I may or may not have mentioned it yesterday, but I received my copy of Demon’s Souls through the mail. Sadly, I only played a bit of it because Infamous needed to be played some more. Still, I got through the tutorial (which ended with me dying, which I suppose is appropriate) into the first hub (I think). It controls just a bit floatily, but I can see how strategic the fights will be. There’s a lot of options for dodging, parrying, and otherwise avoiding or repelling attacks. I like the sword combat (and backstabs!) a lot. The bow and arrow felt clumsy, but I only got off one shot, so we’ll see. I was playing a thief, so I’ve no idea what the magic is like.
It was pretty, in a dank (not Fallout 3 or Jericho but more like a slightly moody take on LotR?) kind of way, and I like all of the animations (outrageously “physics-y” tumble/death animations are hilarious and fun). The voice acting is pretty good. It’s hilarious to me how a game about a random hero conquering a bunch of demons has better voice acting in its intro cutscene than Infamous has had yet. Sad. Oh, and the character creation is weird and amusing. You can alter the face in a lot of ways, it’s up there with Oblivion or Mass Effect in some ways. It also includes the strange “sex” slider, which slides your face along a long gradient from “male” to “female.” It doesn’t make much sense in any particular way, with males having smaller noses and females having puffy, paler faces. Okee-dokee? It also includes a face meter which allows you to set your face by where it’s “from.” I dunno if the directions they used reference Japanese ethnic divisions or global “categories” (I think it’s the latter), but the results are a bit ridiculous. There’s East, which looks like a pale person, and West, which looks like a chubbier pale person. South looks darker, North looks super-pale, and there are a few more I can’t remember. Suffice it to say, I’m not sure what they’re trying to emulate, but it all ends up looking bad. If you thought the creation system in Oblivion could create some otherworldly features, try this game. I ended up creating a spiky-haired young woman who was only mildly Morlock-like, which suited me. The classes all look pretty different, but I created a thief so I could backstab more, if that’s possible. The text in game is all in English, as is the dialogue and subtitles, but the thick manual is in Japanese. Curses!
Now that the general stuff is out of the way, here’s my initial gameplay impressions. The combat is, as mentioned before, deep, and I think that I’ll be backstabbing (really well-animated) a lot. Enemies are vicious, and they attack quickly. You have to learn their moves ASAP, so you can counter and kill them. Never forget that the menu does not pause the game. I was stupidly explaining the game to Owen, in-menu, when a demon-zombie came up and backstabbed me almost to death. Scared me a bit and made me remember the no-pause “feature.” I like the dark, foggy fantasy castle they had me in, and I liked the boss (of the tutorial?) even better. He was this huge horned dude with a giant axe (I think?).
I’d mastered dodging and backstepping by then, so he and I danced around his chamber for a bit. I kept on trying to kill him (difficult, because this was when I began to accidentally “lunge attack” a lot. A good attack for First-Striking weaker units, but inadvisable against bosses, it would seem), but eventually he hit me with the axe once, knocked off half of my health, and while I was down, killed me for good. I was worried I’d have to do the tutorial over, but I woke up in the spirit “Nexus” which is where dead spirits go, I guess? I’m hoping I can level up and pick up some items and then go back (in ghost form!) to get my body and attending demon’s souls.
That all may sound rather fiddly and technical, but the game makes you think that way, and its not at all onerous. You just quickly learn that the game has very strict rules in place, and if you don’t completely master them, you’ll die. It makes you very attentive, and it was fun, for the limited time I played it. Listen to what all of the reviews say. When you die, you know why, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ll just die, and it’ll be damn quick.
More tonight, if a game of Citadels doesn’t interfere. Shit I should write about Citadels. Until then.