|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: From Software|
|Pub: Namco Bandai Games|
|Release: October 4, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Demon's Souls was a hard game. Very few have actually beaten it, though I'm sure there are amazing people out there who have been able to conquer all of its ridiculously difficult levels. While you might think a game that has a reputation for being one of the most difficult games around might turn off regular gamers, Demon's Souls has earned scores of fans, becoming something of a cult hit since its release in 2009.
We recently got some hands-on time with Dark Souls, and our impressions are pretty simple: if you liked the first game, you'll like this one. Though Dark Souls isn't technically a sequel to Demon's Souls, it feels exactly the same as its "spiritual" predecessor. You play as an unnamed hero who faces impossibly difficult foes that range from skeletal foot soldiers to devastating Wyverns.
We started off by picking one of the game's many classes, and then soldiered off to what would be the first of many deaths. Like Demon's Souls, every enemy is on equal or better footing than you, so you can count on plenty of deaths. Your success in the game will be measured by your ability to ration things like magic and predict enemy movements.
After beating a few small bad guys and climbing through a staircase area, we had to fight a giant boar that had a rhino horn and a penchant for ramming us against a wall. This creature easily killed us five or six times before we gave up trying to kill him and made for a door on the side of the level. Such is the experience of playing Dark Souls—when you can't beat them, run. Of course, our victory was short-lived, as the door only led to some more small bad guys. Once we made our way back up to the giant boar, we were able to figure out that we needed to get him to charge us through a fire pit in order to defeat him.
There was a little more to the demo than this, but at this point we had been playing for 20 minutes and needed to hand over the controller. Did we die a bazillion times? Yes. Is this game lovingly reminiscent of Demon's Souls? Absolutely. The challenge here is brutal, but in a bizarrely fair way. Nothing about the game feels like a cheap boss fight (I'm looking at you, Sephiroth), and having enemies that are on equal or slightly better footing than you feels natural in a game like this. Dark Souls gives you the score early on, and the difficulty remains constant throughout instead of arbitrarily wavering like it does in more traditionally formatted games.
Dark Souls will have essentially the same format as Demon's Souls, which means that if you want to take the game online, you will absolutely be able to. In the final version, you'll be able to download bloodstains for clues, invade other players' games, and take on the challenge with a buddy. Of course, if you want to go at it alone—an extreme challenge, as I don't know how anyone could get through even the first level of Demon's Souls without at least using bloodstains—Dark Souls has got you covered there too. Dark Souls will be one of those games that has flexible enough gameplay that it will appeal to both solo and multiplayer enthusiasts.
Aside from setting and plot, there won't be a whole lot of deviation from the formula of the first game. However, Demon's Souls had a winning formula, and if they want to stick with it, I don't see a problem with it. And with small tweaks like new classes and enemies rounding out the game, I think this will be one that fans of Demon's Souls will lap right up. So if you are ready to die so much that the death screen burns into your brain forever, you can look forward to checking out Dark Souls when it comes out this October. Just don't say we didn't warn you.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer