: Playstation 3
: Japan - Februrary 5th 2009, China & Korea - February 24th 2009
: Action RPG
: CERO Rating is a C17, ESRB Equivalent is M (Mature), ELSPA Equivalent is 15+, PEGI Equivalent is 16+
: English Voice, Japanese Text/Subtitles
: English Voice, Korean Text/Subtitles
: English Voice, Chinese + English Text/Subtitles
? It's rumored that they have no plans of bringing the game to Europe or the US, but if you import the Chinese version of the game (often referred to as the "Asian" version) it comes with FULL English support and even though the Manual supplied with the game is in Chinese it comes with a fold out sheet (roughly the size of a small poster) that has all the relevant information that you need to know to play the game written in English. The PS3 also happens to be Region Free so you wont have to do any finagling to get the game to work on your system, just pop it in and have fun.
English Instruction sheet:
Unless you can read Japanese or Korean make absolutely sure you get your hands on the Chinese ("Asian") version of the game:
"The king of Boletaria has achieved his ambition of a prosperous kingdom by tampering with powers that are beyond the scope of human control. The prosperity of his country, however, did not last and the old king's ambitions force him to succumb to the forces of evil. The power that he conjured has enveloped the kingdom in fog, unleashing hordes of demons that devour the souls of the living.
Accompany your hero and search for a way to rid the land of its monsters. Remember, many who have ventured into the fog have never returned. Will you be the one to save Boletaria?
The character creation process in Demon's Soul can be insanely extensive, or obnoxiously simple depending on how you want to do it. If you're the type of person who enjoys the Oblivion style character creation process then you'll probably have an orgasm when you see the amount of sliders they throw at you in this game, I dare not count how many but I know it beats out any game I've ever played before (including Oblivion).
When you first enter character creation it asks you to enter a character name, choose your gender and choose a starting class (I will go into more detail on classes later). After that if you like the way your default character looks you can just jump right into the game if you see fit to do so or you can continue on to the "Face Edit" screen.
There are 2 Face Edit screens for you to mess around with, the simplified version that you see when you first enter Face Edit, and then the "OMG! WTF! That's way to many damn sliders!" complex version. The simplified version has an option for you to choose where you hail from, more specifically are you from the East (Asian), South (African), West (Caucasian/European) or North (although it's wierd they would come from the North but this one looks mostly Hispanic to me). After that there is an Age slider for you to mess around with, the skin doesn't wrinkle or anything though so I found that moving the slider to far beyond middle aged would just make you more and more ugly. ^_^; Then there is the endlessly entertaining Gender slider, yes you read that correctly, after you've already chosen to be a Male or Female they give you a gender slider
, or what my friends and I like to call the "Squenix" slider, so you can make some butch chicks or pansy men if that's your thing. =P They also have a Random button in this section that will blindly choose settings for you in the "advanced" Face Edit section. I found it much easier to hit random a few a times till I got something that appealed to me, then mess with the Age and Gender sliders a bit if necessary and do minor touch ups in the Advanced section. This made the character creation process significantly less daunting and it went by much quicker. XD
This brings us to the Classes you have to choose from, but before I get into details on the classes I have to make something perfectly clear about Demon's Souls. In this game the Developers took a completely hands off approach when it comes to character development, with that being said the classes that you have to choose from at the start of the game are nothing more then a starting point to get things kicked off for you. All stats/spells/abilities/etc. in the game are decided by you the player, absolutely nothing
is set in stone by what class you choose at the beginning. For example, lets say you decide to be a Knight, the Knight is your typical heavily armored Sword 'n Board meat shield type character who wouldn't know the first thing about spells or have any efficiency at dodging attacks. But there is nothing at all keeping you on this path, by the end of the game you could be throwing around nukes while at the same time beating face with dual Katanas and still be adorned in your heavy ass armor if that's what you want to do. You don't have to be restrained by the 10 classes given to you at character creation, it's more important to think about what direction you would ultimately like to take your character and then find the class that closest fits that description and use it as a starting point. You can do whatever the hell you want, which is one of the greatest things about this game. =)
Now with that out of the way, onto the starting classes!
Starting Equipment: Long Sword, Mail Breaker (long pointy Dagger), Kite Shield, Fluted Armor
Very well rounded starting stat line, even in the mental department, able to pretty much go in any direction rather easily with minimal work required.
Starting Equipment: Mace, Heater Shield, Talisman of the Gods (used to cast spells) and Chain Mail
A starting stat line very much designed for a tough as nails front line healer, the Priest is very capable in a fight with the added advantage of being able to heal effectively.
Starting Equipment: Dagger, Buckler, Short Bow, Assassin's Hood, Black Leather Armour
I fairly nice starting stat line with extremely high Dexterity and Willpower as well is really high amount of Luck (go go drop rates!)
Starting Equipment: Short Sword, Leather Shield, Wooden Catalyst (used for casting spells) and Cloth for armor
Obviously starts off with the highest Magic capabilities but surprisingly has a very respectable stat line for being a Thief-esque character as well
Starting Equipment: Halberd, Hearer Shield, Talisman of God (used to cast spells), Mirdan Armor
Strong as an Ox and tough as nails, and fairly respectable Faith score to boot so he starts off with some respectable healing capabilities, although he's lacking in the Mana department.
Starting Equipment: Broad Sword, Short Spear, Soldier's Shield, Plate Armour
Extremely well rounded melee character, similar to the Knight in that respect but where the Knight also has respectable intellect scores the Soldier only consentrates on his physical stats, making him slightly better off then the Knight in melee combat statistically speaking.
Starting Equipment: Falchion, Dagger, Wooden Shield, Leather Armour
A hybrid of the Thief class with higher physical stats but lower intellect.
Starting Equipment: 2 Wooden Clubs, Wooden Shield (starts off naked =P)
Has the highest starting Strength and the highest starting Vitality and the second highest Endurance, this guy is a melee Monster out of the gate but has absolutely no armor to help absorb the damage, so while he's got a lot of health it will be cut through rather quickly.
Starting Equipment: Rapier, Silver Catalyst (spell casting), Buckler, Silver Coronet, Cloth Armour, Fragrant Ring (constantly regenerates mana)
Take a thief and exchange his luck with the ability to nuke, quite effectively at that. The Royal does best when he can concentrate on a single target at a time, has a difficult time with mobs. Overall a very easy class to start with though.
Starting Equipment: Long Bow, Battle Axe (Yah, I thought it was kinda weird too XD), Leather Shield, Leather Armor
For a "ranged" class the Hunter has a very good stat line for brute force oriented melee combat while still maintaining his agility, another nice well rounded class if you're not planning on casting spells.
I felt that equipment deserved it's own section just so I could emphasize exactly how open ended they left the character development in Demon's Souls. You have absolutely no restrictions
placed on what you can ultimately equip and where you want to equip it. Now just so we're clear on what I'm talking about let me give you a few examples of things you could do if you felt like it. =)
- You can dual wield Shields and just shield bash the hell out everything
- You can wield a single shield with both hands like it were some kind of great weapon, also if you block while doing this your character will actually duck behind the shield covering almost all of their body. (talk about a tank eh? =P)
- You can dual wield Harry Potter-esque wands for some spell casting entertainment or grip one in both hands for a true "beat stick". =P
- Once you're strong enough to do so you can wield great weapons (such as Bastard Swords, Great Axes, Scythes, etc.) in one hand and combine them with a shield or even dual wield them if you like.
- You can mix and mach any weapon with any other weapon, one of my personal favorite combos being the Long Sword combined with a Spear.
As you can see, with your character's development and equipment selection being entirely
in your hands will allow for some insanely unique characters to be made. =)
The way the game actually plays fits the bill for an Action RPG exactly! While you have stats to increase and skills to acquire and all that other jazz that makes an RPG an RPG, the game itself is %100 based off of the players skill. There's no % chance to evade/hit or any of that other typical RPG flair, you have to do all of that shit yourself. If it looks like you were hit then you were hit, if looks like you blocked then you blocked, if it looks like you connected with that arrow then you just made someone very unhappy. This is very much a game of skill and boy does it require a lot of it, Demon's Souls is no push over, it's a very difficult game, but as most things that are difficult it's also very rewarding. =)
One of the most important things to note about the way it plays though is the fact that it uses a Stamina system. With the exception of the walking/jogging, holding up a guard, and using items every action you make will take a chip out of your Stamina bar. Exactly how much is taken out is usually the result of a multitude of factors, for example whenever you run/dodge they take into account your Endurance/Dexterity score and how much you're carrying compared to what your maximum capacity is. Pretty much every action has more then one thing to account for how much Stamina is used, including parrying, blocking and of course attacking. And you'll find out pretty fast that you can burn through your Stamina bar quite quickly, thankfully though if you can get into a position where you don't have to hold a guard up (while guarding doesn't take Stamina it does slow the regen rate) your Stamina bar will regen very very quickly. So when you're up against a formidable foe you'll often have to try and find a way to take a break for a breather before heading back in for the slug fest, this very much gives the "dance of death" kind of feel to the more epic confrontations.
They also have an entertaining death penalty in the game, if you manage to get yourself killed while venturing around in the land of Baletoria (which will happen... quite often at first ^_^) you will become a spirit representation of your self. While you're in this spirit form your characters maximum HP is halved at all times! There is a ring that you can find fairly early on in the game that will boost that %50 up to %75 (no affect if you're alive), but it will take up one of your 2 ring slots... The only way to regain your body and become alive again is to hunt down and slay one of the many Greater Demons that now seem to be roaming the land... which is no easy task especially when you're trying to do so with a portion of your health available to you. But once you manage to fell one of these giant beasts you will not only reap the quite hefty rewards for doing so but you'll also now be alive! =D If you slay a Greater Demon while you're already alive you'll be gifted with a stone that can be used (1 use only) to return you to life the next time you do happen to die. =P Whether your alive or a spirit though whenever you die a bloodstain will be left at the exact location of your death and ALL of the souls that you've collected (basically currency) will be dropped at that location. Every time you die you also get put back at the beginning of the area, any doors you've opened and items you've collected will thankfully remain though, and all of the enemies (save for any Greater Demons) will respawn which means you'll have to fight your way back to where you died to recollect all the souls that you had lost. I thought it was a fairly unique way to make you "fear" death.
Overall though, if I had to compare Demon's Souls to any other game I would probably have to say it's a combination of Monster Hunter and Elder Scrolls, just faster passed then both.
This is actually where most of the complaints will probably be had for the game, you're definitely not gonna be doing much in the ways of "exploring the world" in Demon's Souls, there is a distinct lack of an open world. The game is broken up into specific levels with various paths for you to follow and while there is always more then one way to achieve any particular goal in the game you'll rarely stray from the beaten path. With that out of the way the Developers definitely weren't lazy, they did a great job with the level design. Every single door, gate, bridge, etc. can be opened/crossed and there will pretty much always be something to find for doing so. Sometimes you'll be able to just open it up, sometimes you may have to find an alternate route, sometimes you might have to use force or even the environment itself but basically every obstacle that is in your way (whether it's required of you or not) can be passed through some means. This definitely helps make the Castle for example feel more like an actual Castle and less like some linear path. Often times you'll be confronted by "mini-bosses" of sorts that provide some intense fights but also come hand in hand with a hefty reward.
Demon's Souls has by far one of the more entertaining ways to do an online mode for any game I've ever heard of. It's like they're trying to give it an MMO-esqu feel without making it an MMO... and it works! Basically when you start up your game you tell it whether you want to play in Online mode or Offline mode, and I HIGHLY suggest you play the game in online mode cause if you don't (even if you plan on just playing through the game solo) you're so missing out on a huge part of the game! =)
The first thing to cover for Online mode is the "Twitter" messages that can be left on the ground for other players. Twitter messages are basically little red symbols that appear on the ground that you can click on to hopefully get some helpful information out of. Now as long as you're Online you can leave a Twitter message on the ground in your game and it will automatically be passed along to everyone else who is currently playing the game in Online mode. Other players are then allowed to give it a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down so if you just start leaving random crap it will probably dissipate rather quickly, but if your message keeps getting good responses it could stay there for quite a long time, and if you get enough good responses whenever you yourself click on the symbol it will heal you! =) So they definitely encourage you to be helpful with your Twitter messages.
Another nifty feature to online mode is the ability to see where other people have died. If you remember from back in the Gameplay section I mentioned that whenever you die a blood stain is left at the location of your death, well if you're playing in Online mode you can see other peoples bloodstains as well! So if you walk into a room and it's completely covered in blood... well shit is probably gonna hit the fan at some point in that room! XD If you click on a bloodstain left by another player a red phantom will spawn at that location and show you the last 5 seconds-ish of that persons life, showing you how they died. Could be a rather useful tool when you're new to an area.
Next up is Co-Operative mode, towards the beginning of the game (after you kill your first Greater Demon) you're rewarded with a "Blue Eye Stone." You can use this stone to leave a blue Twitter like mark on the ground that other players will now see in their game as long as you're online. Those players will then be able to click on the mark and view your Online stats and how other players have ranked you, at which point they may invite you to join their game. In order to invite someone to join your game you have to be alive, you can't do it while you're a spirit and when they join your game they will do so as spirits and will therefore take the penalty to their health. Once you have people in your game they will stay until you manage to defeat one of the Greater Demons, at which point the Co-Op mode will come to an end and all the players involved will be allowed to rank each other depending on how the game went. Just as a note any Greater Demons that are defeated during Co-Op play only count for the person hosting the game, the people who joined as spirits will still need to defeat said Greater Demon in their own games if they haven't done so yet.
Co-op gameplay vid
(from the perspective of one of the Spirits)
You may notice in the video that there are a bunch of Ghost like apparitions running around, well those are other players who happen to be playing at the time. =) So even though they may have no direct affect on your game specifically you can still run into other players as you're doing your thing. ^_^
Lastly we have PvP!
Eventually you'll obtain something called the "Black Eye Stone," which has a distinctively different purpose then the Blue Eye Stone. ^_^ The Black Eye Stone can be used to invade someone elses game and take the place of the Greater Demon for that level. You'll spawn as a Black Spirit and you start off in the room where the Greater Demon resides for that level, but you're allowed to leave said room and actually go and stalk your target! =) I've yet to actually do this so I'm unsure if the Host player is aware that you're there or not (or even if he has to accept it first), but either way it sounds like it could provide some highly entertaining situations.