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At last, those without access to the Souls game that started it all way back on the PS3 can experience this intriguing historical document of a game that laid much of the foundation for the far more heralded Dark Souls trilogy.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.
After surviving 60 hours of brutally punishing bosses in Bloodborne, my first instinct was to move on to some far less stressful and easier, breezier fare. In the ensuing days, every time I booted up my PS4, I saw that Bloodborne icon and tried desperately to convince myself not to give into the temptation of initiating a sadistic New Game+ run just to see how skilled I had become. For a few nights at least, I kept the siren's calls at bay, but the following Saturday night while bored, I thought "What could possibly be the harm?" in checking out the latest FromSoftware Opus, Sekiro, which had been sitting on my Playstation since a super holiday sale last year. This compromise of playing something new would surely placate my desire for a challenge and allow me to move on with my gaming life. Naturally, this quick peak into the world of Sekiro soon blew up into a month of repeatedly dying until I could once again add another gaming badge of courage to my collection that can only come from defeating a Soulsborne game.
The true highlight of any FromSoftware game is its massive and crushing boss battles. With each passing boss, I found myself more and more absorbed in the game's intoxicating cycle of death and learning. There's an unbelievable sense of accomplishment that comes from finally adapting to a boss's patterns and besting them after they've taken so many lives from you that makes the hours of building yourself up and cursing the nightmare of Yharnam worth it.