This is harsh. Evaluate me.
October 22, 2010 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Demon's Souls, an action-RPG from Atlus, is the most notoriously difficult videogame of this generation (previously). If the game was too brutal for you to finish, this should add insult to injury: someone's completed it in just 54 minutes. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

(Spoilers, obviously.)
posted by naju (44 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Atlus! Anytime someone goes, "Oh, J-RPGs are too easy, they're all pushover games that handhold you all the way through" I point them to Atlus games. Shin Megami Tensai games will teach you to expect to die, several times, before you figure out strategies to be a given boss or section. And they're "cheap" only in the sense that they're highly optimized opponents, not cheap like, "and suddenly I have a new form".

(I still haven't finished Nocturne or Digital Devil Saga 2... hmm)
posted by yeloson at 10:28 AM on October 22, 2010


"I didn't even beat Trauma Center."
"Nobody did, it's a fucking Atlus game."

I've heard this game described as the best 3D take on the rougelike genre and have therefore been studiously avoiding it. My video-game-self-esteem is bad enough already.
posted by griphus at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2010


There's also rumors of a spiritual sequel to Demon's Souls in the works.
posted by naju at 10:32 AM on October 22, 2010


Great game or greatest game?

Demon's Souls is a puzzle game and you are rewarded when you take your time and carefully plan your attack. In much of the game world, maybe more than 50%, you could put the controller down unpaused, make a sandwich, come back and find your character unharmed. Enemies do not generally seek you out, they only attack if you enter their area of influence.

Each room or area is a subpuzzle to be completed and once you know the strategy for a room, and the general location and types of "game pieces" within the room, you can successfully complete the room without much concern. Death, as frequent as it is, usually means you need to rethink your strategy and equipment, rather than overcome your own ham handedness.

What's great about this speedrun is that this player succeeds chiefly because he has the correct strategy and equipment for every encounter rather than having superior reflexes or computer assistance.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:45 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I fall in the, "it's not that hard" camp. People who complained lacked patience and/or were looking for some run-of-the-mill hack and slash dungeon crawl. I appreciate Demon's Souls because it rewards you for being cautious. My friends make fun of me for playing video games like a conservative wimp, but for once, I was able to laugh in their faces.

All that being said, I think a speed run goes against the spirit of the game. Though I am seriously impressed. Do you know how hard it is to learn to fight those skeleton knights with the blue eyes? It didn't even occur to me that you could just not fight them.

I couldn't beat Trauma Center, and of this I am deeply ashamed.
posted by giraffe at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


2bucksplus: In much of the game world, maybe more than 50%, you could put the controller down unpaused, make a sandwich, come back and find your character unharmed. Enemies do not generally seek you out, they only attack if you enter their area of influence.

I love the fact that you can't actually pause the game.
posted by giraffe at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


On top of that - Demon's Souls pushed Atlas into the black this year. They posted a profit of $5 million - versus the loss of $1millon last year. Yay.
posted by jaded at 10:52 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


What I love about these speed runs is how they subvert the idea of the game. I've never played Demon Souls and have only watched the first few minutes opf these videos, but I assume the game expects one to fight some of these guys, not just run by them. And, if I'm not mistaken, wasn't rocket jumping created by speed runners to help skip entire rooms of monsters in one of the Doom or UT games?
posted by rtimmel at 10:54 AM on October 22, 2010


I think the Demon's Soulss difficulty is a little overhyped. Yes, it is difficult, but not roguelike-difficult. In a roguelike, death is game over, period. In Demon's Souls, you are actually expected to die. The only time it becomes a massive pain is when you die in a boss fight; on one occasion, I spent almost a week stuck on one boss. Of course, on that basis, a 54 minute playthrough is kind of obscene. I suspect this player has been playing since the game came out nearly a year ago. You can keep "finishing" the game, and each time you play through, the game gets harder.

Great game or greatest game?

Definitely one of the best of this console generation, up there with Red Dead Redemption.
posted by Edgewise at 10:54 AM on October 22, 2010


I suppose the most notoriously difficult game of this generation would depend on whether you mean hardware generation or the generation of gamers, because holy shit, Battletoads.

Although it sounds like Demon's Souls actually rewards you in some way for overcoming its difficulty. Actually you know what, yes, Demon's Souls gets to be the most difficult game of this generation on a technicality, namely that Battletoads is not actually a game so much as some sort of reverse Milgram experiment.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:55 AM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd been thinking of picking this up since the game was given "Greatest Hits" status and thus a price drop last month.

There's also rumors of a spiritual sequel to Demon's Souls in the works.

That's odd considering Demon's Souls itself was a spiritual sequel to the King's Field series of games.
posted by bobo123 at 10:58 AM on October 22, 2010


It's no Dungeon Crawl.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I meant console generation, though I do agree its not as bad as people say. It's a puzzle game, nicely put 2bucksplus. If you want to beat the game badly enough, you can find a way to beat it. It's more dependent on caution and wise choices than reflexes. The stamina bar ensures that rapid button presses will just exhaust your character and have you killed in seconds. So you need to think carefully, yet quickly, about the actions you're going to execute. And every piece of armor and weapon will affect the situation a little bit differently. Are you going to use the huge, ridiculous 2-handed sword? You'll move like a slug if you do, so forget about dodging that skeleton...
posted by naju at 11:01 AM on October 22, 2010


I appreciate Demon's Souls because it rewards you for being cautious. My friends make fun of me for playing video games like a conservative wimp, but for once, I was able to laugh in their faces.

I wish more FPS games were like this. The original Ghost Recon was one of the few games where I felt like crawling around cautiously and avoiding getting shot was actively rewarded.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know nothing about games, but I thought it was pretty hilarious to see the main character simply run past all his adversaries instead of engaging them, leaving them sounding slightly stunned and disappointed.
posted by monospace at 11:17 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


But how good is he at Joust?
posted by Theta States at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


He does make it seem easy - just run past them, dummy! - but I don't think this would work unless you know what you're doing. For one thing, the monsters will continue to chase you throughout the entire level, so you either have to just keep running or face a horde of them. He dodges in all the exact right places too, and has protection spells ready for when he's forced to block. He's wearing light armor so he can run as fast as possible. If he made one mistake, he'd be dead since his health and armor points are so low. And he's also figured out how to run past enemies even in very narrow tunnels and the like. It's like an entirely new and challenging way to play the game.
posted by naju at 11:26 AM on October 22, 2010


I'm pretty sure the speed demos archive has been posted here, but here are a few of my favorites: Baldur's Gate, Morrowind, and Castlevania: SOTN.
posted by cog_nate at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


namely that Battletoads is not actually a game so much as some sort of reverse Milgram experiment.

What? What does Battletoads have to do with prisons?
posted by JHarris at 11:45 AM on October 22, 2010


BTW, if you want a fun time, try to "one-credit" Zelda II. I've done it twice now, and it's still fun. That last dungeon is murderous.
posted by JHarris at 11:48 AM on October 22, 2010


the most notoriously difficult videogame of this generation

What about VVVVVV (previously), which has just been ported to Commodore 64?
posted by straight at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2010


VVVVVV isn't that hard, per se. It has one absurdly difficult challenge, but the rest of it isn't that difficult. Fun as all get-out though.
posted by griphus at 11:56 AM on October 22, 2010


Demon's Souls makes it clear that skill is not just about moving really fast or jumping really high: it's about knowing when to move and when to jump. Gamers have gotten used to "skill" meaning "pressing the button faster than the other guy"; games that emphasized planning over action, like rogue-likes, have gotten comparatively little support over multi-million dollar AAA twitchy shooters. The success of Demon's Souls hints at a way to move beyond the current trend of shoot-fast, die-faster run-and-gun gaming.

People have already mentioned several games that reward strategy over reflexes; another great series based on this is Monster Hunter. It's doing well in Japan, and will hopefully encourage more imitators on both sides of the Pacific.
posted by Maxson at 12:04 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


namely that Battletoads is not actually a game so much as some sort of reverse Milgram experiment.

What? What does Battletoads have to do with prisons?


You're thinking of the Stanford Prison Experiment, by... Zimbardo, I think? The Milgram experiment is the one where authority figures asked random subject to shock other subjects (who were actually actors in collusion with the experimenter).
posted by IjonTichy at 12:14 PM on October 22, 2010


The online component of this game sounds fascinating - walking over random other players' deaths and trying to figure out how to learn from their mistakes. And jumping into random other players' games to kill them and get your own body back. A lot better integrated than "jump into this deathmatch on a map everyone has played 400 times before". Too bad I don't have a PS3.
posted by meowzilla at 12:29 PM on October 22, 2010


I wish more FPS games were like this. The original Ghost Recon was one of the few games where I felt like crawling around cautiously and avoiding getting shot was actively rewarded.
posted by burnmp3s


Thief!
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:31 PM on October 22, 2010


Atlus games can be brutal. I played to the final boss in Persona 4 and, after fighting for like two hours, was defeated by a spell that killed me instantly. And lo and behold, the monster that humbled me so actually turns into another harder monster once you damage it enough.

That said, the challenge is invigorating. Haven't tried the Demon's Souls games.
posted by elder18 at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2010


Like giraffe, I play all games like they're Demon's Souls, cautiously inching around corners and trying to learn each mob before engaging them properly. Demon's Souls rewarded me richly for that playstyle. Whereas Monster Hunter (from which From Software borrowed a lot of the combat mechanics) bent me over its knee and repeatedly whacked me on the backside. And I loved it.

So yeah, Demon's Souls is hard (and great!) but Monster Hunter is, for my money, harder (and also great!). Also Persona 4 is ace.

*sings* I'm a lesbian! Will you let me out?

Massive fucking +1 for the thread title btw.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:51 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't have a PS3, but am fascinated by this game. I hear their next one may come out on Xbox as well... anyone else know about this?

Difficulty is one thing. But what turns me off about Demon's Souls (what I've heardf) is that you get punished for dying, lose progress and the game actually gets harder. That's too much for me.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2010


Atlus, that's a name that says quality gaming.

First time I heard the name was from Snowboard Kids for the Nintendo 64, a bastard child of 1080 Snowboarding and Mario Kart. Weaponized snowboard racing. 4 player split screen. Egos were bruised, controllers were thrown. There has been nothing like it, before or since.
posted by hellojed at 1:19 PM on October 22, 2010


"I’ll tell you what happens in Demon’s Souls when you die. You come back as a ghost with your health capped at half. And when you keep on dying, the alignment of the world turns black and the enemies get harder. That’s right, when you fail in this game, it gets harder. Why? Because fuck you is why."
posted by Rangeboy at 1:20 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


But what turns me off about Demon's Souls (what I've heardf) is that you get punished for dying, lose progress and the game actually gets harder.

It's actually a little more complex than that. Minor spoilers for gameplay mechanics follow, and the US version might have slightly different words for some of these things to the Asian release I played:

Each of the five worlds has a "world tendency", either towards dark or light. As the world gets darker, the enemies get harder; lighter, easier. Some bosses cannot be fought or areas accessed unless you are in full light or full dark tendency. If you play while connected to the internet, the tendency of the worlds is affected by the actions of the broader player base, and occasional developer events may push some worlds to full light or dark.

Worlds are also affected by whether or not you've died: every time you die, the world you are in gets pushed a little towards dark tendency.

But! When you die for the first time, you come back as a sort of corporeal spirit. In this form you have less health but you do a little more damage. You can still fight and explore and finish the worlds in spirit form (it's how I played 90% of the game). The only way you can be restored to body form is to use a particular item, or by defeating a stage boss: they will restore you to life and you can harvest their soul to make or upgrade weapons, or buy spells.

When I played I really wanted to keep my worlds neutral, so whenever I killed a stage boss I went back to the hub world and suicided to go back to spirit form, meaning I could explore to my heart's content without affecting the difficulty, no matter how many times I pratfell off cliffs.

The other consequence of dying is that you lose your souls. You get souls from killing mobs and you spend them back in the hub on levelling up, buying equipment, and so on. You can only lose unspent souls. When you go back into the level you died in (all the mobs reset), if you can make it back to the bloodstain you left without dying again you can collect those souls, but if you die again they're gone forever.

And that's how it works!

The 1.0 version of the game took soul form deaths as being major alterations to world tendency, which is what a lot of the OMG SO HARD I HATE YOU FROM SOFTWARE reviews are referencing. It was patched out, and dying in soul form now has either nil or negligible influence on world tendency. I died looooads on 3.2 and the world never went black.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:25 PM on October 22, 2010


This is one of my favorite games ever. Solo play was fantastic. Fighting off invading players was amazing. But the best was when a stranger and I took out Maneater together on our second playthrough.

The developer said the game was inspired partly by being stranded in a blizzard and getting help from strangers whom he never saw again. He really succeeded in taking that idea and making it into a compelling game.

I hate Maneater.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:27 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens: thanks for the details!

Can you grind at all to level up, or do the enemies not respawn?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2010


And jumping into random other players' games to kill them and get your own body back.

Although when someone appears in your world and whips the shit out of you, that can be a bit frustrating. Like, really fucking frustrating. Especially since every time it has happened to me, the person I've been battling has destroyed my weapons and armor in the battle.

I do love the game, but I can only let myself play it between semesters, so I haven't gotten all that far. It is far too stressful for me when I've got work to do. The grinding to get souls can get a little tedious, and what tends to happen to me is that I'll play, go through a level a bunch of times to build up my souls, then fuck up and get killed. Inevitably, when I go back through, attempting to get to my bloodstain and retrieve my souls, I fuck up almost instantly and get killed, losing all my souls. At that point, my blood pressure rises to dangerous levels, and I have to stop or I'll cry/break something.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:00 PM on October 22, 2010


jeff-o-matic: I haven't played the game a ton, but grinding is an essential part of the game (as far as I can tell), which is the main thing that bothers me about it. You have to repeat the same locations over and over to get souls so that you can eventually get to a new stage. At least, that's been my experience. If there's a smoother way to play, please let me know.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:02 PM on October 22, 2010


This is the one game that makes me wake up at night, shivering, having to convince myself again that choosing Xbox over PS3 was the right decision.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:33 PM on October 22, 2010


Can you grind at all to level up, or do the enemies not respawn?

Yep, if you want to. When you exit and leave a world for any reason -- including death -- everything respawns. But each level costs more than the last, and you always get roughly the same number of souls from a given mob, increasing as the worlds get harder, so you can't just grind 1.1 until you get to soul level 50.

Most things in the game can be defeated either by being really quick on your feet or by levelling a bit and taking a few punches, but most players will probably find a couple of worlds they find they need to grind for.

It's worth it, though, for the atmosphere. To my mind, no game since Silent Hill 2 has captured so perfectly the feeling of descending step by step into the crushing depths of a world that hates you.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:15 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not having a PS3 I can't play, or substantively comment on, this game, but I do want to say that the word "soul" is severely overused in gaming, on the same level as "corruption" and nearly as bad as "darkness."
posted by JHarris at 6:19 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Grinding isn't bad actually. Go to the second section of the world with the giant flying manta ray things. At the very beginning, you can snipe the first grim reaper dude through the hole in the floor (fire bow works really well here). This kills the grim reaper guy and all his glowy minions. Lots of souls in exchange for 5 arrows. Jump down, loot, and then use the evacuate miracle. Rinse, repeat. Usually you can see at least a couple other players doing this at the same time.

The fact that you have to grind is pretty stupid though.
posted by giraffe at 9:47 AM on October 23, 2010


I guess Soul Corruption II: the Darkness, a third-person shooter with light RPG elements, would be the canonical video game right now.
posted by IjonTichy at 10:23 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


At the very beginning, you can snipe the first grim reaper dude through the hole in the floor

When I was ill I did that for the length of two Simpsons episodes on picture in picture.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:21 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone talks about how difficult Demon's Souls is. Not that they're wrong, but when I think of that game I think about how beautiful it is. I love D&D-flavored stuff and never in my life have I seen a game like that that looks so damn good. It's gorgeous! If they ever made an MMORPG that looked like this, I would marry it.
posted by heatvision at 2:02 PM on October 25, 2010


Oh my god yes. Shrine of Storms is such a beautiful expanse, and Tower of Latria is just this gorgeous, hummingly evil sort of place.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:09 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


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