For months leading up to its release, we’ve emphasized the game’s difficulty level, striving in every instance not to misrepresent the game and to ensure that curious gamers are not caught off guard by the challenges that await them. That said, we don’t want anyone to steer clear of the game because of what they’ve heard. If that is not the perfect segue into some starting tips for new heroes, then I don’t know what is.
Demon’s General Warning: Fire can be hazardous to your health
*Mild Spoiler Alert*
Your first task in Demon’s Souls, before even jumping into the game world, is to create your character. Demon’s Souls offers 10 different player classes, each with different starting stats and equipment.
Unlike many RPGs, Demon’s Souls does not punish players for choosing something out of line with their play style. Regardless of which class you pick, you’ll be able to eventually do anything another class is more capable of at the start; all it takes is a little extra work. Therefore, if you want to be a spellcaster, archer, or melee fighter, it will make more sense to choose an appropriate class to start, but just because you do so doesn’t mean you won’t be dabbling in other classes’ strengths later on, and you probably won’t be anywhere near as tempted as in other RPGs to keep creating new characters and playing the first bit over and over again in order to make that perfect build. That simply isn’t accomplished at the beginning; it’s done over the course of your epic adventure (as it should be).
I (and most Demon’s Souls players, it seems) would recommend the Royalty class to most newcomers. The Royalty class begins with a Soul Level of 1, which means that the Soul Point requirement for advancing the first few levels is the least, allowing players the most early stat customization options. Moreover, the class begins with a catalyst (wand) and the Soul Arrow spell memorized, making them a long-range spell casting force to be reckoned with. On top of all this, they start with the Fragrant Ring equipped, an item that offers slow but steady Magic Point regeneration. For more class tips, and other helpful info, consult our newly launched wiki.
This description may make the Royalty class sound like a no-brainer (and I’m sure some Demon’s Souls players would argue that is the case), but the beauty of the game is that the class decision at the beginning ultimately makes little difference to the vast majority of the game experience (contrary to most games). Not to suggest that customization doesn’t matter; in fact, it matters a great deal!
Rather, in Demon’s Souls, it is the choices you make on how to advance and evolve your character that are key, delivering a MUCH more satisfying and rewarding role-playing experience than many other entries in the genre. Also, the Royalty class will initially suffer in up-close combat, something to consider if that’s your style (and consideration of what exactly your preferred play style in such a game actually is is crucial to your enjoyment of the game… again, something that other RPGs don’t really take into consideration).
My, how many eyes you have…
Don’t worry when you die almost immediately at the end of the tutorial; death is unavoidable by design. You’ll be revived in the Nexus by the Maiden in Black, who will later on be your means for advancing/leveling your character. The first and only region you’ll initially have access to is the Boletarian Palace (1-1). Don’t be alarmed when you begin this area and find a number of bloodstains (indications of other players’ deaths, if you’re connected to PlayStation Network). The game takes a little getting used to, hence some folks meeting early (and repeated, at times) deaths.
Here are a few important tips:
1. Watch your stamina carefully – Stamina is crucial to melee fighting in Demon’s Souls. There have been very well-received RPGs in gaming history that have allowed players to simply hack away at the attack button, but this is NOT the case in Demon’s Souls. You will only be able to string/combo attack as long as you have stamina (the green bar) left, and when it is depleted, you’ll just stand there and be open to attack unless you move around intelligently and manage your stamina well. Power swings take more stamina (duh), and absorbing a power hit will deplete you as much if not more (and if you’re already low on stamina, will stun you and open you up to attacks).
2. Don’t try to get away with more than makes logical sense – That is to say, if you think it would be ill-advised to take on 4-5 foes at once in real life, don’t put yourself in that situation in Demon’s Souls. Rushing ahead foolishly will get a lot of enemy attention. Sound judgment would suggest progressing with a more measured pace, only antagonizing a manageable number of enemies and making your life easier.
3. Shield if you got’em – If you are a melee fighter, you’d be remiss not to use your shield at every possible opportunity. With most shields, you’ll still take a bit of damage when you absorb a blow using a shield (although the amount varies with shield quality, and some shields negate all damage), but it will be far less than having no shield at all (even faced with fire/magic attacks, a shield can help reduce damage taken).
4. Pay CLOSE attention to your surroundings (and if you’re playing online, the hints left by others) – The game will rarely warn you if you’re about to make a mistake or head in a path not quite appropriate for your character. It will instead let you make the mistake, die, and hopefully learn from it. That said, the messaging system and bloodstain system built into the game give players connected to PSN an ample supply of hints and warnings for avoiding ambushes, traps, and dangerous foes (for more info, watch our second walkthrough video, which touches on the online features extensively.
Once you get the hang of 1-1 and defeat the area’s boss, Demon’s Souls opens up to you—literally. You’ll be able to access the initial area of all of the five other archstones AND you’ll receive the Blue eye stone, which lets you drop Soul Signs on the ground and, when you’re dead/in soul form, you can be summoned by living players into their games to assist them in their quest.
You could have helpful information like this if you pick up the Deluxe Edition, which is selling rather briskly, and snag yourself the strategy guide, which is not sold separately…
I’ll suggest beginners proceed to 1-2 or 2-1 after completing 1-1, or, at the very least, leave the fifth archstone for a little later. It’s a bit more challenging (relatively speaking) and will be more enjoyable a little later on.
Demon’s Souls is a very hard game to sum up or describe in a short amount of space, as evidenced by this rather lengthy blog entry. As deep and nuanced as the game is, as much as there is to get out of it, players will find the actual game mechanics incredibly simple and intuitive. It’s breaking out of the run-and-gun (or hack-and-slash, rather) mentality of other games that can be a challenge. Once you manage to, though, expect one of the most rewarding, satisfying, time-sucking roleplaying experiences you’ve ever had, complete with beautiful visuals, haunting music, and some of the most immersive stages ever.
We’re really excited to join you in the Kingdom of Boletaria and perhaps fight alongside you as you confront a towering boss (or help you fend off another invading player from your world), but don’t only take our word for it; plenty of critics agree:
9/10, Editor’s Choice Award — “Brutally challenging and utterly engrossing, this innovative role-playing game is one of the year’s best.” — GameSpot
95 — “Gorgeous, thoughtful, and complete unto itself, it’s the second-best title I’ve played this year. Maybe even better.” — Play Magazine
5/5 — “Demon’s Souls is the best game I’ve played all year.” — RPGamer
95 — “Without question, Demon’s Souls is one of 2009’s finest titles, and an amazing, challenging journey without equal.” — GameCritics
94 — “This is a truly exceptional RPG experience that hasn’t been offered by any other game in its genre.” — GameZone
Demon’s Souls is out now for PlayStation 3…see you online!
As a thanks for all your interest and support of Demon’s Souls, we’ve got 10 signed posters (by Mr. Takeshi Kajii, producer) to give out to folks. All you have to do is comment about this blog post and tell us what class you’ll be when you finally get the game (for more info regarding classes, visit the official game site at www.demons-souls.com). We’ll choose 10 winners and send them one of these ultra-rare collectibles!