There's a long-standing tradition in games that you only get a certain number of chances to fulfill your objective before having to either use a continue (and lose much progress) or start over entirely if you run out of those, too. While this conceit has fallen to the wayside in recent years, games up to and including the PS2-era followed the construct of only allowing a player a certain number of lives, and when the counter hit zero that was it, you had to start the game from the beginning. The advent of automatic save points in every game pushed this aside, to the relief of many a long-time gamer tired of losing all their progress to one super-difficult point. If there was one boon to this system, it was that as your remaining lives ticked lower, you became increasingly cautious and careful, and maybe played the game a little better than you would have otherwise.
When they made Demon's Souls, Atlus decided they'd had quite enough of that bullshit. From now on, if you die, the game gets harder.
|"What is that, happiness? That won't do."|
Demon's Souls is a game that punishes you for being bad at it. It punishes you for being mediocre at it. If you're good enough to actually make it to a boss, it punishes you for that, too. I've played games that were hard. I've played games where the designers clearly wanted to push you and make you a better player. It's not accurate to say Demon's Souls has a steep learning curve. Demon's Souls is the Chinese-facing side of K2. This game straight up does not want you to win and will do what it has to so as to ensure you lose.
|That's not even getting into New Game+.|
As you might imagine, this one has been on my Backlog for awhile, and not because I bought it and forgot about it. It's because in any one sitting, I can only take so much humiliating death before the hope is ground out of me and distilled into the fine humors from which Demon's Souls extracts its nutrients. The makers of this game looked at the average number of deaths in Aztec rituals honoring Quetzacoatl and said, "Well there's our baseline." The people who thought up Demon's Souls have less remorse than John Wayne Gacy on mescaline, and are exactly as excited about killing you.
So over the last couple years since its release, I've made several serious efforts at Atlus's opus to difficulty, and each time I've made it just a little bit further, yet have been unable to reach the final boss. As it stands right now, I'm at a point where I've got three stages left uncleared, and if I can conquer them I'll finally have a shot at beating the whole game. Unfortunately, I've hit another bump as I keep dying at the exact same spot over and over again every time. While I deal with that, I figured now would be a pretty good time to examine how I got this far to begin with.