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Demon’s Souls has been sitting on my bookshelf for the better part of a decade now, pretty much in the exact spot I left it after my week of trying “to see what all the fuss was about.” I bailed out after a long morning and afternoon clawing my way to about halfway through the Boletarian Palace, where I once again died unceremoniously, and could not face the prospect of restarting once again.
I told myself and others that the game just didn’t fit into my life, that I knew I’d not be able to invest the time Demon’s Souls was demanding in the form of muscle memory and knowledge of each nook and cranny of each level. Maybe that was true, but the real truth I didn’t want to put that time into something I found so intentionally frustrating. I meant to go back at some point, when there was time enough to spare that I’d be able to delight in the slow accretion of ability and progress in my journey through video game purgatory.
I can still do that, of course—there’s nothing stopping me from cracking open that DVD case for the first time in years and putting it inside the PS3 I still keep hooked up to my TV. But the servers are offline now, which means my journey would no longer by marked by the cryptic shorthand messages left by other players to warn me against or—more often—to lure me into a deadly danger.
Even if Atlus had once again extended the life of those Demon’s Souls servers, I probably still would not have gotten back around to the game. I would have kept promising myself that I’d return… and then I’d find something else that was more pressing and enticing. But now I can’t help but feel like I have well and truly missed the boat, and that the game that launched so many think-pieces in the early days of my games-writing career is now forever cut-off from a part of itself.
I can play a version of Demon’s Souls but not quite the one that I remember reading about, when everyone seemed to have a spooky, evocative anecdote from their time with this strange, difficult video game.
On the other hand, maybe it’ll be easier now that the crowd is well and truly gone, and I can be bad at Demon’s Souls in peace and quiet, without anyone else coming along to rub my face in it.
What is a game or multiplayer experience you regret sleeping on, that you can’t quite get back?