I'd hoped that Demon's Souls would be a goldmine for this blog, rife with metaphor about frustration, imbalance, and loss, and I suppose it could have been if I'd just never played it.
It turns out we've become so accustomed to the coddling of games designed to smoothly progress from point A to point B to point Buy the Sequel that a little bit of learning curve seems daunting.
The problem isn't Demon's Souls...It's us. If you still haven't played it, you really should.
Below are my responses to some common reasons people cite when in angst or awe of this game's supposed outrageous difficulty:
If you die, you lose all your souls (spent on leveling and as money)
Retrace your steps to the bloodstain which appears about 5 seconds from where you were standing and you can have them back.
Also, you don't lose any items including the "canned souls" strewn about the game.
Lots of guys can kill you with one or two hits
Good thing you've got infinite continues! Lesson learned? See above.
At any time, other people can come into your game and kill you
Only other people at comparable levels, only one at a time, only in certain areas, and only while you are "alive" and they are "in soul form," meaning their hit points are halved. And if they don't succeed, they'll go down a level.
Oh and that whole "alive" thing...yeah it doesn't happen too often.
But I don't want to be in soul form! I've only got half my health!
Or volunteer to help someone else kill a boss. Or go kill a boss yourself. Just keep stuffing watercress in your mouth and you'll be fine. Or use one of those magic rocks! Rare and valuable resource, you say? Pah, I've got 30 in my Thomas!
But seriously. Cling ring.
You can't pause!
"oh honey, I would love to look at those baby pictures with you, but you know this crazy game I'm playing won't let me pause! I told you about that right? Isn't it crazy?!?"
I think that just about covers it. True, there are some dick moves the game will pull, like making you struggle to earn magic swords you're not strong enough to wield, or letting Yurt the Silent Chief kill all your Nexus pals, but he likely won't take out anyone that important, and would anyone really miss this prick?
And on the flip side, how many games give you experience points when bad guys fall off a cliff?