A look back at the original Demon’s Souls by a first time player of the genre
Myself alongside millions around the world eagerly tuned in during the PS5’s launch event to witness Bluepoint Games pushing FromSoftware’s original vision for the Souls-borne series into 2020 and beyond.
After searching for weeks I was able to successfully locate and acquire the fabled PlayStation 5 towards the end of 2020.I snagged a copy of the game just as I got my PS5 and it was one of the first ones that I booted onto the system. I sat in awe and excitement as I watched the opening cutscene, and thenproceeded to spend an hour sculpting my own personal character. I had already made up my mind about diving completely into the game until I emerged out the other end with the platinum trophy. My journey through Demon’s Souls was nothing short of magical, and I experienced the exciting feeling of being slowly pulled into Boletaria. When I was playing Demon’s Souls, I was living and breathing Demon’s Souls. I needed to know the origin of every single enemy, I needed to know the in-depth story of every single boss in the levels and I obviously had to experience the glorious soundtrack in the gym. After around 55 to 60 hours of absolute perfection, I rolled the credits and quickly dipped into their New Game+ mode so I could achieve my highly desired platinum trophy.
I had finished the game but I grew more and more curious about how the current release differed from the original content. I wanted to experience the original Demon’s Souls on the PlayStation 3. I spent the days ahead reading about how the original game functioned, and watched numerous people in the speed-running community blaze through the classic game multiple times through all kinds of routes, using a plethora of exploits as well. Lastly it was brought to my attention that the original also had a platinum trophy available, which all but cemented it as the next video game I was going to lose myself to.
There has always been something special about Demon’s Souls on the PS3. It originally launched in 2009 to critical acclaim, but fans didn’t initially get behind it. The game proved to be too difficult for some, too clunky for others and far too vague for most. It didn’t follow a traditional story line like most and the increased difficulty was a departure from other action RPGs at that time. The lore was spread all around the in-game levels but you had to make an active effort to seek the story out or else you’d be walking around dark corridors aimlessly. After testing and playing the original game for 2 hours, former Sony Worldwide Studios President, Shuhei Yoshida famously said “This is crap. This is an unbelievably bad game.”
I set off on my journey to find a PlayStation 3 which I could use and experience the original Demon’s Souls on. Unfortunately in my country, finding a well maintained and functioning console was harder than finding myself a PlayStation 5 around launch. I was able to purchase a used copy of the original Demon’s Souls pretty easily but I had around 3 different PlayStation 3 consoles die out on me just as I purchased them. I eventually stumbled across a pastel white PS3 super-slim and it proved to be the console which would finally allow me to experience the original.
Yet again I sat through a similar opening sequence but this time I spent a very tiny amount of time on creating my personal character because I couldn’t wait to jump into the game. The original tries to do its best at creating the targeted experience on the limited hardware capabilities of the PlayStation 3; from constant low and dropped frames to the frame-rate tanking once you use a fire spell, the game struggles quite a lot at different points. The online functionality of the game has been shut down a few years ago but you can access fan-made servers like Archstones by entering the DNS server into your PlayStation 3’s settings. The fan-made servers are excellent and provide some incredible quality of life adjustments to some rather complicated aspects of the game like world tendency. I had a much better idea about the levels and enemy placements this time around and I succeeded in cleaning up every single boss much more easily as well. I was able to roll the credits after 35 hours of playtime but I had to make my way through multiple playthroughs of the game as it got increasingly difficult, just for the platinum trophy since the requirements are much more different than it’s PlayStation 5 counterpart.
Apart from the obvious graphical upgrade, the audio design of the game was completely revamped. The excellent 3D audio being outputted by the PS5 really allows you to appreciate the beautiful soundtrack throughout all of the levels and different boss fights as well. According to me, the most significant upgrade to the Demon’s Souls experience is offered through the PS5 Dualsense controller. The haptic feedback allows you to feel every single bit of movement throughout all kinds of levels while the adaptive triggers make you feel the tension as you pull back on a compound long-bow. This adds an entirely separate dimension to the gameplay of the remake since the original just offered basic rumble features on the DualShock 3 controller.
The game definitely shows its age as it struggles to perform well technically but as you play through it, you appreciatehow Bluepoint Games basically remade Demon’s Souls to absolute perfection, even down to every single flaw. Once you notice what this game and the formula behind it was able to do for FromSoftware and every single game they’ve made since then, it is difficult to not appreciate how special the game is, both the original and the remake. This is the video game which spawned an entire genre of video games after it. Demon’s Souls is to Souls-like games what Metroid and Castlevania are to Metroidvania games. In a world where amazing games like the Dark Souls trilogy, Bloodborne and Sekiro exist, I am incredibly glad Demon’s Souls was my first Soulsborne experience.