Granted: Normally the launch titles for a new console are quite easy. There are also positive exceptions, as Demon's Souls for PS5 proves in our review. If you haven't played it, definitely give it a shot.
"Hey, let's make a game that's so damn hard that even pros are biting their teeth out of it." Okay, we don't know if the Japanese developer studio From Software really ever came to this statement during the development of Demon's Souls. What we do know, however, is that the re-release of the action RPG for PS5 not only marks the best start title of the next-gen console but is a feast for genre fans that no one should miss.
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Demon's Souls: The Mother of All Soulslikes
Everybody knows Dark Souls by now. The rock-hard action RPG series from From Software has enjoyed cult status for years and is idolized by its fans. However, the question remains what fun it is to die hundreds of times and defeat the same enemies over and over again.
I honestly admit it: For a long time, I avoided the brutally heavy action role-playing games. I've read about the hype in social networks, which never disappeared. And then? Then the PS4 exclusive title Bloodborne (also from From Software) came around the corner and played itself right into my heart.
And so it happened that I learned to appreciate the Souls-like genre, made up for all three Dark Souls parts, and played pretty much every game that hit this notch anyway. With the exception of Demon's Souls - the origin of the genre, which started in 2009 on the PlayStation 3.
With the launch of PlayStation 5, the title returns as a complete remake, and the Bluepoint Games developers specializing in re-releases, who have already given us the first-class Shadow of the Colossus, have once again outdone themselves.
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Dying, Cursing, Celebrating: This is Demon's Souls
As a veteran of the genre, I now have a similar advantage to those who played the original back then: I know what to expect. If you dare to dance your first dance with the RPG with Demon's Souls for PS5, you will be brought back mercilessly to the hard ground of facts.
The Souls-like titles are not easy on newcomers. Although you can string together more screen deaths in just a few hours than in all Super Mario games combined, you don't need a masochistic streak to have fun with the game.
In Demon's Souls you will die. Often. Sometimes even every minute. At least until you have perfected the game's mechanics.
Born in a time when video games slowly threatened to mutate into the Nickelback of the rock scene (i.e. to become effeminate), Demon's Souls went the exact opposite way and cried fervently: "I AM HEAVY AND THIS IS GOOD!"
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Demon's Souls is not only brutally heavy, but it is also always extremely fair - and this is exactly what makes it so special. There are never design flaws or exaggerated fights that lead to your demise.
The fault is always yours. If you approach your opponents in the game attentively, internalize their movements, and are willing to learn more, you will be rewarded. You as a player will always grow beyond yourself as the game progresses and this feeling is - as every Souls fan can confirm - simply overwhelming.
What Makes it Different?
Demon's Souls for PlayStation 5 is also the perfect entry point into the genre. Compared to its indirect successors, the RPG does not unsuspectingly throw you into an open world. The lynchpin is the so-called Nexus, a hub level from which you explore the five extensive areas of the game.
They are very different from each other, both in terms of gameplay and appearance, and thanks to the hardware power of the PlayStation 5, they look breathtaking in places. The lighting effects in combination with the already gloomy atmosphere create a scary mood and a racing heart.
To make a long story short: Demon's Souls is technically a force to be reckoned with and impresses with its immersive graphics, smooth frame rate and excellent soundtrack.
At its core it is a classic role-playing game: You fight enemies, collect experience points, and level up to increase your stats like vitality or strength. At the end of each level, there is also a huge boss opponent waiting to murder you horribly. So far, so good.
What's different: After each death, you find yourself at the beginning of the level and all the enemies you've killed are back to life. Nevertheless, an unsuccessful attempt in Demon's Souls was never in vain and rewards you with shortcuts, new armor, or additional items.
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Frustration and bliss are closer together in Demon's Souls and other genre-representatives than in any other game. You collect souls, which you need for the enhancement of your character and represent your accumulated experience. When you die, you lose all souls at the place of your death and have only one attempt to get them back.
Believe me when I say that sometimes I would have loved to throw my new DualSense controller against the nearest wall. On the other hand, there is no more satisfying feeling in the video game world than to see a boss finally lying in the dirt after the tenth attempt.
Once you have accepted the game principle of Demon's Souls, you will definitely not breeze through the PS5 game. Worry not though as even when you're done with it there are still other launch titles like Sackboy or The Pathless.
Dare to play this game! Those who, like me, have been put off for years by the brutally high difficulty level of the soul-like titles, will forego what is perhaps the most fascinating gaming experience the medium of video games has to offer.
Demon's Souls for PlayStation 5 is not only the ideal entry point for newcomers but also a prime example of what a remake should look like. It's the best possible homage to the original, noticeably improving the original in just the right places. Demon's Souls looks impressive, sounds fantastic, and plays as smooth as butter. This game should not be missing in any PS5 game collection.
Original article by EarlyGame's Philipp Briel.