a shorter one that leads to the final boss

Each area has its own bit of lore that connects in interesting ways to one another, to characters in the Nexus and abroad, and to the main arc of King Allant and his awakening of the Old One.

In all it is a remarkably bleak experience, content to let the player wallow in its intense misery and embrace the dying world before them.
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the_lockpick 2017-12-31T05:31:14Z
2017-12-31T05:31:14Z
4.0
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NzArs Demon's Souls 2024-06-21T08:08:29Z
2024-06-21T08:08:29Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Brusibrusi Demon's Souls 2024-06-18T20:07:27Z
2024-06-18T20:07:27Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CrystalLightning Demon's Souls 2024-06-18T18:28:58Z
2024-06-18T18:28:58Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Ghorkinn Demon's Souls 2024-06-16T01:11:16Z
2024-06-16T01:11:16Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
nathangraves Demon's Souls 2024-06-11T17:14:40Z
2024-06-11T17:14:40Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Jcoley19 Demon's Souls 2024-06-07T20:16:26Z
2024-06-07T20:16:26Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
9whatever Demon's Souls 2024-06-06T17:11:21Z
2024-06-06T17:11:21Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
AzeXiR Demon's Souls 2024-06-04T19:38:45Z
2024-06-04T19:38:45Z
8.3 /10
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
emulated 2009
TwoV Demon's Souls 2024-06-01T08:56:40Z
2024-06-01T08:56:40Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
TheChomper Demon's Souls 2024-06-01T05:55:12Z
2024-06-01T05:55:12Z
5.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mechanicalhearts Demon's Souls 2024-05-28T16:51:06Z
2024-05-28T16:51:06Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
FullyOttoMatic Demon's Souls 2024-05-28T05:51:23Z
2024-05-28T05:51:23Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
CERO: D
Media
1x Blu-ray
Multiplayer options
Online
Franchises

Comments

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  • Previous comments (106) Loading...
  • Drizoen 2024-05-20 10:33:07.969338+00
    I effing love everything abut the Maiden Astraea confrontation. Just incredible. The music from when you step into the room. The various ways you can take on the fight. The dialogue. I even like the various truths/rumors we know about the character within the world before taking on the boss fight. That was my moment where I went, "this game is going to stay on my mind forever."
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  • mattbc 2024-05-25 04:05:17.628249+00
    if anyone's curious what the broken statue world was, look at painted world in ds1, they took the lost content from the 6th world and used it there.
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    • ThrashingFairy 2024-05-25 15:56:48.526203+00
      Also they reused the yeti creature in ER's snow area too.
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  • hopperVincent 2024-05-27 09:56:40.631248+00
    guys, dark souls is better, stop being pretentious saying that this is the best souls (gameplay wise)
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    • babyclav 2024-06-06 18:49:45.243277+00
      I would contend world tendency as a flaw and I dont really see the bosses as significantly worse, theres certainly not a boss as bad as Bed of Chaos or Capra Demon
    • Jodas 2024-06-11 10:12:36.776082+00
      I don't think it's better, but its arcade-like nature makes the experience just pure unadultered fun. It feels like a Super Mario game. Maybe I have this feeling because I played it after beating most FromSouls games (all but DS2 and Elden Ring at that moment) and I breezed through it in 15 hours.
    • Jodas 2024-06-11 10:13:22.752151+00
      And I loved the gimmicky bosses, they just add an extra layer of puzzle-fights very reminiscent of early 3D Action-Adventure games.
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  • INoLuv 2024-06-07 04:20:15.262662+00
    I played only the remake and found it underwhelming (because of the levels being lackluster). Seems like the original is way better regarding atmosphere and aesthetic but with even worse gameplay mechanics (item management). Somehow i feel i would still like demon souls more if i played the original.
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  • mattbc 2024-06-07 08:21:22.962935+00
    also DeS having a difficult NG+ is so refreshing after ER's NG+ being such an absolute walkover
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