I’ve been a gamer for about as long as I can remember. My childhood is filled with memories of renting Final Fantasy III and getting as far as I could before returning it, only to rent it a few weeks later, discover my save had been overridden and starting anew. I actually beat that game in the span of a weekend once, after memorizing its ins and outs. I also recall playing Contra on the NES until I could get to the last level without losing a life (those stupid larva things always managed to get me one time).
Despite my years of gaming, I don’t consider myself hardcore in any sense of the word. While I love checking to see what Trophies I’ve achieved (yes, I’m strictly PS3 at this point in my life), I don’t actively seek out every trophy. To be honest, I rarely even finish games these days. Between a full-time job, being a husband, a father and a wanna-be writer, I don’t have a lot of spare time. The only games I’ve really finished this generation are the ones my wife was also interested in. Metal Gear Solid 4, Bioshock 1 and 2, Tomb Raider Underworld, God of War 3…these were all games she liked enough to stay awake enough while I played, offering advice on the puzzles and generally boosting my confidence (or making fun of me when I utterly fail). We’d wait until Natalie fell asleep and, more often than not, she’d be the one to say, “Why don’t you play…?” so we could see more of the game.
Of course, there are a ton of other games she asks me to play so she can get to sleep. Oblivion. Sacred 2. Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Often, I only have to bring up the menu to these games and she’s already yawning. One game in particular stood out to her as especially boring, though: Demon’s Souls.
It also happens to be the only game this gen I’ve beaten without her sitting next to me, urging me on.
Renowned for its difficulty, Demon’s Souls is a bleak, challenging game with one foot in old-school game methodology (memorizing patterns) and the other planted firmly in the future of game design. It boasts a rather impressive on-line element, which I barely touched in my first play through. And it offers a New Game + feature, allowing you to go back through the game at an even more difficult setting. I never made it through the game a second (or third, or fourth, or…) time, mostly because I immediately made a new build and started playing again.
So, why am I mentioning all this? Well, chances are if you’ve read this far, you know the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls is coming out today. Entitled Dark Souls, it boasts many of Demon Soul’s innovations and adds a few new ones of its own. I’ve been following it closely, but hadn’t really gotten the fever to pre-order it until it was too late. After all, I pride myself on having attained my gaming library so cheaply. Thus far, the most expensive game I own was Bioshock 2, which I bought for $30 (I should have waited; you can get it for $15 now).
But all that changes today. I am buying Dark Souls brand new. I don’t think I’ve bought a new game since…Zelda Ocarina of Time. Man, that makes me feel old. I don’t recall regretting that purchase (I loved my special gold cartridge), and I doubt I’ll regret buying Dark Souls. This is a chance to get into the game before all the intricacies have been worked out, when I’m not the only complete noob playing on-line. Sure, those with more time to play will soon run rings around me (and backstab me while they’re at it), but I know I’ll get my money’s worth.
So, for those of you who are gamers and didn’t get a chance to check out Demon’s Souls, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is tough, but the design lends itself more toward elation at achieving your goal vs. frustration when you can’t (at least it did in my experience). Every death is an opportunity to learn and when you finally master a level/boss, you feel very powerful (even if I did have to cheese my way through a few baddies…Thief Ring/bow combo FTW!).
And for you XBoxers, Dark Souls is available for you, now. Many have said Dark Souls will destroy you since you never had the chance to play Demon’s Souls, but I think anybody who gets the flow of these games will take to it just as easily as the PS3 players.
So far, all the reviews are great. 9.0 at IGN, 9.5 at GameSpot and an A on 1up.com. So, do yourself a favor and check it out. Don’t expect a game you can breeze through in a few hours, but don’t let the difficult dissuade you. I only get a few hours here and there to game, and I managed to make it through Demon’s Souls.
It’s a frightening game by design, but I think the scariest thing is I have no idea how I’m going to be able to meet my self-imposed publishing deadlines with this game waiting for me.
BTW, my PSN ID is fractality820 if anyone wants to add me. Happy gaming!