Demon's Souls has been out in Asia for several months now, and it's been receiving a lot of positive attention from other regions. North American role-playing game fans will be happy to know that Atlus has decided to scoop up this hidden gem and publish it here. We've only had the opportunity to scratch the surface of this intriguing RPG at E3, but from what we've seen, it looks like it could easily suck up a huge amount of time. It's an action RPG that you play alone for the most part, but you aren't truly alone in your quest because you'll come across the ghosts of other players as you progress through the game.
Who's Making This Game: The game was developed by From Software, who also worked on Enchanted Arms. Demon's Souls will be made exclusively for the PlayStation 3 and published in North America by Atlus, who has a reputation for publishing quirky but also incredibly challenging RPGs.
What the Game Looks Like: Demon's Souls murky and gloomy aesthetic matches the subject matter, but there's beauty to find as well. Impressive cutscenes and still art introduce you to the kingdom that has been overrun by demons, and the in-game graphics look fantastic as you hack away tirelessly under a sunless sky.
What There Is to Do: The kingdom of Boletaria is swarming with demons of all shapes and sizes--thanks to a power-hungry king--so you'll be traveling through the foggy wastelands and exploring dingy dungeons trying to collect as many souls as you can. It's not like a traditional massively multiplayer online game in which there are hundreds and thousands of players around you at all times. While you're always going to be online when playing Demon's Souls, the ghosts that you see when you stumble upon a bloodstain are death animations of players who have died at that very spot. Players can leave helpful or foreboding messages behind for others, warning them of the dangers ahead or directing them to secrets that might be easily missed. We were told that there will be competitive player-versus-player for up to four later in the game, and you can also play cooperatively in groups of three to do boss runs.
How the Game Is Played: Our time with the game was brief, so we only made it through the tutorial and watched a short demo by an Atlus rep. After customizing and naming our character, a helpful tutorial eased our way into the dark realm. There are 13 classes to choose from, but we went with a warrior to keep things simple. One important thing to note is that everything happens in real time, so you can't pause the game whenever you want. You attack with the right triggers and parry/block with the left, and you have full control over the camera with the right analog stick. The controls are straightforward and easy to get a hold of; staying alive and collecting souls is the tricky part.
What They Say: Beautiful, compelling, and unforgiving, Demon's Souls is the hardcore RPG experience PlayStation 3 system owners have been waiting for since the platform's launch.
What We Say: Demon's Souls takes a unique approach to the standard action RPG genre by creating a solid single-player experience--except for the fact that you're not really alone. The ability to interact through short messages and see how others have died before you makes the game feel more alive--in a creepy and chilling sort of way. It makes it so that you don't feel like you're entirely alone when you're playing solo. You'll, at least, get a heads-up and learn that jumping into that hole in the ground was a bad idea. We're curious to see how the multiplayer will work because it seems like this game is going to be quite challenging on your own. Look for Demon's Souls when it is released this fall.