Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware

Demon's Souls: More Friends with Benefits
Company: Atlus

There are RPGs and there are online RPGs. Then there's Demon's Souls, Atlus's upcoming PS3 RPG that blurs the line between the two in a very interesting way.

Demon's Souls is first and foremost an action RPG, filling a major void in the PS3's catalogue. The game takes place in Boletaria, a kingdom surrounded by wall of thick, near-impenetrable fog. Everything trapped inside the fog has turned into a ruined wasteland overrun by legions of undead and demons. As a lone wanderer, you pierce the fog and find yourself traveling the wastes in search of demon souls and... well, what else isn't exactly clear at this time. With the exception of a narrated back-story, much of Demon's Souls plot is left up to the player to decipher. As of this time, I just know I'm looking for souls and I'm out to exact revenge on a large and rather unpleasant demon who killed me, sending me to the game's hub world, a dumping place for souls.

Although Demon's Souls is a single-player experience, you are always online and jacked into the game's servers. As you play through the game, you'll stumble upon blood stains. This is nothing new for games, but here they're more than decoration. You can commune with the bloodstains and watch a ghosted animation of a figure fighting and dying on the spot. Who are these ghosts, you might ask? They're other players. Whenever a player dies in their individual game, their death is recorded and marked on the game servers. When you reach the same area, you can access the log of their death and, hopefully, learn from their misfortunes.

Players can also leave helpful advice or warnings for other players. At one point, I stumbled across a message stating, "Watch for the corner," or something to that effect. Moments later, I entered a room and was ambushed by a skeleton knight hiding in a dark corner near the entrance - eventually leaving my own blood-stained replay on the floor. On my next playthrough, I made sure to heed the warning and even left a rating for the warning. Player warnings are a bit like online user opinions; you'll find several throughout the game, but few are helpful. To curb overpopulation of bogus messages, you can rate player messages. Higher-rated messages will stick around while low-rated ones will eventually drop from the servers.

Demon's Souls' RPG side is just as interesting as the online elements. In a sense, it feels a bit like Bethesda's Oblivion, but with a faster tempo and an action bent. There are 13 classes to choose from, including classics like Warrior, Thief and Wizard, as well as not-so-common ones like Wanderer and Temple Knight. I haven't played with all of the classes, but the three I've checked out so far offer slightly different play experiences and weapon sets. Regardless of your chosen class, Demon's Souls is not a forgiving game. The controls are tight and offer numerous combat styles (two-handed and single-handed sword combat, for example), but enemies are incredibly tough and force you to use every tool in your toolbox.

Demon's Souls is a unique and really cool action-RPG. It fills a need for a system lacking in any sort of RPG and the online play mechanic gives it something just a bit different. As morbid as it may sound, the ability to watch other players die is entertaining and gives the game just a little more of an edge. Look for a full review later this month.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
Related Links:

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.