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Demon's Souls Travel Log: Phalanx'd

Wherein I divide and conquer.

Previously in the Travel Log: I took my first steps into the punishing world of Demon's Souls. You can read about my missteps here.

Okay, I’m back, and this time, no rolling off of ledges for me! I’m online this time, and already this is making for a very different experience. Watching how other players died by clicking on bloodstains is one part helpful and two parts creepy, since you can’t see what killed them. Some of the messages are really handy, but I can already see that there are plenty of notes intended to screw me over. Like Stone Cold Steve Austin, I’m gonna have to D.T.A.

I’m having to fight all the enemies I killed. It’s going faster this time, though; it helps knowing where the enemies pop up. I’m also seriously “gaming” the system by trying to coax enemies towards me one at a time without triggering their buddies. It’s still kind of tense, but I’m getting close to where I died, and then I can reclaim the souls that I lost.

Oh, hell. The souls that I lost. I fell off of a ledge! There’s no way I can get those souls back! Wait, what’s that weird glowy bloodstain? Reclaim souls? Oh, cool, they moved my bloodstain near the ledge that I fell off of. That seems far too nice for this game. And I thought that I had made it way further than this last time. Well, cool, I guess now I’m making progress over the other night.

I’m still taking it slow, but I’m not running into too much trouble. I think I’m starting to understand this game. When there’s a blind corner, there’s almost always an ambush, so the best thing to do is take a step into the room and then roll backwards. I actually like not having a map; it forces me to really learn the area. But the game is so open that it’s hard to know where I’m supposed to go. So far, I haven’t been given a task; I’m just walking around killing things.

Uh-oh…an enemy that I haven’t seen before, and he looks tough. I think I’ll nuke him with my fire spell. 127 damage and he’s still alive?! Crapcrapcrapcrap! And my sword is doing very little damage. Whew! I made it, but he almost killed me. Note to self: two fire spells next time.

There’s a note on the ground on this ledge that says “Attack!”. But attack what? Oh, there’s a couple of chains here. I honestly don’t think I would have noticed them if I hadn’t seen that note. But nothing happened after breaking them. I went down a staircase (carefully, so as not to fall again) and I opened up a gate, but I’m back where I started. Oh well, I guess I’ll go back to the Nexus and spend some of these souls.

Okay, I got some healing items, and I think I know where to go. There was a doorway near that tough enemy. I’ll just run up that newly made shortcut, and…and all the enemies respawned?? To quote Darth Vader, nooooooo! Fine, I’ll suck it up and kill that dude again. Two fire spells this time. Here goes one, and now…he used a healing item. Holy hell, the enemies use healing items! That is really low, From Software. I’m getting hit hard, but I think I can beat him. Whew!

Up and around, kill, kill, kill, block, block, block. There’s another note here that says “Attack!”, so I will. Ha ha! I just released a bunch of boulders that rolled right over a whole platoon of undead. That was really satisfy—shh! There’s a dragon sleeping on a hill! I’ve heard about the dragon in Demon’s Souls, and I don’t want to go anywhere near it. But I can only go straight. Even though he’s far away and asleep, I’m super scared. This game is, in some ways, far more scary and stressful than a Silent Hill game.

Somehow, the psychic detection powers that I have given that dragon in my imagination didn’t tip him off to my presence. Good! There’s a bridge up ahead and…WAAAGH! The dragon woke up and it’s blitzing the bridge! In the words of King Arthur, RUN AWAY! I’ll just go this other way. This other way, that leads right to the perch where the dragon was, er, is sleeping. So, two dragons. Two effing dragons, and this is level one. Nice, From. Really nice.

Nothing to be done about it; I have to go over the bridge. It seems like the dragon has a pattern. If I run like mad after he flies away I should have just enough time to make it across. Here. We. Go! Runrunrunrunrunrunrun…I can’t believe that actually worked! Mwah, ha ha!

It’s a good thing I keep my shield up, because this game is really dark, and some…thing just fired at me. Luckily, I blocked it with my shield and torched it with a fire spell. I flipped a switch, and that opened the huge gate at the end of the starting area. I’ll bet you anything that’s where I fight a boss. And I bet it’s that huge metal knight that I kept seeing in coverage of the game.

The hints say to use flame weapons on the next monster. I have some turpentine that gives my sword fire damage, as well as some fire bombs and my trusty fire spell. Let me heal up, take a deep breath, and go on in.

Not the big knight, after all. It’s a big, black blob called Phalanx. It’s a good name; it is covered in smaller blobs that have big shields and have spears. I think this is the shadowy thing I killed earlier. I’ve got this, no problem. Since there are so many of these things, and they are obviously protecting the main body, I think it’s firebombs for everyone! That seemed to work well, but it’s closing in on me. Let me run around a bit. Oh, there’s a message on the floor here. “Now is not the time to be reading messages!” Oh, fun-ny!

I’ve taken out a lot of the smaller enemies. Time to close in for some big damage. The turpentine really does the trick; each slash takes off a big chunk from his HP. I’m taking hits too, though. Let me back up and heal. He’s almost dead. It would be crazy if I beat this guy without dying. And…he’s down! I did it! I beat the first boss in one try! That may be the first time I actually cared when a PS3 trophy popped up, too. Man, this game isn’t nearly as rough as people say! Onward!

Next: Overconfidence



Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

10/06/2011 at 01:56 AM

I'm so conflicted. This travel log made this game sound so f-ing cool but Nick's review made me think this would best be suited as a rental. On one hand, hard games frustrate the hell out of me. They piss me off and I usually end up rage quiting them. On the other hand, some games that are hard I still enjoy because they don't feel cheap and the core mechanics are wonderful. 'Splosion Man comes to mind in that respect.

Nick DiMola Director

10/06/2011 at 08:28 AM

I like tough games myself, but Demon's Souls always felt cheap. And it was really slow moving. Get too ambitious and you're dead. Like Julian said, he found himself stepping into new areas and immediately rolling back, just to trigger the enemies.

To me, that feels like bad game design. At that point, you have to game the system to succeed. If he would've went in without a care, he'd have likely been killed. Perhaps the game just wore down my patience, but after about 10 hours of that overly cautious kind of playing, I was done. The whole thing felt like an exercise in frustration to me.

The problem is only expounded when you know you could easily pop the game out and have immediate fun with something else. Maybe other people like working for their fun more than I do in games, but titles like this don't do it for me.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

10/07/2011 at 11:16 PM

So far, I haven't felt like my deaths have been cheap. It's a school of hard knocks, and in that way it reminds me of some of my favorite NES games. When I rolled off the ledge, I was shocked, and I realized just how many games these days make it so that you can't fall to your death. I'm looking forward to playing more of it, and the travel log is very fun to write.

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