Normally, I'd sit down to play a sequel (in this case spiritual, if not official) and notice what's different. Not today. Playing Dark Souls at Namco Bandai's pre-TGS showcase was like seeing a friend the day after you last saw them, and all that's changed is the shirt they're wearing.
I never finished Demons Souls. I didn't really like it. It was tough, yeah, you know that, but it was the emphasis on constant concentration (something I don't enjoy in games) and careful planning that ultimately did me in.
Sitting down to play Dark Souls today, it felt exactly the same. I didn't like it. But you don't care about that. If you're reading this there's a good chance you love the games for the very reason I don't.
You fight the same, carefully timing your blows to kill off enemies that, even in the tutorial, can kill you off in seconds. You walk through the world seeing the ghosts of players dead before you on the same stage, just like you did in Demon's Souls. The menus looked largely the same, the world looked the same, you get it, it's largely the same.
Normally that's a bad thing, but people loved Demons Souls for the fact it wasn't terribly concerned with constant advances (its sadly, often-overlooked "multiplayer" mode aside). That there was satisfaction to be had in forging your way through a game with lessons learned from a million deaths, just like we used to in the old days. So more of the same (or a first serving for Xbox 360 owners) should be a welcome treat.
TOUGH AS NAILS
It's a tired cliche already and the game's not even out, but yes, Dark Souls is tough. I couldn't notice anything but this, seeing as I played the game's tutorial and died over a dozen times.
Once from shoddy combat (on my part) against an undead skeleton. Once falling from a height I probably shouldn't have. Once crushed by a rolling boulder that just came out of nowhere. And nine times fighting the tutorial's boss. Because, yeah, the tutorial has a giant boss fight at the end, which while a breeze when a prompted leaping attack was completed successfully, that leaping attack was so shoddily implemented (unlike my embarrassing combat defeats, this wasn't the result of my poor timing) that it took nine times to get it right.
Thankfully a checkpoint was located just before the boss, so replayability wasn't as brutal as it could be in Demons Souls, but whether the game was just being kind considering it was the tutorial (or whether it'd be more generous in general) wasn't clear.
I've got a philosophy with games that if a title's got conviction and a targeted appeal I'll admire it for what it is, even if I personally can't stand playing it. It's a philosophy I don't employ often (Paradox's PC strategy games, hardcore rhythm action, etc), but seeing the grim smiles on the faces of everyone else in the room playing the game alongside me I did today playing Dark Souls.