The Playstation 3 had a huge year in 2009, which saw the releases of huge games such as Assassin’s Creed II, Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted 2. However, that year also saw the release of something radically different. 2009 was the year that the then little-known From Software (previously known for the Armoured Core series) released Demon’s Souls.
Set in a dark fantasy world, players take control of a hero who has bravely travelled in search of fame and glory to the kingdom of Boletaria, a land plagued by a cursed fog that summons bloodthirsty demons to feast on the souls of mortals.
To top it off, when you die (and it is when, not if) not only are you sent to the beginning of the area, but your health bar is halved, only becoming whole again when you’ve beaten a boss, proving you don’t need it.
Players create their own avatars, and in contrast to the typical open-world RPGs of the time such as Oblivion, Demon’s Souls had players travel through a series of linear (but very elaborate and meticulously-designed) levels, with items having to be earned in combat or looted from the corpse of one of your fellow fallen brothers-in-arms. Demon’s Souls boasted a truly unique online multiplayer, in which players could leave helpful messages for other players in their single-player world, or join forces with other players in their world to assist or kill them.
Demon’s Souls had another trick up its sleeve - it was hard. Combat was slow, heavy and methodical. Enemies were smart, worked together and hit like trucks. Bosses were huge, each being radically different from the last but all requiring skill and strategy to beat. To top it off, when you die (and it is when, not if) not only are you sent to the beginning of the area, but your health bar is halved, only becoming whole again when you’ve beaten a boss, proving you don’t need it.
The cult that Demon’s Souls grew was small, but vocal and determined. The game received rave reviews upon release and helped put From Software, and the game’s director Hidetaka Miyazaki, on the map. Whilst Demon’s Souls was a little rough around the edges, and veered too close to unfairly hard one too many times, it remains one of the PS3’s finest games and is well worth a look for any one who wants to check out how this whole Souls thing started.