Demon's Souls Retrospective

Eurogamer's Jeffrey Matulef has published a retrospective article on Demon's Souls, From Software's cult PlayStation 3-exclusive action-RPG and spiritual predecessor to the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne. He ultimately concludes that the game is fresher and more surprising than both the Dark Souls titles, and while I'm not sure I fully agree with that, I can't help but smile at some of the examples he brings up:

Demon's Souls is also a much stranger and more surprising game than its Namco-published successors. It switches its mechanics up on a you a lot more than other Souls titles and nowhere is this more prevalent than in its incredibly varied rogue's gallery of bosses. In a really audacious move, many of its highest-ranking demons are intentionally wimpy by design. One is placed beside a gargantuan sword that rips the sky to pieces, another is defeated by interacting with the scenery after some survival-based puzzling, and another actually commits suicide if you defeat her lover. Even the grande finale is a wonderfully subversive anticlimax where you've valiantly fought for dozens of hours to face off against the demon god The Old One only to find a sad and pathetic creature inside in need of being put out of its misery. Like Shadow of the Colossus before it or The Last of Us after it, there's a palpable sense of pathos and pity surrounding some of Demon's Souls' most corrupt denizens.

As much as I've been enjoying Dark Souls 2 and its add-ons, I can't help but feel that ploughing through its colossal landscape feels a little workmanlike. The combat is still rock solid and the world remains interesting, but it doesn't have that unconventional spark of Demon's Souls. That NPC who you think you'll be rewarded for rescuing only to discover that he starts murdering the game's most essential characters; the boss who respawns infinitely unless you do something else to make her mortal; the boss that's actually another player plucked from their world and summoned into yours with the sole objective of killing you... These are the flourishes of legend. It makes Hideo Kojima's madcap meta sensibilities look tame, and while the Dark Souls games tried to capture this spirit, neither successor quite nailed that impermeable feeling that Demon's brought to the table over five years ago.