Ill admit... I have never played a Shin Megami game until now. I borrowed Persona 3 from a friend but I havent played it yet because I bought SMTDSO for the 3DS. Oh... I got a 3DS by the way!=D
You can thank all the info about Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance that came out of the Tokyo Game Show for that. Anyway onto Shin Megami.
The story of the game is you and your two friends are trying to escape or survive the Yamanote circle for seven days. Once the end of the 7th day hits different events will happen depending upon what characters path you take. The story advances by going to battles or talking to characters in half hour intervals in the game. The time in the game is a big crucial factor because during certain days a character will die at a certain time so if you dont save that character by the time the clock goes past their time of death the character dies. You really dont want charcters to die mainly because there are multiple endings to the game and different achievements as well. Once you beat the game you can start again using the New Game+ feature. Some of the edings cannot be achieved on your first play through along with some of the achievements, like not having any of your human party members die and never losing a battle. As the story progresses and you find out whats really going on behind the scenes the game REALLY sucks you in. It had me sucked in from the beginning.
At first I didnt think that I would like SMTDSO because I dont like tactics based game unless its from the Disgaea series. But SMTDSO isnt just a tactics game. Yes it is a tactics game but it also has the turn-based combat that made RPG's amazing! On the battlefield screen everything is set up in a tactics style but when you actually go into battle it turns into a turn-based battle where the demon or person with the greatest AGI will go first and then the second highest so on and so forth. There are weaknesses to certain elements and resistances to certain elements just like in RPG's. Your human characters arent the only way to battle in the game. As the game progresses and your main character levels up you can fuse different demons together to create more powerful ones or you can buy more off the auction house. There are a TON of different fusion combinations in the game. Before you go into battle you can use the special skills of demons to move further or increase the chances of a critical hit in combat, heal etc.
Now for the game that has put fear into my heart, the game that made me do something no other game has ever made me do before, crawl up into a ball and just cry: Dark Souls. This is the best way to describe Dark Souls, as quoted loosely from Strategy Informer:
Dark Souls hates you. It hates everything you are. It hates your mom, it hates your dad, it hates your whole family. It hates everything you love. You didnt do anything to it. You didnt insult its mother. You didnt make fun of its religion. All you did is want to play it and that alone is enough for it to hate you.
The predecessor to this game, Demon Souls, is a walk through Candyland compared to Dark Souls. Dark Souls is hard. Period. The game will kick you and knock you down and then just keep pummeling you until you say uncle. Then it will just hit you harder. The gameplay plays like Demon Souls except its a lot more fluid. There are more classes to choose from than there were in the first one and you can customize your character as well. You can still write messages to other players to give them hope in this dark storm of a game or just to say "Hey. Trap ahead. Good luck. Youll need it." Read every message that you can. Trust me. youre going to need all the help you can get. I even suggest getting the strategy guide for it. I NEVER suggest the guide for games. EVER. But this is just too brutal. So now I will give you a rundown of the painstaking long and agonizing 4 hours of my playthrough... to the first boss... Oh by the way, there is only one difficulty for the game.
The game started me out in a dungeon and as I made my way out it told me the buttons for attacks, dodging and whatnot. Partway through I came across the Asylum Demon. The only difference between this first "miniboss" compared to the one from Demon Souls is that I can actually kill the one in Dark Souls. The first time you meet him you HAVE to run cause you have no weapon. You just have the hilt of a sword. As I made my through I found a dagger cause I picked a thief(ROGUE FOREVER!). I found a shield off a dead guy and was set for whatever the game had in mind for me... Yeah. I was no where near prepared for it. I came across my first real challenge of a minion and when I missed to hit him he hit me and took out a 1/4 of my life! Needless to say I died... very quickly. I respawned at the bonfire. Now the bonfire is where you go when you want to replenish your health and level up. The bad thing about using the bonfire is that ALL the enemies respawn except for the bosses. After working my way back through the area and getting to the skeleton that killed me I finally killed him and took down the next three guys. I came up to a white veil door and as I went through I saw the Asylum Demon below me. I targeted him and as a jumped off I hit the attack button and did a powerful plunge attack you can only do in the air. And as i tried to take the monster down I ended up dying again. I finally made my way back again and beat the boss. As I made my way through the final area I was exploring the sides of the cliffs looking for anything to help me. one thing I learned about Dark Souls is that there is no "invisible wall" blocking you from going anywhere you arent physically able to. I discovered this as I fell off a cliff...
I finally made it tot he next area and the second, yes second, bonfire. I talked to the nPC nearby to see if he had anything to help me out with at all. I accidentally hit the attack button and hit him. I didnt know I was able to do this and wouldnt have done this because he then went to rip me a new one and kill me. Each time you die in Dark Souls the screen gets blurry and fades out and the words "YOU DIED" appear on the screen taunting you. But this time along with the blindingly obvious two words I was also met with mocking words from the guy that had killed me. As I respawn I see him sitting there and think to myself "Thank God. He reset. Im not gonna hit another NPC again." As I finish thinking this wouldnt you know it... he gets up and starts attacking me again! I run away and try to recover my health but one thing I learned in Dark Souls is that if you attract the attention of an enemy no matter how fast or how far you run away from them, they will find you like Liam Neeson in Taken, great movie by the way. Anyway, long story short, I fight and fight and fight this guy for a good hour and die about 10 times before I FINALLY kill him. And what do I get from him? A measly 500 souls... yay.
I make my way through the area trying to find out where to go next cause the game doesnt tell you at all, and come across a dead body with an item to pillage from it. I come up to the body and take the item, not noticing its in a graveyard, and right when I touch it two skeletons pop up. Now these arent your average everday run of the mill skeletons. These are skeletons that have regenerative health. Meaning that if I dont kill them in one hit theyre not going to die. Regardless I run, they chase, they kill, I respawn and avoid the graveyard altogether. I finally make my way through to the next area of the game and can finally start making some progress. After another half hour or so I FINALLY come to the next bonfire, and so far it is the only on in the ENTIRE AREA! It is in this area that I meet some new friends. Friends with exploding bombs, shields and spears, and shields and swords. After dying about another 15 times, I come across, by complete accident because I didnt see him, a gigantic black knight with a huge sowrd and shield. I just stand there and take it cause there is no way I am beating this guy. he kills me I respawn along with everything I have just killed. I have to make my way back to where I died because when you die in Dark Souls, all the souls you collect are immediately dropped where you died and unless you get those souls back before you die again you lose them. I had 4k souls obtained when the black knight killed me. I make my way back to where I died with only one problem... My stuff is right where the knight is standing. I manage to get my souls back and run away to a place where I can die and come back to get my souls easily. After another hour I make my way to the boss of the area, the Taurus Demon. I die. Did you honestly expect anything else? After another long trek to the boss I fight him and die a couple more times, each time getting my souls back. I finally manage to beat the boss by jumping off a tower and plunging into him a few times, and by a few times i mean like five or six.
Now let me say this. Think of a time in your life when you had the greatest feeling of accomplishment. That doesnt add up to the feeling of accomplishment of beating a boss in Dark Souls. Not even conquering Mt Everest can match up to this. As I make my way through the segway to the next area I get killed by the breath of a dragon in one hit. I make my way back through the area for the umpteenth time and come to where I died again. The only thing is that my stuff is in the middle of a bunch of enemies halfway down a bridge. I run down the bridge and manage to grab my stuff and hide in an alcove where the breath cant reach me and I survive! Then as im walking over to the stairs down into next area the dragon lands literally 5 feet from me and kills me... again. Now at this point of the game i have about 6k souls and have been wanting to level up so BADLY. I make my way back to the bridge and start running down the bridge and just as im about to grab my stuff back the dragon, wouldnt you know, breaths its blast of fiery breath and kills me. All those hours of killing enemies and fighting the boss are gone in an instant. All 6k souls down the drain. Its at this point that I just quit. I just quit. I give up and start crying in the corner of my room...
So here I am typing this review up, dreading to turn my PS3 on and play again knowing that there is a force greater than me in the game that wants me dead. Its not that I dont want to play it, cause i REALLY do! Its just that Im scared... Scared to play a game... Never before has game put fear of itself into like this game. For now I will play SMTDSO and try to muster up the courage to play Dark Souls again and die over and over and over again.
Dark Souls 9.0/10