Demon’s Souls vs Dark Souls: Umbasa or Praise the Sun?

March 6, 2014 12:29 pm

demon souls vs dark soulsIt is now March 2014, and all eyes turn to the much anticipated video game release for the Xbox 360, PS4 and PC, Dark Souls 2! Judging by the trailers and the demo footage, it seems like we know what to expect from this new addition to the Souls series: Brutal difficulty with some of the most compelling narrative and creative gameplay seen yet. But before we look to the future, let us look back at the two games that started it all: Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. Both of these games have held up very well, still being played even though the next generation consoles have been released. But which of the two can be considered the superior?

Story: Both Demon’s and Dark Souls have vast universes, and we always seem to arrive in the aftermath of a crisis. The story is not just handed to us easily by exposition or simple advancing of the plot, but we learn of it through collecting as many items as possible, exploring the world to find as many NPCs as possible to gain different perspectives on events. This greatly increases shelf life as it seems that for every play through there are new things to discover. While in Demon’s Souls we enter a land that is infested by demons and engulfed in a colourless fog, in Dark Souls we are set free from a prison, to explore the land of Lordran and fulfil a certain prophecy. Both plots are engaging, but Dark Souls has a lot more depth to its story. Demon’s Souls has enough, but the story and lore doesn’t really escape past the small description of each checkpoint. Dark Souls on the other hand has such an expansive backstory that even now many players debate on amongst each other. 1-0 to Dark Souls.

demon soulsGame Mechanics: At a glance, Dark Souls should win by default: Dark Souls’ mechanics and animations are smoother, while Demon’s Souls feels more improvised and unbalanced. By one playthrough of the Dark Souls story, you should be able to design a character build to play with for the next run. For Demon’s Souls, it can take a very long time to get used to everything, since each statistic has its pros and cons- For example, going for a Magic-based character seems ideal, however there are two stats you need to level up-Magic and Intelligence- and there are not many weapons that scale well with any of them. Also, Demon’s Souls has a limit on what you can equip and what you can hold in items. Dark Souls only has an equipment burden. So based on ease of use alone, Dark Souls should win. However the main purpose of these games is to create as challenging an experience as possible.  And working with game mechanics that feel more improvised and unbalanced certainly creates a more challenging experience, when the player has to work with a system that does not exactly work well in turn. So based on meeting the purpose of both games alone, point goes to Demon’s Souls.

Experience of gaming: Demon’s Souls is much more difficult in its dungeons, with easier bosses save for a select few, Dark Souls has easier dungeons but with harder bosses, with some that almost always need a phantom helping you to defeat them. The ‘bonfires’ where the player can replenish health, item count and set a checkpoint certainly helps to immerse you into the wide world of the game. Especially since nearly all of the areas seem to connect: For example, you can see one of the areas when you look down from the first bonfire in another. It’s a magnificent view, and it helps to connect the whole world of the game together. However what Demon’s Souls lack in immersion, since the dungeons are separated from each other by the hub of the Nexus, it makes for in creating atmosphere. There are just certain levels of Demon’s Souls that just instantly hits you in the gut with its mere design. For example, the dungeon 3-2. If you ever find yourself playing in this dungeon, stay awhile, and take a moment to look around at the whole setting. The giant, monstrous heart in the biggest tower, the buildings that seem to stand in angles that defy physics…it’s hard to believe that this could have been anything else before. Dark Souls gives off a feeling of nostalgia what once was, but Demon’s Souls has a constant spirit of ruination and desolation. Everything just looks and feels broken and lost.

dark soulsWith the music, the Demon’s Souls soundtrack comes out to be superior as every piece of music just seems to fit the boss it is associated with, from the rumbling, ominous drum roll of Dragon God, to the calm but unhinged and creepy piano and violins of Fool’s Idol, symbolic of the twisted glory of the Tower of Latria. When I think of Dark Souls music, it’s not terrible; in fact it can be downright majestic, such as the Four Kings, Ornstein and Smough, and the background music to Ash Lake. However it all does sound the same, with nearly all soundtracks having a choir in the background.

And finally, the multi-player. Dark Souls does not really differ in the multi-player side from Demon’s Souls: Either you can summon people into your game to help you, and you can be summoned in the same way, or you can invade another’s world and defeat them to gain an assortment of prizes. In Dark Souls, there are also NPCs that can stand in as phantoms in the rare event that the player is not online, or no one is available. Demon’s Souls has the same system, but is a little more restricted in how you can become a phantom of summon them. Only in Soul form can a person become a helping or invading phantom. However, it does take a step beyond and use multi-player in new and innovative ways. For example, there is a chance that a human player can become the boss of a dungeon itself, truly a masterpiece in weaving single and multi-player together.

To conclude, Demon’s Souls is a lot more innovative, has much more ideas, and is the harder game in the long run. However, half of these ideas, namely the Soul and World Tendency mechanics do not work as well as intended, or perhaps they would with enough people playing the game, a problem not helped with Demon’s Souls’ exclusivity to the PS3. Dark Souls, although not as risk-taking as its predecessor, guarantees that everything left within is improved and fashioned into a superior form. Point goes to Dark Souls, which takes the title of the better game!

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