You’d be forgiven for running from the console screaming after your first encounter with From Software’s Demons Souls. After all, the game punishes right from the outset with its hideously ugly range of customisable avatars, bleak tutorial environment and bum-achingly long introductory cut scene.
It doesnt take long before you begin to understand what Demons Souls is all about, however its an immensely challenging action RPG, drenched in foreboding atmosphere and designed to reward skill and perseverance in much the same way as the Ninja Gaiden titles; only with knights and dragons instead of ninjas and women with big breasts.
Lurking within the cliched heap of Dungeons and Dragons themed imagery is as complex and enthralling a videogame as youre likely to encounter all year. In Demons Souls, even the slightest mistake in combat could mean instant death the game therefore encourages delicate, considered progress be made at all times. Keep your wits about you, keep that shield up, hold onto that sword with dear life and you might just make it through to one of the games boss demons. Gulp.
There’s a key concept at work in Demons Souls, and that’s the souls themselves. They’re the lone source of currency in the world of the game, and you gather them by slaying enemies. Die and you lose all the souls you have. Make it back to the point where you died, and you can retrieve them. Die on your way back to the souls you lost, you lose all those souls, forever.
There’s a great selection of immersive and threatening environments to traverse, with an equally memorable selection of enemies and bosses hiding around each corner. The online elements also deserve a mention other players can leave hints for struggling soul hunters, and bloodstains reveal the ways in which others have perished.
It’s the icing on a dark and very moody cake. Demons Souls is certainly not for everyone, but if youre looking for a genuine challenge and are fed up of checkpoints, recharging health bars, remote waggling and the Beatles, youll have found it in this deliciously difficult PS3 exclusive.