Ranking the 10 Best Bosses in Demon’s Souls

It appears the days of consoles launching with cutesy mascots may be long over. Sure, the PlayStation 5 comes pre-loaded with the delightfully nostalgic tech showcase Astro’s Playroom, but the real console exclusive that has people trying to get their hands on one of these elusive wonders is Bluepoint’s remake of FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls. At last, those without access to the Souls game that started it all way back on the PS3 can experience this intriguing historical document of a game that laid much of the foundation for the far more heralded Dark Souls trilogy. It both feels somewhat old as many of the constructs found within have reappeared multiple times in the ensuing decade plus of Soulsborne titles but also thrillingly new as massive improvements to graphical fidelity, frame rates (a Souls game running at a consistent 60 fps might be the most impressive thing Sony has ever done), and that wonderful haptic feedback the PS5 controller is becoming known for. While I may not have found myself slamming my head against the wall out of frustration like most Soulsborne games are notorious for (I suffered a mere 79 deaths versus the thousand or so I usually do, but I mainly attribute this to that smooth frame rate and tons of prior Souls experience), I still found myself completely absorbed in the fog-covered world of Boletaria, loving learning how one of my favorite genres of games got its start. 

 

If you’re interested in more Soulsborne boss rankings, be sure to check out my posts on Dark Souls, Dark Souls 3, Bloodborne, and Sekiro.

Dishonorable Mention: Old Hero

oldhero

Every FromSoftware game has at least one dud, and this was the lone stinker among the bunch. As you enter the Old Hero’s lair, you’re immediately presented with a note saying to “Try Stealth”. By equipping the Thief Ring, the imposing blind giant can no longer sense you, and the fight turns into you ambushing him repeatedly and running away until he stops swinging. I have a suspicion this one felt a lot cooler back in 2009, but with nearing 100 Souls bosses under my belt, it just didn’t connect.

Design: 7
Difficulty: 1
Approximate Deaths: 0
Rating: 4

10) Dirty Colossus

dirtycolossus

One of the most noticeable traits of the bosses in Demon’s Souls is that they tend to be more grotesque or morbid than the majority of the more recent FromSoftware fare. With names like Leechmonger and the Penetrator, it was clearly their intention to go big, and Dirty Colossus follows suit by being engulfed in flies which drain your health that he also happens to shoot at you from time to time. It was a fun fight that managed to move beyond the usual “hit repeatedly at groin area” strategy that many Souls bosses take on thanks to the winged insects. Additionally it felt like a fitting end to the appropriately named Valley of Defilement.

Design: 8.5
Difficulty: 7
Approximate Deaths: 0
Rating: 8

9) Dragon God

dragongod

Seemingly every Souls game has at least one non-traditional boss encounter that can be hit or miss. The Dragon God is one of the two of that ilk found in Demon’s Souls, and surprisingly, both pay off immensely (more on the other further down the list). Aside from some up close hacking required to finish off the beast, the bulk of the battle revolves around clearing a path to giant harpoon guns located throughout the dragon’s lair while trying not to get crushed by its brutal swipes. There almost seems to be a certain amount of luck required to not get smooshed to death, but the sheer scale of the dragon really helps hammer home that feeling that you’re playing something next-gen.

Design: 8
Difficulty: 8.5
Approximate Deaths: 10
Rating: 8

8) Vanguard Demon

vanguard

For all intents and purposes, the Vanguard Demon is more of an “optional” boss battle. You’re intended to swiftly die at his hands since he’s wildly overpowered compared to where you are when you meet him in the game’s tutorial, and that death is key to sending you to the game’s hub world known as the Nexus, thus locking you out of a chance for revenge. Still, I would not be deterred, and I continually restarted my game until I finally emerged victorious 5 or so attempts later. This prototype for the Asylum/Stray/Firesage Demons from Dark Souls has a fairly simple to study move-set, but a single mistake will spell your doom. Finally managing not to get overwhelmed and besting him provided me with all the confidence I needed for the rest of my adventure, and the rewards given for doing so were also a great early game help.

Design: 8
Difficulty: 9
Approximate Deaths: 5
Rating: 8.5

7) Flamelurker

flamelurkerThe Flamelurker feels a lot like one half of the deadly combo that became Dark Souls 3’s Demon Prince. Possessing a stunning combination of size, speed, and strength, this agile boss encounter was the first to really give me trouble. There was nothing clunky about this hulking beast. Rather he was just pure, fluid mayhem and a lot of fun to die to repeatedly. A word of advice, just, uh, try not to murder Patches the second you see him despite knowing what treachery he brings his way in every Souls game.

Design: 8
Difficulty: 9
Approximate Deaths: 8
Rating: 8.5

6) Old King Allant

oldking

Although technically the penultimate boss in the game, Old King Allant is the final real battle you’ll have, and his ability to cover distances quickly and unleash massive area of effect spells nails what makes other end bosses like Gwyn and the Soul of Cinder such satisfying conclusions to these games. Everything about the battle feels epic in scope thanks to a thrilling dragon-guarded path that must be traversed to reach him and the king’s very clean look that stands in sharp contrast to all the bosses you have already left in your wake. Fortunately, I discovered that our swift false king wasn’t so keen at handling corners and was able to outsmart him fairly quickly. While the fast victory could have proven to be disappointing, it felt more like a culmination of learning from my previous encounters, and, as a result, was pretty rewarding.

Design: 8.5
Difficulty: 8
Approximate Deaths: 1
Rating: 8.5

5) Fool’s Idol

foolsidol

Yet another common Souls boss trope is having an enemy that makes duplicates of itself, forcing you to have to solve the mystery of who is the true baddie (see the Crystal Sage in Dark Souls 3). Sometimes it can be frustrating or a little bland, but this original incarnation was one of my favorite encounters in the game. Fool’s Idol hits hard with magic attacks and also plays a fun and deadly little memory mini-game by planting traps that quickly become invisible, making your trek between doppelgängers all the more dangerous and exciting.

Design: 8.5
Difficulty: 8.5
Approximate Deaths: 5
Rating: 8.5

4) Storm King

stormking

Our second “gimmick” boss fight of the game comes with a sense of legend and wonder. Much like in the Yhorm the Giant fight from Dark Souls 3, the best way to tackle this challenge is to acquire the storm breaker sword and use its wind-powered magical attacks to fell you adversary. Add in a ton of floating helpers, and this becomes an epic battle where you need to be constantly moving and seeking just the right time to strike. 

Design: 9.5
Difficulty: 7
Approximate Deaths: 0
Rating: 8.5

3) Old Monk

oldmonk

What’s great about the Old Monk is that everyone connected to the internet gets an entirely unique experience because the old monk takes the form of an invading player. I was super excited to test my skills against a fellow human only to have my hope quickly turned into despair as my nefarious opponent backstabbed me as soon as I traversed the fog. I was abruptly dispatched of and forced to climb up the towering, winding staircase yet again. Sadly, my next opponent bailed prior to my arrival, so I was left to face a standard computer controlled character that I was able to defeat fairly easily. Still, the concept and all the great stories this battle gives people is enough to put it high up on the list.

Design: 9
Difficulty: 9.5
Approximate Deaths: 1
Rating: 9

2) Maneater

maneater

I wish I didn’t know what was coming my way when I started this battle. Unfortunately, since I had braved the twin gargoyle challenge from Dark Souls, I had a pretty good idea that my winged rival wasn’t alone. Even making it to the second gargoyle proved to be quite the challenge as the fury provided by the first and the narrow walkways you had to maneuver were a recipe for doom. Eventually, I did give in to the pressure from my ever-growing gaming backlog and called on help, which still took several attempts to finally triumph because god damn those narrow walkways…

Design: 9
Difficulty: 10
Approximate Deaths: 10
Rating: 9.5

1) Tower Knight

towerknight1

Of all the memorable bosses populating the ravaged Earth of Demon’s Souls, the Tower Knight best epitomizes what makes a perfect Souls boss. If you somehow manage to survive the absolutely brutal path to reach him, you get the pleasure of going up against the biggest non-dragon the game has to offer. If you choose to go at him from up close, you need to beware of his shield attacks, while trying to keep your distance makes you vulnerable to his devastating magic spells. Oh, and did I mention that the battle arena is filled with other minor enemies trying to snipe you from a distance? More likely than not, you will fall and be forced to endure that arduous run back to him through dragons and knights, death and misery, that are exactly what make a Souls game so amazing and epic.

Design: 10
Difficulty: 9
Approximate Deaths: 5
Rating: 10

Exhausted and weary from so much dying, I added these marvels of game design to my ever growing list of Soulsborne triumphs with 4 games completed this year alone and 5 overall. Now, it’s just time to finally tackle the weird world of Dark Souls 2, so I can determine the greatest overall bosses that FromSoftware has created throughout their death-addled ultimate test of determination that now spans 6 masterful titles.

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