Released on the PS3 two years before the seminal Dark Souls – which went on to influence a whole sub-genre – Demon’s Souls is the true forefather of “Souls-likes”. For more casual SoulsBorne fans and newcomers to the series who want to play something fresh to put their PlayStation 5 to the test, the upcoming remake will be a new – yet familiar – adventure in FromSoft’s challenging series. Demon’s Souls’ reputation falls in line with the rest of the Souls series, though – not only is it incredibly difficult, but also incredibly rewarding. Here’s everything you need to know about Demon’s Souls before you jump in.
9 Demon’s Souls Tips to Get You Started
Spec Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
When you start Demon’s Souls, you might want to look at which starting class is best suited for how you want to fight during your time Boletaria. Not only is it just good practice to understand what stats and gear you’ll have, it’s also because once you’ve started the game, you’ll be unable to level up until you’ve defeated the first boss of the game; The Phalanx.
After defeating the boss, pay a visit to The Monumental in The Nexus, your hub for the game. After a little exposition, you’ll be able to talk to the Maiden in Black and begin to level up your character. Our top starting-class for beginners who may not have played a ‘Souls’ game before would be the Royalty class, as they’re equipped with the powerful ‘Soul Arrow’ spell and MP regenerating gear that will be useful throughout the game.
Confirmed PlayStation 5 Games
Broaden Your Horizons
After you manage to beat the Phalanx in the Boletarian Palace, you don’t actually have to do the next level immediately afterwards, as after you’ve visited the Monumental, you will be able to travel to any of the archstones. Each archstone has its own unique tone, feel, and difficulty. Each world holds three to four sub-levels, each with their own unique bosses, challenges, and characters to meet.
Aside from the Boletarian Palace, you’ll be able to explore the mysteries and monsters hidden in Stonefang Tunnel, where you’ll encounter miners and precious resources aplenty. Then there’s the doomed horror of The Tower of Latria, where the inhuman mind-flayers lurk as you hear the screams of those who have been taken captive. At the unforgiving Shrine of Storms, you’ll find very speedy skeleton warriors, as well as the powerful weapons left behind by those who have fallen before them. And lastly, you’ll be able to tackle the Valley of Defilement, a poison swamp, where the discarded waste of the world goes to die, and where you’ll be able to encounter the tragic tale of a god-fearing woman and her loyal guardian. They all sound so welcoming, it’s hard to know where start first!
Try Something New
If you’re finding yourself hitting a wall, or finding any particular area to be too difficult to complete, you’ll always be able to head back to the Nexus, farm for materials and healing items, or just try out a new area. There’s no real ‘correct’ path to finishing Demon’s Souls, and since all options open up after you beat the Phalanx in Boletarian Palace, you’ll be able to dip in and out of all of them to get an idea of where you’ll want to head to next. For beginners who have never played Demon’s Souls before, we’d say a pretty safe bet for progression would be to either head to Stonefang Tunnel or the Valley of Defilement next, as they’re not too unforgiving, and will also net you good items and souls to help you on your journey. In particular, if you manage to beat the boss in the second level of Stonefang Tunnel, you’ll be able to acquire an item that will also allow you to create boss weapons, if you’ve met a certain blacksmith.
In a sense, the structure is like that of the old-school Mega Man games, just pick a place to go, and if it’s too hard, start to look elsewhere.
Eat Your Greens
In Demon’s Souls, there are no Estus Flasks or Blood Vials. Instead, you can find various ‘Grasses’ that restore your health. In the PS5 version of the game, the Grasses that restore the most health will weigh more, so be sure to keep an eye on your item load when picking them up. ‘Grains’ are another new addition, and they allow you to gain a temporary boost to your elemental defense, so for any new and returning players, you’ll want to keep an eye on what kind of damage enemies are hitting you with, and mitigating it somewhat with the correct type of Grain.
Share the Load
One of the mechanics present in Demon’s Souls which isn’t in any later SoulsBorne games is item load. Every item you pick up in Demon’s Souls has a weight attached to it, and after you fill up on items to your maximum capacity, you won’t be able to pick anything else up. This is crucial if you’re wanting to pick up heavier sets of armour or weapons while out exploring, so be sure to head to the Nexus and drop anything that’s not necessary off at Stockpile Thomas. You’re also able to drop off upgrade materials that you won’t need to carry with you to use at a blacksmith. This should make it a whole lot easier to deal with. But, if you find yourself needing more, grab the Jade Hair Ornament from a hanging corpse in the first level of Boletarian Palace and give it to Stockpile Thomas, who will give you a Ring of Herculean Strength in return. This will increase your item load capacity by 50%, meaning that you’ll be able to carry more around with you, should you need it.
Equip load remains the same as it behaves in the later Dark Souls games, so keep an eye on what you need, and keep it underneath 50% if you want a faster roll speed, otherwise you might find yourself slowly tossing yourself on the ground, instead. If you’re at over 100% of equipment load, you’ll instead just do a slow lurch forward. You’ve been warned! Like item load, you can also acquire an item, the Ring of Great Strength which will increase equip load capacity by 50%. It’s dropped by Biorr of the Twin Fangs, or by daring to grab the loot from underneath the Dragon’s Roost in the first level of Boletarian Palace.
Mana, Magic & Miracles
The way Mana is handled in Demon’s Souls is also a bit different from its other SoulsBorne counterparts. You get an MP bar, and each cast of a spell uses a bit, and you’re also able to restore MP with uses of “Spice” which can be found in the world or from Patches the Hyena, once you’ve unlocked him at The Nexus. Spells are divided into two types, Magic and Faith.
You can get started with Magic once you have your Intelligence stat up to 10, and then talk to Freke’s Apprentice in the Nexus, who will be happy to teach you a few beginner spells. We recommend that you pick up Soul Arrow first, unless you’ve started as the Royalty class. His range of spells taught is pretty limited, so you’ll want to free Sage Freke from the Tower of Latria, in the tower near the Fool’s Idol boss fight. You can’t miss it. From there, head back to his cell and unlock it, after that, he’ll appear in The Nexus, ready to teach you spells.
For Faith, you’ll want to make sure you have a Faith stat of 10 before heading to The Nexus, after defeating the Phalanx. Then, you’ll be able to learn basic miracles from the Disciple of God who appears there, he has helpful Miracles like Heal, Antidote and Evacuate.
Hone your Steel
A key mistake in any Souls game is forgetting to upgrade your weapons and armor as much as possible. To upgrade your gear, you’ll need to head to a Blacksmith and give him the right amount of materials and souls required for that upgrade. But it’s not quite that simple, either. There are a number of upgrade paths that you can take, that scale to different stats, or output different types of damage, too. For example, a Claymore normally scales to Strength and Dexterity with a normal ‘Hardstone’ upgrade. However, if you use ‘Moonlightstone’, you can change this into a ‘Moonlight’ version of the same weapon, which then changes what stats scale with weapon damage, adds strong magic scaling onto it, and deals added magic damage on top of that, too. Not too shabby.
There is a load of combinations of these upgrades, with a different one to suit whatever character build you might choose to play as. To get you started, though, we would recommend that you head over to Stonefang Tunnel and attack the miners there for their precious ores. This will be more than enough to get you started with upgrading your weapon. Be sure to keep an eye out for Crystal Lizards too, as they are able to drop incredibly rare upgrade materials.
Probably the most obtuse mechanic in Demon’s Souls is Character and World Tendency, which affects whether or not characters appear in a certain area, and how many souls that drop from enemies, too. There’s a lot to cover about world tendency but here’s what you need to know: The more you die in “Body form,” and the more NPCs you kill, the darker the world tendency gets. The more black phantoms (invaders or otherwise) and bosses you defeat, the whiter the world tendency gets.
Character Tendency affects how much HP you have in Soul Form, whether or not you can enter certain locked areas, and will make your attacks slightly stronger in Pure White. In Pure Black, you can have certain NPCs appear in the Nexus, too. Influencing Character Tendency is easily manipulated, by beating bosses in your world or elsewhere to achieve Pure White, and killing players as Black Phantom in PVP to achieve Pure Black.
Be Ready for Boletaria
Demon’s Souls laid the groundwork for the Souls series that came after it, so there may be some hallmarks that you recognise in area design. But make no mistake: Demon’s Souls is its own beast. With less of a focus on the Epic or Gothic Fantasy titles that came after it, Demon’s Souls is much darker in tone, given its themes of survival through adversity and the rapid decline of a nation and its people.
When playing, give yourself every advantage you can get. Take your time, pick up everything you find, upgrade your weapons as often as possible, and definitely pay attention to the whereabouts of NPCs. If it’s all too much, don’t be afraid to summon friendly players to help guide you and uncover the secrets hidden within this cult classic.
Good luck, and Umbasa.
Sayem Ahmed is a freelance writer and critic. You can find him over on Twitter @sayemahmd.