Souls games have, predominantly, been a blind spot for me. I played through Mortal Shell for a review last year, sure, but the actual FromSoft games have long been something I've admired from afar.
I played half an hour of Demon's Souls back in the day on PS3, and barely made a dent in Bloodborne. I got past the tutorial of Sekiro, but made my peace with the fact the genre wasn't for me.
Last night, that changed.
Demon's Souls Has Me Hooked, And That's Fine With Me
When my PS5 arrived last year, I vowed to give Demon's Souls a 'proper' try. I was going to jump in with both feet - after all, where better to start than at the beginning?
After climbing my way up the Gates of Boletaria a few times, and getting a little disoriented looking for a way through, I let it fall onto my backlog when the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 rolled around.
Still, I picked it up again last night, and after a few attempts, made it to an area I'd never reached before (still very early in the level).
Feeling cocky, I approached a stone bridge, sword in one hand and shield in the other. I avoided incoming archer fire, and prepared to strike - before a Dragon swooped overhead and began to burn the bridge.
I just about made it back to the start of the bridge as it crispy-fried the enemies, and I took an alternate route.
There, I found, well, two dragons. Both perched atop a hill, both looking for their next victim. I tiptoed along a cliff edge, grabbed some items from a poor soul that maybe hadn't been as quiet, and then fled back to the bridge - and got across.
All of this is to say that Demon's Souls made me feel tenser than I'd felt in a while. Moving on, I finally opened the huge gates to the next area, and bumped into bizarre slime monsters carrying shields.
That feeling of having no idea what's around the next corner, the trepidation of what environmental hazards are to come, and my frantic clicking of the camera lock to locate any movement all combined to push me into facing the game's first boss - the Phalanx.
Made up of dozens of those shield monsters all clubbed together, the Phalanx at first felt like an impossible task. My sword was bouncing off them, and I was being turned into a pincushion every time I got close.
Running out of ideas, I turned to the notes that other players had scrawled on the floor. "Fire is the best way," one said.
I threw some firebombs at the unsettling mess of slime and steel, and then lit up my sword to go to town on it. I beat it on my first try.
This isn't me saying I'm good at the game, and this isn't me saying it was easy. More that I took on every lesson I'd learned in the hours prior to overcome something I had no idea how to beat just moments before.
And, as I'm told, that's the magic of Demon's Souls. And I don't want to turn back now.