It’s a game I’ve been putting off playing since the day I got my PS3, but one I’ve been told is essential if I’m trying to get through all the best Sony exclusives, which is the purpose of this ongoing series.
Demon’s Souls’ difficulty is supposedly the stuff of legend, and I fully expected that with my short temper when it comes to particularly challenging titles, I probably wouldn’t make it through the whole thing. What I did not expect was how far I was actually able to make it before I quit.
That’s right, level one.
Before you protest, let me stop you right there. This isn’t an actual review of the game in the traditional sense. No matter how much I personally couldn’t stand what I was playing, that doesn’t give me license to “review” a game where I couldn’t make it past the first level. That wouldn’t be fair.
Nice to see you again, for the 45th time.
What I can tell you is why I stopped, and why I don’t necessarily think that a huge degree of difficulty makes a great game.
I understand the argument. I get why in the modern era of gaming, it’s unique for a title to flash back to the old days of yore, where there were no save points and when you died, there were swift and severe penalties. Nowadays, there’s an auto-saving checkpoint every five feet and you can regain all your life if you crouch for four seconds.
But that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to enjoy a game this sadistic, am I? I’ll explain for the uninitiated.
The idea is simple. You’re a knight, you fight skeletons and demons through a castle and eventually slay bosses. The trick comes in the form of when you die, you’re dead. You go to a kind of purgatory and have to work your way through a different level at half health in order to find a demon’s soul that will allow you to get your body back.
Would you get off your ass and come help me?
This would be hard enough as is, but the reason this is insanely difficult to the point where it can make you start foaming at the mouth is because in each of these levels there are A) no checkpoints, if you die you start over B) lots of places where you’ll instantly die because you don’t know what’s coming and C) the controls are utterly horrid, so even if you’ve beaten a section a dozen times, you will still find a way to inexplicably die. Also, when I was playing the server was down, so there were no helpful warning notes or assisting ghosts to help me on my quest the way they’re supposed to.
The entire idea behind this is that through sheer force of will and infinite repetition, you will work your way through the same level about 50 times, learning where each and every enemy and trap is, and eventually you’ll be able to whip the controls into submission long enough to actually get to the end.
But when you’ve spent four hours on the first goddamn level, it becomes clear this game is only for the truly die hard and masochistic. There are few games I’ve EVER walked away from, and certainly none at level one, but it became painfully clear that this game was just not for me.
I don’t know what’s happening here, but I’m sure I’m going to end up dead.
There’s no joy in repeating the same level scores of times in order to make progress at such a glacial pace. The “challenge” might be intense, but is it creative? Is it at all fun? I’m not the type of person who spends twenty hours beating games on Insane difficulty. I never understood the point in dying ten thousand times just to finally live once. There are those types of people yes, and they’ll likely enjoy a game as difficult as Demon’s Souls, but to me there’s nothing at all worthwhile about boxing a brick wall just because it’s difficult. Even if you eventually punch a hole through it, you’ll have more broken bones than you can count, and the few seconds thrill of victory will be vastly overshadowed by the endless hours of despair that came before it.
If you like Demon’s Souls, I don’t think you’re stupid. I might think you’re insane, and might enjoy being chained up and whipped for fun, but you’re entitled to your opinion.
But I’m entitled to mine. If you took away every checkpoint from modern video games, cut your own life in half and doubled your enemies, would it make the game better? I’m just not convinced that “challenging” is necessarily “good” when repetition is the key to victory and your greatest opponent is clunky controls.
I guess I might be going out with a whimper here, as I can’t think of any other past classic PS3 title I’ve been dying to play. I’ve covered a lot, but now I think for the most part I’m caught up to present day, and will now be able to review the exclusives as they come. What? Twisted Metal came out two weeks ago? Crap, I’m already behind the times.
Any more suggestions for me? Here’s the full list so far of what I’ve covered
I played Resistance and Killzone before I owned the system, but I didn’t find them worth investigating further. Infamous made me not really want to play Infamous 2.