Whether you waited until it’s official UK release or were far too impatient and decided to import it from elsewhere, it is safe to say that Demons Souls was one of the most unexpected underground hits of the past few years. Having built up a cult following due to it’s unique online features and punishing difficulty, Demons Souls has swooped up numerous accolades and rewards, and won over the hearts of those stupid and foolish enough to even attempt to play it.
Fortunately for any would be Demons Souls players out there, there are a few seasoned Demons Souls players within the Newb Review office, and after numerous playthroughs, mental breakdowns and broken controllers, they have decided to spill the secrets of their success and provide a definitive guide in order to turn Demons Souls novices into soul collecting, slayers.
In this part of A Newb’s Guide to Demons Souls, we will cover the fundamental basics that are essential to your survival and overall enjoyment of one of the most trying games you can buy.
Pay attention class…
Picking a Character Class
Right off the bat, there are a total of 13 different character classes to choose from when initially creating your character, each equipped with their own sets of stats, equipment and powers, so picking the right one is crucial. With such a broad spectrum of classes, it can be hard to choose, but there are a few classes that are definitely geared towards first time players, as well as classes that should be avoided as they offer perhaps too much of a challenge for first timers.
The Knight is perhaps the most famous of all the classes in Demons Souls as it can be seen on the box of all the different versions of the game. The Knight is one of the best, if not the best, classes to choose for first timer, as statistically it is the most balanced, well-rounded class of the lot.
The addition of heavy armour right off the bat means you will survive a little longer than most during your first adventures. AND the Knight’s increased strength gives you an even bigger advantage by making your melee attacks naturally stronger, which is extremely important in a melee-centric game.
Rest assured you can feel safe with your decision to pick a Knight because, although they aren’t the most creative of classes, you will spend a lot less time dead.
Another well-rounded character class comes in the form of The Soldier, however The Soldier deviates from The Knight in the armor department. Whilst The Knight can lark around in its set of heavy armor, soldiers have to settle with starting in their own lighter armor.
At the cost of dexterity, magic and some intelligence, The Soldier also has the most vitality of all the classes, apart from The Barbarian. With the addition of good strength, endurance and health stats, The Soldier class is a very tempting option.
However, The Soldier’s best qualities are in its choice of weaponry. Soldiers start with a Broadsword and a Short Spear, giving you the ability to deal with more dangerous situations. Spears are very effective in corridors and narrow passages, and are good for keeping enemies at a distance. While the Broadsword provides ample damage for close-quarters. With a Spear in one hand and a Sword in the other you will be more than a match for the abundance of enemies you will face during your quest.
And if Spears and Broadswords aren’t your type of thing, don’t worry because Soldiers can use all weapons.
Despite starting off with low health and low strength, Royalty characters are still worth considering mainly for their magical abilities.
The magic available to Royalty gives you a longer reach advantage than the close-quarter weapons available to The Knight and The Soldier, enabling you to keep enemies at range.
All Royalty characters also start with a “Fragrant Ring”, which recharges your characters magic over time, essentially meaning you will never run out of magic to use and you won’t have to keep topping your magic points up with “Old Spice” like those filthy Magicians.
Their lack of armor is also a double edged sword. On the one hand you will, of course, take more damage when you are hit, but the lack of armor means your Royalty character is more mobile and harder to hit as dodging attacks becomes easier.
Hunters are survivalists, they begin with good endurance, good dexterity and decent health too. However where the hunter really excels is in their use of longbows and crossbows. As a Hunter you gain an addition damage bonus to arrow weapons types and the ability to zoom in on enemies from greater distances. This zoom perk means you can keep enemies at range and, as long as you are out of the enemies pull, they wont rush you and your Hunter wont die.
Of course you also start with a melee weapon, and a good one at that, it is a bloody Battle Axe, a personal favourite around the office. It is stylish and will get you out of a lot of sticky situations should you run out of arrows.
Classes to Avoid
What’s that you say? You like the look of the Barbarian because he reminds you of Conan? Well, take a step back motherlicker because picking a Barbie is for those with a death wish. Barbarian’s may be blessed with insurmountable strength but the drawbacks are far greater for you will start with no armor….. just your underpants.
So unless you want to try slaying the almighty Dragon God in nothing but your pair of lucky pants, stay well away.
So you want to be a Thief do you? Well that’s great, it’s nice to see you have a passion for stealing things, but the universe wont let your kleptomania go unpunished! Thief’s health bars drain quicker than my wallet on release day and your strength is pitiful at best. Remember this is a melee focused game, the short range attack of the Thief’s daggers is no match for a dragon.
On the plus side Thieves do have higher luck so a trip to las vegas might be advisable.
Magicians are great, who doesn’t love a magician? Well clearly the developers of Demons Souls don’t, so they made sure you would regret your decision to pick a Magician, quickly.
You’ll hit like a girl, you’ll die more often than a Dodo Bird and if you do use your magical prowess even a little too much, you will run out of “Old Spice” in the most awkward of situations.
Learn The Basic Moves
Combat in Demon Souls is all about timing, whether its avoiding a blow, hitting an enemy with a light attack or crushing them with a heavy attack, it’s that simple. Get some practice in and get your timing down to a tea as it will pretty much save your life time and time again. Demon Souls is punishing so avoiding getting hit is crucial, so practice, practice, practice.
Timing is also important in the way that you use your stamina. In the game, everything from attacking, running, blocking, they all drain your stamina bar and if your stamina bar is drained, your in big trouble, as it practically makes you defenceless. Conserve your stamina and time your attacks correctly to give yourself every fighting chance.
The levels in Demons Souls are fairly linear and easy to navigate, however there are plenty of hidden areas for you to discover along the way, most with even more challenging enemies and special items so getting lost is also quite easy to do. Levels are vast, so along the way you may even find a shop here or there for you to re-stock your health/magic items. This is terribly important as levels are also littered with very few checkpoints and full of traps, so be careful where you tread, you never know if you’re stepping into a trap until it’s too late.
Bloodstains within Demon Souls signify a person’s death: by touching bloodstains the game shows you how the individual who left it died, which is a great resource for showing you dangers up ahead.
In addition to bloodstains on the ground, players can leave messages for other players to find and read. But the devious nature of human beings means that you must take them with a pinch of salt, as more often than not, the message you have just read could be nothing more than a cruel trick to get you killed.
Which leads us nicely onto our next section…
Keep Your Wits About You
Demon Souls is brutal, hard and unforgiving, and this is partly because, on your first play through, you have no idea where enemies will spawn. It’s a question of trial and error more than anything else. If you are lucky enough to have friends who also own the game, you can team up to battle monsters together provided you are within 10 levels of each other. The key thing is to keep your wits about you so that you are never caught short when an enemy jumps out and attacks.
And it’s not just enemies that are trying to kill you, oh no. Without spoiling anything, if you are stupid enough to provoke NPC’s throughout your adventure, you may find yourself having your ass handed to you.
And if it isn’t NPC’s or normal enemies, it’s other players online. As well as trying to trick you into killing yourself by leaving messages, some players may take an even more devious route and join your game uninvited as a Black Phantom. Players can join your game and attempt to kill you at any time, in any place, and you won’t even know about it. The game doesn’t even alert you to tell you someone else has joined your game, so be on the lookout.
Summoning Other Players
However much of a badass you might be, you’re going to have to summon players eventually. It makes the game a lot more enjoyable for starters, and in the unlikely event a super-powerful enemy appears to crash the party, you will have some back up.
To summon players all you have to do is interact with any blue glowing messages on the ground; keep an eye out for these because they don’t stick around forever.
Apart from helping you defeat demons, players will occasionally drop items for you too (the ones who pay attention anyway) so sticking together will pay off nicely while you are getting used to the game.
Now not everyone is a team player and some people will just like irritating and annoying you for fun, but never fear! Should some fun loving spirit enter your dimension and proceed to start ruining your game, you can give them a rating ranging from S,A,B,C or D which affects their online reputation, which is viewable by other players.
Soon after you have started the game you will inevitably get killed. Don’t worry, it happens, get used to it. Upon your untimely demise you will enter spirit form. In spirit form your health will be cut in half, which means you are going to have to be twice as cautious, and remember where you died because all your souls (the most valuable resource in the game), are lying there. Should you get killed again whilst in spirit form, you will lose those souls.
However it’s not all doom and gloom, one advantage of sprit form is that the game, especially fighting bosses, will become easier, because in spirit form enemies are less aggressive (apparently).
Thankfully, there are multiple ways you can revive yourself and claim back you fleshy form:
1. Get yourself summoned into another persons game and be a team player, because defeating the boss of said level will revive you and gain you gratitude, along with any items the host player doesn’t want.
2. If you don’t like being nice you could also invade somebody elses game as a “black phantom” and make it your mission to decapitate the host player, ending the game for him and any other souls in his world, whilst at the same time reviving you.
3. The world of Demons Souls is also littered with “Stones of Ephemeral Eyes” which when used will instantly revive you. Sure, it’s not the most exciting way to come back from the brink but those little stones will get you out of tight situations. Lets say you’re in spirit form and your getting your ass kicked, one more blow and your dead right? Well if you have one of these stones you can use it on the spot and be fully replenished without ever leaving the level, how convenient!
Item & Soul Management
Your main concern will be healing items which are littered throughout the game, but can be hard to find, so ration them and use them carefully. They can usually be found in all sorts of boxes throughout each level, so break them open and see what you can find.
As you progress further in the game other items which allow you to upgrade your character become increasingly important. Whether it’s getting better armor (which is incredibly hard to find), or using items to improve your weaponry, use them sensibly. They are scarce and can be vital in beating enemies and bosses along the way.
Souls are everything in Demon Souls. They are the currency you use to buy things and serve as the experience points you use to level up your character. Unfortunately, getting souls isn’t easy. They are generally dropped by every enemy you kill, but can also occasionally be found throughout each level. Use them wisely and remember to stick to your strengths. Using valuable souls on your weaker attributes can be less effective than levelling up your most powerful attributes.
REMEMBER, when you die, you lose every soul you have at the time, and the only way to regain them is by going back to where you died and picking them up again.
It may seem like you’re up against the impossible, but with these tips in mind you should be able to survive a little bit longer on your first playthrough of this hardcore hack-and-slash adventure. More than anything else Demons Souls will require you to stay cool, calm and collected while you fight bosses who would eat Godzilla for breakfast.
In part two we will be going over all the bosses in the game and the tactics you will need in order to beat them, so stay tuned!
-Adam Radcliffe & Kieran Roycroft