Chapter 2: The warmth of a Soul
From Software delivered a huge title in Demons Souls, not only as a great game and a leap in the industry but a benchmark by which to measure risk, reward, difficulty and endearingly the act of meeting your demise in horrible ways. To just name a few, I’ve had my essence sapped, stabbed, run through, slashed, chomped, smashed and even been sent off a chasm of infinite proportions. The wonderful thing about the last one is the world in which this takes place. From Software has created rich, vibrantly dark worlds that leave you with the feeling of misery, heartache, despair and oblivion. Not in a general sense but as it pertains to your character. Which is kinda the nuts and bolts of the art direction, music and tone put in place for both Demon’s Soul and Dark Souls.
Demons Souls as mentioned in my review takes place in order to quell the appetite of the “Old One” an ancient drinker of souls, the ultimate in evil and a foe on par with Galactus from Fantastic Four. He is shrouded deep within the bowels of the earth and trapped in a quasi real slumber. The Maiden in Black, a blind female being, urges you to “Lull” the Old One back to sleep and by extension save their realm. A young boy like figure sits atop a grand vestibule and gives you his remaining power to rid the evil across the land by using gates called Archstones. Beyond them lie the endless halls of Boletaria, a labyrinth of mining shafts and the lake of fire in Stonefang, the tortured screams of Latria, a lost island claimed by the dead known as Shrine of Storms and finally through the fetid marshlands in the Valley of Defilement. All of these areas are indeed crafted to show you the struggle as well as shape you into a new type of gamer as the unforgiving landscape and denizens test your ability to die.
If your looking to get started on Demons Souls, you can pick it up for roughly $8-$12 online or in your local store, most likely used mind you. Here is a good rule of thumb for beginnings to this game.
Each character class is comprised of unique gear and stats, however any class can eventually do everything which makes choosing a class less important. Pay attention to the “Soul Level” upon creation. This value is a rough estimate of the beginning difficulty or versatility a class offers early on from creation to about Soul lv 30. The Barbarian has unparalleled strength, is actually really difficult to play with due to poor armor and no shield upon creation, whereas just a Knight is extremely easy to play as it has a good starting weapon, vitality and armor and also benefits from well rounded stats for both types of magic. The Knight is my class to recommend for beginners.
When you enter the game for the first time you will have to make a journey to the Nexus, which sadly may end differently than you want, but alas you will arrive there either way. This area is full of NPC’s: Stockpile Thomas (he holds your loot), The Maiden in Black and Blacksmith Boldwin (used to repair, purchase and upgrade items) and also a few lesser ones that teach you miracles and spells as well as unlocked NPC’s for particular conditions being satisfied. Your first task is the first archstone, just behind the figure with a blueish hue; Boletarian Palace. Your job here is to get to the end of the level (easier said than done for new comers 🙂 and battle Phalanx, the Demon! Once he is dead, you will unlock the ability to upgrade your character and progress through the story and all other game worlds. To start off, you will need a bow that you upgrade to at least +3 and a decent shield that blocks all physical damage. Once you have this and a stash of arrows, kill the Red Dragon in world 1-2, thats Boletarian Palace, waypoint 2, (just beyond Phalanx). After he is defeated, you will have the versatility defensively, in melee and ranged to venture into the other worlds and with enough souls to upgrade a reasonable amount of times from the Maiden in Black. Another thing about classes, remember all classes can do everything. The Knight, as mentioned above is a great starting class and if you want to get miracles or magic, do so, it makes characters so much more fun to be well rounded but keep in mind that for your first time in the game and first 4-40 soul levels, you should focus on strength, vitality, endurance and dexterity so you can live long enough to learn combat, explore and ultimately find the resources to mold your Knight into a magic wielder correctly. Lastly, save the souls you acquire from the major demons as they provide upgrades to unique arms and armor not found anywhere else in game. To get those items you need the soul of Flamelurker, the 2nd boss in the 2nd world, Stonefang Tunnel and also have opened up access to Blacksmith Ed in the same world as well. Goodluck and have fun dying! 🙂
Dark Souls is From Software’s second installment and other than the beautiful art style and the painstakingly terrifying ways you die, share no similarities by comparison to Demons Souls. This game is truly legendary in scope. The environments are done so well in the first and are perfected in Dark Souls and the graphics took a huge turn for the better. Because this game is connected in terms of zones, unlike Demons Souls, you get a huge sense of scale for yourself, what is around you, off in the distance and the untimely arrival of horrifying demons 10 times your size, which doesn’t make a huge difference because the small ones kill you too!
What From Software has discovered or perhaps invented in the gaming industry is somewhat of a western spin on eastern art, whilst bringing back the good ol’ day’s of difficult, rewarding game-play and in such a way that feels fresh, no reboots here! I have a Dark Souls review here and a walkthrough/guide here.
Namco Bandai announced recently that a DLC (Artorias of the Abyss), will be available for Dark Souls 10/23/12 and it appears to be awesome from what we can see now and you can expect to see more about it here at GWW comes release day.
Stu and I love these games and place high value in their direction and style, worth buying!