People that make bold statements, no matter how bold they may be, have to be 100% behind it. It is almost like when your son or daughter is about to cycle without stabilisers for the first time. You just know that if you don’t have that total belief or support for what you’re doing then it can all fall apart quite easily. Knowing that I’m leaving myself open to a lot of young folks going on about how this is preposterous, I go in after levelling up for about 3 years, to keep in check with this particular game.
I genuinely think that From Software’s Demons Souls is a hugely important game in terms of how the games industry is at the moment. I do have reasons for this, obviously and I shall go through them as much as I possibly can. The main reason is that this particular piece of software has shown that the backbone of good old fashioned gaming in that a game from the last few generations can last more than a New Years gym membership. A lot of titles that come out nowadays either rely on a predictable multiplayer or some downloadable content that will hide the fact you’re just playing the same deathmatch with a change of clothes. What Demon’s (and Dark) Souls does is give you a nice, simple gaming mechanic and it allows you the freedom to just get on with it by not only having a non linear ethos behind it, but also, as everyone knows, a bloody hard difficulty level. The fact a game is very well revered for being insanely hard is testament to what the art of gaming can do to you.
Another reason is that this is a game that has managed to integrate enough online ideas to make it a great addition rather than a bolted on hindrance. Mixing it with a colleague stuck in the same place or fighting against another soul to get yourself resurrected can be quite exciting, not to mention the bloodstain death warnings and helpful messages that never look so out of place is something of beauty. It shows that the internet can be used in our industry to really enhance without being overpowering. Another example of this from a bygone era was when the Dreamcast did Ferrari F355 Challenge where the online mode was the replay times and they were shown in a race with everyone in shadow cars doing their laps. It made for some tense moments, but again never really did an overkill on the way things were done.
I think the greatest thing about the Souls series is the fact that when it all started, these games were never released through a fanfare or some massively overused marketing ploy. All it did was exist over in the land of the rising sun, almost like it was tempting players from other shores to have a go or even raise a little intrigue. The last time for me that a game just appeared and really took the world by surprise (well, my world) was the original Medal of Honor. We all know what those guys ended up doing (Call of Duty and Titanfall for those that don’t) but it was also something that just simply turned up. These games were a bit like Susan Boyle, in that they were there, but you weren’t prepared for the greatness that was about to be bestowed upon you. I genuinely think that the Souls series is one of the strongest there has been in many a generation, let alone year. Some might say Mass Effect, Gears of War and CoD or what have you, but here is the key thing. What we have here is consistency and that is a rare thing indeed. The fact three games in the collection have come and gone and we are still looking for more shows how good they are and this is only a good thing.
These three things are the reason why this game is horrendously important to the way the industry is heading. We needed a game that bucked the trend of customers being ripped off with both content and quality. DLC is becoming a money making corner cut that can for the most part be justified, but sometimes be overpriced garbage which does not fill the player with joy. From Software gave us a simple idea with a sturdy playing style and the ultimate “one more go” vibe and that is something that has been slowly decaying from the games industry for a long, long while.
Demon’s Souls has saved our own from boredom. Long may it continue.