If there’s one thing to take note of while playing the epitome of unforgiving games known as Demon’s Souls, it is this: there won’t be anyone to hold your hand and guide you though the game. After the very brief tutorial at the start of the game, you’re really not told anything else. Upgrading weapons, learning how to use magic and miracles, what weakness certain enemies have, all of it must be learned as you play. Alone. Whilst it’s far from straightforward to discover these things as a first timer in the English version of the game, if you were foolish enough to buy the Korean import like Newb Review’s Adam Radcliffe, it’s a whole lot tougher. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is because the manual is in Korean.
Yet another potential stumbling block is item usage. Throughout your dungeon crawling you’ll pick up a plethora of items that initially give no clue as to their purpose. Read on to uncover their secrets…
Thankfully, the items in Demon’s Souls boil down to three major categories:
As we discussed in Part 1, souls are the game’s currency. Each world in Demon’s Souls provides ample opportunity for acquiring them, so there’s no fear of running out; just a fear of dying mid-level and losing everything you’ve fought so hard to loot up to that point. Primarily you will use souls to level up your character. Though you can only start doing this once you’ve completed level 1-1 and killed the Phalanx boss, thereafter you can level up as much as you like. Unfortunately each time you increase your preferred stat, the price of further levelling will also increase. This is not much of a problem during the start of the game, but you’ll soon need to think a great deal about which stats you need more: it all depends on your play style and class.
The secondary use for souls is to maintain your equipment. There are plenty of weapons to choose from in Demon’s Souls and a nice selection of armor too, but none of your favoured apparel will be any use at all unless you look after it. ~ bit of spit and polish here and there will help (no it won’t) but ultimately you’ll need to repair them at a blacksmith. Of course this will cost you in souls but don’t fret, the blacksmiths don’t charge much. This is just as well, as you’ll want to repair each and every time you return to the nexus from your plundering travels. Conveniently, there’s a blacksmith right in the nexus; his name is Ed and his brother lives in 2-1 Stonefang Tunnel. Just be mindful of how much damage you’re taking during your adventures because as expected, the more you get hit, the more you’ll need to repair. And the more you’ll die.
There are lots of ways to heal yourself in Demon’s Souls and you’ll be doing it a lot. As you might expect, there’s a range of magic to keep you from Death’s door, like the imaginatively named “Heal” and “Regeneration” spells. These come in handy during the start of the game, and are especially helpful if you are a magician, as you’ll start with relatively higher MP than other classes. If you’re not a magician, expect to be eating a lot of herbs, and I’m not talking about sage or rosemary. Here’s a list of all the healing herbs, and their effects:
- Crescent Moon Grass – Recovers small amount of HP
- Half Moon Grass – Recovers some HP
- Late Moon Grass – Recovers large amount of HP
- Full Moon Grass – Recovers almost all HP
- New Moon Grass – Recovers HP completely
- Dark Moon Grass – Recovers all HP and cures user of status effects such as poison and bleeding
As well as repairing your equipment, blacksmiths provide one other vital service and that’s upgrading. Only shields and weapons can be upgraded and it will cost your a great many souls to do so, along with a selection of special stones found across the levels. There are 14 different types of stone and you’re likely to be left quite confused as to what they’re all for until you’ve progressed well into the game. To give you a head start, here’s a brief summary:
- Blade stone – increases DEX bonus, lowers STR bonus. Upgrading weapons will increase attack power, lower weapon durability.
- Clear stone – Evens out STR + DEX bonuses.
- Cloud stone - Used to upgrade shields. Increases magic damage resistance + guard break resistance.
- Darkmoon stone - Regenerates MP over time.
- Dragon stone - Removes stat bonuses but adds high base damage and fire damage to weapon.
- Faint stone - Regenerates HP over time, lowers STR+DEX bonus’s slightly.
- Grey stone - Increases STR bonus. Used on swords, axes, hammers.
- Hard stone - Increases a weapon’s power/base damage.
- Marrow stone - Increases critical hit damage, lowers base damage.
- Mercury stone - Applies poison damage to weapons.
- Moonlight stone - Adds magic damage to weapons.
- Sharp stone - Increases attack power on spears, daggers, and curved swords.
- Spider stone - Greatly increases DEX bonus, lowers STR bonus and increases the Range attribute of a bow by 5.
- Sucker stone - Adds bleed damage. Increases DEX bonus, lowers STR bonus
Stones add a lot of weight to your item burden, so it’s important that you put them in storage with “Stockpile Thomas” as soon as possible. Helpfully, you don’t need to have stones on your person when you go to a smithy to upgrade, you’ll be able to upgrade even if they’re in storage. As with stat increases for your character, upgrading weapons will begin as a simple enough and cheap process, but the more you do it the more stones you’ll need. Some stones are quite rare and may require a grueling farming session to find them. If you see a Crystal Lizard it’s always worth chasing down and obliterating the little critters before they disappear, as Crystal Lizards will always drop some valuable stones.
There are two additional factors that can subtly but significantly affect your game as you progress through Demon’s Souls: World Tendency and Character Tendency.
Your actions while playing Demon’s Souls will affect the world in different ways. The World Tendency will shift between white and black according to these actions and the difficulty of each level will adjust with it. Lighter tendency will manifest in enemies having less health, and doing less damage, but the experience and drops from such enemies are also reduced. Darker tendency worlds will be the opposite; tougher enemies, better loot and more souls available. To check your World Tendency, simply visit the status menu screen. Do this often, as there are certain events in the game which only occur in full black or full white tendency. Its also worth noting that once you have obtained pure white world tendency in stage 1-1, the two dragons asleep on the hill will be gone, leaving you to pillage the abundance on valuable items from charred scattered corpses they were guarding.
In addition to world tendency, your character has their own internal tendency. Killing innocent civilians or invading the games of other players games as a black phantom and killing them will shift it towards black. Likewise, killing phantoms who invade your game, killing bosses, and freeing captured prisoners will shift it towards white. Unlike World Tendency, for the most part a change in Character Tendency will have little noticeable effect on your game. In pure white character tendency your HP is increased, and at pure black it is lowered. As with world tendency there’ll also be special events which occur when your character is pure white or pure black.
During your play of Demon’s Souls you may encounter the following unique characters, or mini-bosses. They’re completely avoidable should you so wish, but if you fancy a challenge they will make worthy opponents, it’s just a shame the rewards for doing so aren’t nearly as worthy.
Old King Doran
Also known as “The Last Hero”, Old King Doran is a demigod of the ancient past and the founder of Boletaria, locked away by the False King inside a Mausoleum which houses one of the Kingdom’s most valued treasures – the Demonbrandt. In order to fight the King and obtain the Demonbrandt you need to either kill or free Bostrava of Boletaria. You’ll run into Bostrava multiple times thoughout your quest, so choosing to kill him may not be easy but it’ll get you the key much quicker, oh and darken your character tendency as well. Once you have the key to unlock and free Old King Doran you can challenge Doran to a duel for the right to claim Demonbrandt. He won’t put up much of a fight; you simply have to “prove your strength” to him and once you’ve done that, he’ll let you walk right up and take Demonbrandt. It’s one of the best weapons in the game and certainly worth the trouble, but you’ll do fine without it as well. If you really are evil and want to kill him after he was kind enough to give you a new sword, you’ll be rewarded with his armor and the “Eternal Warriors Ring”, which increases stamina recovery rate. Take it from me though, you’ll want to leave him till last, as he’s incredibly hard to beat.
Each world has a Primeval Demon, which will appear in specific locations slightly before Black World Tendency. They will also appear when pure black world tendency has been achieved. Primeval Demons are for the most part harmless, but if you stand in front of the demon’s mouth, it will bite. Killing them will raise the world’s tendency and the demon will drop a colorless demon soul, which can be used to upgrade special weapons. Personally, I think finding and killing these demons is a little too much hassle considering that you don’t entirely need their souls, but if you like to be evil, and your world tendency is quite black, seek them out.
Miralda is King Allant’s personal executioner and a morbid stain on the Kingdom of Boletaria. Notorious for her brutality and lack of compassion, and unyielding devotion to the king even in his demonic state. She appears in two forms: normal or “alive” Miralda and the black phantom version. The latter can be fought only when world tendency is pure black.
To fight her you’ll simply have to obtain pure white world tendency in stage 1-1. This can be achieved quite easily by defeating the Phalanx and then the Tower Knight; the first two bosses in the level. After they’ve been defeated, the world tendency should be white enough for you to access the area where she resides. The gate to her area is near the archstone at the beginning on 1-1, and is not hard to find. Look to the left wall until you see the passage, it’ll lead on to a rather imposing execution area with guillotines to boot.
This area is filled with black phantom dredglings; they’re not too hard to beat but they will attack you in numbers of 4 or 5 at a time, and they’re much more powerful than the pathetic ones you encounter earlier in the game, so be on your guard. Once you’ve defeated them you can proceed along a fairly obvious path towards a tower entrance. This is the disposal chute for all the dead bodies Miralda took pleasure in beheading. It’s quite dark in there so don’t rush in or you’ll fall about 500ft to your death. Miralda herself will be hiding on the right side of the entrance, just out of sight, ready for an ambush. She’s deadly, quick and rather annoying but the tactics required for beating her are no different than the normal enemies, you just need to make sure you don’t get boxed in a corner or run out of healing items. If you defeat her you’ll be rewarded with her armor set and a master’s ring, while defeating her in black phantom form will get you her precious little guillotine axe as a trophy piece.
So there you go, there you have it, newbreview.com’s definitive guide to beating Demon’s Souls, it’s been emotional. We’ve covered everything from the basics, a break down of every boss (including the optional ones), the secrets to item use and management AND an explanation of World Tendency. Everything you need to know, so go out and get slaying some demons!
- Adam Radcliffe