A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Demon's Souls is an action role-playing game exclusively for the Playstation 5. This is a remake of a PlayStation 3 game built around intense, brutal medieval combat. Players take on the roles of lone warriors attempting to save a kingdom from evil forces. They use swords, axes, morningstars, shields, bows and arrows, and magic to attack a mix of crazed humans and monsters -- including dragons and demons -- resulting in gushes of red blood and piles of dead ragdoll bodies. The action is relentlessly difficult, its grittiness designed to thrill -- which tends to increase the tension and severity of what players see and experience. Patient players who learn from their mistakes and persevere using caution and strategy will be rewarded, but those accustomed to easier games may grow frustrated and quit before they get there.
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What's it about?
DEMON'S SOULS is a complete remake of the PlayStation 3 game of the same name. From Software's original action RPG (role-playing game) kick-started a subgenre now referred to as "soulsborne" games, which are defined by several features, including extremely challenging yet fair combat in which players must manage their character's stamina, punishing penalties for dying, and brilliantly intricate level design. This remake is a faithful recreation of the decade-old original, in which players take on the role of a lone warrior determined to save a fallen kingdom and its remaining inhabitants from an unimaginable evil that has robbed humanity of their souls. Players begin by choosing a class, each of which have their own starting advantages and disadvantages. They venture out into a sinister world in which they will be quickly and unceremoniously killed and sent to a place called the Nexus, a hub from which their ghostly form can begin venturing out to explore the fallen kingdom, gradually growing in strength and ability. Combat demands players use the right weapons and tactics in appropriate situations, blocking, dodging, and striking with impeccable timing. Death comes frequently, and when players die, they will lose all of their collected currency and experience -- which comes in the form of souls -- unless they can make it back to the location of their most recent death without dying again. This remake has undergone a massive graphical and audio overhaul to bring it in line with modern standards. It also adds new gear -- weapons, rings, and armor -- and introduces some "quality of life" improvements, the most obvious of which is superior inventory management, resulting in an experience that feels very similar to the original but which is also pleasantly enhanced.
Is it any good?
It may be based on a game that originally launched in 2009, but this remake feels current in every way that matters. For starters, Demon's Souls is one of the prettiest games you can play on PlayStation 5 at launch. It delivers stunningly detailed medieval-style environments built with bricks and wood and stone that make you want to reach into the screen to feel their textures. And it has an enhanced score and soundtrack that makes excellent use of PlayStation 5's 3D Audio technology, giving players invaluable, potentially life-saving audio cues as to the locations of off-screen enemies. It also does cool stuff with Sony's PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, using haptic feedback to give players a more authentic feel for what it's like for solid metal blades to bang off of other weapons, armor, and obstacles. There's nothing about the way this remake looks, sounds, or feels that would suggest it's based on a much older game.
The real magic, though, is in the combat mechanics, which really haven't changed much at all, despite some tweaks to enemy intelligence and strategy. Success in battle still depends on careful observation of enemies, a gradually acquired mastery of timing for each weapon and shield, and, above all, a willingness to endure defeat. The penalties of losing in battle can be severe, costing you time and souls. But with each defeat, you'll also learn a little more about your enemies, the world, and what to try next time. And it's this fear of death and defeat that makes the action so immersive and compelling. It takes courage to push forward into the unknown or, worse, towards an awesomely powerful boss who has already defeated you, knowing what you might sacrifice if your hero should perish. It's not for the squeamish or faint of heart, but older players who feel up to a true challenge and don't mind a bit of nerve-wracking tension will find what they seek in this exemplary remake of Demon's Souls.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Demon's Souls affected by its emphasis on bloody combat, which is designed to heighten tension and stir up emotions. How did you feel during and after play? Would the gameplay have the same effect if it didn't have the same amount of blood and gore?
Do you need to be a warrior to be a hero? What other types of things can you do that would make you heroic in others' eyes?
- Platforms: PlayStation 5
- Price: $69.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: November 12, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Violence
- Last updated: December 2, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.