It’s a little wonky to go from Dark Souls to Demon’s Souls, and I’m not just talking about you die-hard (and often) Souls games fans out there. A lot of people would say Demon’s Souls is inferior to Dark Souls, and while that may be fundamentally true, it’s only because Dark Souls is a good sequel. That’s right. I said it. What Demon’s Souls did wrong, developmental director Hidetaka Miyazaki noted and improved upon in the Soul Successor. Let’s get those little tidbits out of the way first, shall we?

Demon’s Souls and its vices:

  • No dashing jump.
  • A mana bar. This made magic unrestricted in terms of usage, thus rendering the whole art too accessible at all times. In short, if you used magic, you cheaped the game.
  • No plunging attack.
  • The infamously difficult to manipulate World and Character Tendencies.
  • Checkpoints only occur after beating a boss.
  • Being dead cuts your max health in half.

There’s several more, but I’ll leave it at that. As you can see, Demon’s Souls is a newborn game. It’s original in many senses, innovative in even more. The trial and error aspect of the Souls games and the triviality of death were both born with Demon’s Souls. So if you’re going to go back and play the first, don’t hold it in contempt for being different. If you’re looking to get into the Souls series, start with Demon’s Souls. If you happen to own an Xbox 360, nevermind. Shoot straight for Dark Souls.

Demon's Souls

At their core, the two games function in similar ways. Third person hack and slash (with considerable caution) with an extremely flexible RPG playstyle and lots of stuff to find. Sure, the bosses are hell, but that just makes killing them all the more satisfying, mm?

Grinding is considerably more difficult in Demon’s Souls, as enemies don’t drop as much. Where killing Hollow Soldiers in Dark will net you around 50 souls, the Dregling soldiers of Demon’s will drop a measly 4. Leveling is harder, which in turn means not dying while looking for your bloodstain is much more important. If you doubled up on deaths, you’d pay for it.

However, Demon’s Souls imparted subtle yet invaluable lessons to its players. If ever an environmental threat was to appear, the game would first notify you with a little “incident.” A reward for waiting and observing instead of rushing ahead thoughtlessly. With patience, you’d know that the red barrels explode, that the lone iron maidens harbor poison-dagger wielding prisoners, that this bridge right here is going to break and drop you into a crowd of soulthirsty foes.

Demon's Souls

So that’s just something to think about. If you’ve been keeping up-to-date on the goings on of the Soul series, you’d know that Dark Souls 2 is on the way. That’d make number three in the series. How about that, huh? I personally wonder how Demon’s Souls will be viewed once a few more games spill from Miyazaki’s beautiful mind… Hopefully it will be held in high regard as the origin of a chain of video game masterpieces as opposed to “the crappy first one that set up the awesome sequels.”

But that’s just me.

Martin Gaston of VideoGamer offers a review of the game feel and difficulty as opposed to a comparison, so if you’re looking for a more comprehensive lesson on what to expect from Demon’s Souls, this is the alternate review for you. Then again, I’ll likely be putting up a non-comparison review relatively soon, considering I have a lot to say about this particular gaming gem. Anyway, here’s a link for you:

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