I’ve been slowly working my way through Demon’s Souls, Atlus’s third person Action/RPG on the PS3, for a couple of weeks now. I really want to like this game, so much so that I keep coming back to it like some self-loathing masochist, even after throwing the controller across the room in a fit of technocidal rage. I actually threw the controller. I’ve been playing video games all my life and had never succumbed to such a fit.
I keep coming back because the “Game of the Year” and “RPG of the Year” awards make me feel like there’s something wrong with me if I don’t like the game. The 5 star, 9.5-out-of-10 reviews tell me I should enjoy being immersed in this frustrating binary prison of recurrent death.
One might argue that I’m simply bad at the game, and maybe that’s true. Unfortunately, I like being good at the things I do, so that leaves me coming back for more, wondering if maybe I could tweak this or approach the challenge from a different angle. This tweaking and changing of play style leads to tweaked and changed methods of excruciating character death, as I see hours of playtime and soul collecting wiped away in a single misstep.
Don’t get me wrong. All those hot reviews and awards are certainly deserved. It’s a beautiful game. Or at least I’m pretty sure it’s a beautiful game. The sections of levels I see as I run back and forth between the Nexus and my bloodstain look beautiful. The pictures that I see online as I search for why I keep dying a gruesome, premature death are stunning. There certainly is an unexplainable allure that has me itching to pop in the disk even as I write about the vexation that awaits me if I do. But hey, maybe if I use a longsword instead of a scimitar on that last enemy, I’ll be able to get back to my bloodstain and regain some of my lost souls, if not the lost hours spent playing this game…