Over the past few years, all things SoulsBorne have steered my creative direction. If it weren’t for Jonathan introducing me to Demon’s Souls years ago, I don’t know where my ideas on fantasy would be at the moment.
So, in a flurry of sadness and joy, I turned the game on again for the last two hours the servers would ever be active.
I got hooked on this moody, medieval game before Dark Souls was a thing. Fighting through the opening castle was grueling and demanded a level of conviction that most video games didn’t have.
There was no “Prepare To Die” campaign. There was only the understanding that you would lose, that you would have experience points/currency that you would be lucky to ever spend, that there was an entire world against you and no clear path to success.
It seems funny how much Souls games can act as a metaphor for the world. Yet, here we are.
Demon’s Souls was never about the online multiplayer for me. I enjoy having that ability, but I took more from the random phantoms and the notes left by other players. That’s right, all the notes are gone now too.
Can you imagine the end of Anor Londo without someone writing on the ground “Amazing Chest Ahead”? That’s what’s happened with Demon’s Souls.
What sticks with me is how many people have written notes with the simple message of “Farewell.” It’s a note that has ceased to exist, but it was thrown into the world as a gesture of goodwill for a complete stranger. I admit, I wrote such a message less than an hour before the server closed down for good.
At the end, I was fighting alongside another player, mirfi, as we tried to get past a stairwell full of archers and knights, hoping to dash past a dragon and some officials, all in an effort to kill an old king. That old king still lives, but I did fight him with allies, something most players haven’t been able to try.
More than anything else, I want to share how I feel, the sadness and the joy. There’s an area on the top floor of The Nexus (the game’s hub area) that is useless now, since it won’t list community records. There’s one piece of gear that requires a player to participate in a specific online duel to get–that’s gone too. Community World Tendency, an overall alignment system has no impact now, as there is not a game-supported network for the community.
This is a foundational root of gaming culture that has closed off a big part of its identity. Something that’s gone now despite wide calls for its return.
For now, I can only end with my favorite line from Demon’s Souls. The inventory keeper, Stockpile Thomas closes most interactions saying, “You’ve got a heart of gold. Don’t let them take it from you.”