96Imagine, for a moment, that the world as you know it has had a terrible tragedy befall it. Demons, of all things, have spilled into the real world, and most of the people you know have died because of them. With nowhere to hide from these abominations, you do the only thing you can: attempt to survive each day. In present times, that would mean finding some means of defending yourself, like a gun, a place with food (c’mon, you’ve all seen zombie movies)”"during the time that Demon’s Souls takes place in, that means you would need to use a sword, shield, spear, bow, or whatever other medieval weaponry you can get your hands on. That’s the exact situation you find yourself in as well as you start the game”"you have the intentions of being a hero, as you have come to the fallen city of Boletaria to slay demons, but in reality you are just a regular guy or gal with the same kinds of weaknesses a person in the real world would have.

This is a fantasy RPG, but you are not some kind of powered-up super soldier that swings a sword larger than they are to cleave through any foe. Nor are you some kind of dexterous, agile creature that can run and jump without tiring, avoiding the blows of the enemies around you. You’re a regular person with regular weapons and you can (and will) bleed. And you will die. You think that giant axe looks awesome? You’re probably only strong enough to swing it if you use two hands, which means you can’t use a shield. No problem, right? You’re sure to cut through anything in your path with it. Well, assuming you can swing it often anyways”"which you can’t, given its heft and the energy required to swing it once. You power up as you play (more on that later) but you can’t just start off as a force to be reckoned with. You have to earn that through the lessons the game attempts to impart on you, but this learning process is part of what should draw you into the world of Demon’s Souls to begin with.

Action RPG
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: From Software
Oct. 7, 2009

Here’s the story in non-spoiler form: you’ve come to Boletaria to either save the world from the demons or use their power for your own ends, but either way some demons are going to pay. You can pick from a variety of classes, all with their own strengths, weaknesses and strategies for playing. Want to overpower your foes? Become a knight, fully decked out in an armor suit. Maybe you want a bit more movement”"become a soldier with lighter plate armor, but less strength and protection. Maybe you want to attack from a distance with a bow (Hunter) or spells”"that last category has multiple options all its own. You have to approach each situation differently depending on your class, but there’s no wrong answer. You just have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each class”"they will become apparent to you soon enough”"as you progress through the game, or else there will be no progression for you.

You attack with your primary weapon using R1, and utilize strong attacks with R2. You can equip a secondary weapon on the same hand if you want a sword/spear combination or something like that, and in your other hand you can carry a shield or another weapon, like a crossbow, bow or wand for magic. You run by holding down the Circle button, and you can also roll and take a quick step back using the Circle and a direction on the left stick. Items are used with the Square button, and your on-hand items are rotated using down on the directional pad. The controls are easy to use once you get used to where everything is.

Just like many of today’s RPGs, you have to deal with inventory and equip weight; too much on hand means you won’t be able to show off your agile rolling and running effectively, so be mindful of this. Unlike many of today’s RPGs, there is no pause button, so you can’t just hit pause and equip a more powerful weapon or heal yourself while a bad guy tries to lop your head off. Always be prepared is right up there with any other personal rule you can come up with for surviving Demon’s Souls.

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About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at marcnormandin@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin