"Demon's Souls, an Atlus-published action-RPG out this week on the PS3, is way too hard for you. We say this without knowing a thing about your skills and with no equivocation." Demon's Souls
was released this week in North America, and its reviewers
are coming to terms with its staggering difficulty level."We're not in the business
of reviewing games we don't finish, so I'll say right away that I did not finish Demon's Souls. [...] Because of this, we will not be giving it a review score this week. [...] It's not that I didn't want to finish it. I truly do, and I look forward to doing so. [...] My problem is that I died far too often. You'll see: you will die in minutes."
"[Its] punishment systems
ensure that life has far greater value than in most games, especially as the incessant autosaving ensures restoring from a back-up is impossible. As such, you inch forward, shield up, knees-a-knocking. Demon’s Souls is the antithesis of the fashionable approach to gaming. It encourages mastery over mere perseverance and every reward is so hard won as to make it almost unattainable."
"You may have heard this already
, but let me say this, just to make sure: Demon's Souls is hard. This is not the same kind of hard that comes from too many enemies attacking at once, from having your level too low to fight a boss, or from having too many guards to take out, lest you be seen. This is a game where you may defeat a tough opponent through attrition and pain, winning with nary a sliver of health left before letting out a battle cry and promptly mis-stepping into a pit that kills you."
The game's US publisher is keeping a running total of the number of deaths occurring in the very first area after the tutorial--before the evening of the release day had even begun, the death toll stood at 3,479
. (From that link: "I have a copy of the game in transit and I am kind of terrified. Waiting to receive a copy of the game is like being on death row.")
Demon's Souls is probably best described as an action RPG with roguelike
gameplay elements--however, it marries those elements (along with the uncompromising difficulty of many roguelikes) to graphics and sound design that are characteristic of big-budget, mainstream console games. (Here's an interesting analysis
that focuses primarily on the emotional effect of the game's design decisions). It's considered the spiritual successor to the King's Field series
, also developed by From Software. There are two wikis for it--one
that covers the Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and North American versions of the game, and another
, hosted by Atlus, dedicated specifically to the North American version.
(Previously on MeFi, we discussed the design of difficult games