Demon’s Souls, Briefly

978 wc

As I wait for my hands and fingers and thumbs to regenerate themselves, which is taking forever-frankly at this point I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever be able to play an action game with a controller ever again-I thought I would try to injure my hands more by typing up a bit about Demon’s Souls.

If nothing else, The Nexus has a lot more artistic style than Firelink Shrine.

I’ve wanted to play Demon’s Souls ever since I played Dark Souls, three years ago. It’s taken me three full years to a) buy the game, b) unpack my PS3 and plug it in, and c) buy a Razer Ripsaw and also plug it in to record the PS3 gameplay. As I was nearing the end of my time with Dark Souls Remastered, I finally put all the pieces together and got everything running.

My save file says I’ve played Demon’s Souls for six hours. Defeating the Tower Knight, the second boss, was the last thing I did before abandoning the game to put my hands on full bed rest. (Not counting the tutorial boss, which I think by design is supposed to kill you. It definitely killed me. It turns out if you manage to kill the tutorial boss, you die in a cut scene afterward anyway.)

The Tower Knight, whose main attack is slowing the game's frame rate to a crawl.

If you’re a Dark Souls player, it’s an interesting game to study because it’s essentially the prototype game for Dark Souls. The “early access” version of Dark Souls, if you will. Demon’s Souls is a Sony exclusive, so they couldn’t make Dark Souls a direct sequel. It’s more like a port, they just changed the maps and all (or most) of the names around to protect the innocent. For example, the consumable to add fire damage to your weapon is called Turpentine in Demon’s Souls, but it’s called Charcoal Pine Resin in Dark Souls. It works exactly the same.

The lore has a different feel. Demon’s Souls seems like more of a “real” setting, whereas Dark Souls has more of a … I don’t know … mysterious, surreal setting. Dark Souls is set in a sort of astral plane or possibly even an afterlife that shifts and changes (that’s how I think of it, at least), whereas Demon’s Souls is set in a real (ie. fantasy) kingdom of Boletaria. That’s my impression, anyway. I haven’t read any of the deep dives on the lore, and won’t until or unless I finish the game.

It’s also interesting to see that each successive version of Dark Souls brought back more and more concepts from Demon’s Souls. Dark Souls II added back the concept of dying reducing your health pool, and Dark Souls III added back the “mana” bar.

Unfortunately I have to play Demon’s Souls offline, because they shut down the servers earlier this year. It’s weird not seeing all the player messages and ghosts and blood stains. There were some scripted “fake” player ghosts in the tutorial, though, which was kind of funny.

One name \*not\* changed. I haven't seen him yet but the loading screen says he's out there somewhere!

It’s a fun game but I don’t know if I’ll finish it. Besides stopping to avoid holding controllers for a while, I also stopped because I’m finding that it runs abysmally slow on my PS3. Maybe I’m just used to PC games running at 60 fps or even 144 fps now, and I’ve simply forgotten what a game that runs at 30 fps or less feels like. It feels terrible. It feels like I’m playing over a 14.4k modem connection. That’s not very fun in an action game and it’ll drive me batty, especially in the inevitable tough boss fights that require perfect timing.

The Tower Knight boss was the last straw. I swear the game was only running about 10 fps during that boss fight. It was awful. Maybe it’s my PS3. I don’t know. Mine’s a PS3 Slim I think, so maybe I don’t have enough memory, or all the mice turning the wheels inside died while it was in storage for some four years. (I kind of thought all the PS3 models were all the same, though, and that was the entire point of consoles in the first place.)

I’m going to try one more thing before I give up: I might be experiencing some lag because of the Razer Ripsaw video input. The other main thing I wanted to do with Demon’s Souls is record it (I’m only going to play it once). So I have the component video output from the PS3 running into the Razer Ripsaw, and I’m playing the game by watching the OBS Preview window on the PC output. Maybe there’s just too much of a delay there. I ordered a $7 component video splitter cable so I can try watching the game on the television while recording on the PC.

Surely the optimal way to view and play console games.

I don’t think it’s going to help, because I tried playing while watching the HDMI output going directly into my television, and it still felt slow to me. But $7 is cheap enough to give it a shot.

Perhaps someday I’ll be able to setup the RPCS3 emulator on my PC and continue the game with that. However the process of copying the game disc to the PC is rather challenging, to say the least, considering that it involves either buying a compatible Blu-ray drive, or installing some kind of homebrew OS thing on the PS3. Both of which sound like they’ll be considerably more than $7 worth of hassle.

It’s kind of a bummer if I have to abandon it, but at least I finally got a chance to see a little bit of it.

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