Death, Rite and Transformation in Demons Souls
The principle is confusing like fog. A runner in ruins, an inner courtyard that houses stone wounded by the edge of a sword and a magic that transports you. Once and Again. Death is uncovered as a cyclical and cannibal force, in intimate communion with the purgatory nexus whose inhabitants seem tired and sad under a huge vault in their vertical symmetry. A veiled statement of intentions, a perfect tonal synthesis of what is to come.
In the tutorial of demon’s souls the player faces the death of Avatar as a first and fundamental learning. For Gazzard and Peacock in repetition and ritual Logic in Video Games, the tutorial is a ritual act, a kind of initiatory rite composed of a sequence of challenges and the automation of them, after which the player is transformed, prepared to act on The world that awaits you next. In the case of the game of Software, death and transformation are presented from the beginning as the fundamental pillars on which the learning of a world whose rules will be built, back in 2009, we were totally strange.
Demon’s Souls , _ Before the franchise ran like gunpowder by the popular imaginary and undress its secrets in the inevitable Internet showcase , _ was an adventure about the stranger. Its design excluded the conventions designed to facilitate progression. Where other games carefully incorporate regenerative functions and automatisms that postpone death so that history is almost cinematographic, the title of Hidetaka Miyazaki decided to dispense with that linear flow to embrace death and cyclic as language. Somehow, he connected us with an older way to play, one based on repetition and rituals, and with a knowledge about the still very primary videolaber phenomenon. On paper, a scheme not very different from experiences in arcade salons and their associated rituals; The one of the coin, the joystick and the anticipatory emotion of the next turn, of a new trip.
Facing a world whose rules are strange implies a transformation, a transmutation of forms and functions. Demon’s Souls forced us to rethink the way we relate to virtual worlds. We had to relearn to play, sometimes against the intuitions commonly shared in the middle. This transformation begins with the character himself, which moves between life and death. Each of these states affects in the way of traveling the world of the game; Both have their particularities and offer different possibilities. The environment, fabulous and ruthless, impacts again and again in us, but the acts we perform also impact on it, bonding a type of progressive and circular learning, almost ritualistic.
In piranesi, Susana Clarke, the scenario is used to define the trip. The British writer’s novel includes us in an endless house that is a universe in itself, with its own and special rules. A rare and carefully built landscape that seems to yield the symbolic but that is only the foundation of something much bigger and rich in nuances. The house uses its own codes to communicate, and its only inhabitant learns to interpret them, adapting to their swings, admiring their beauty and keeping their cruelty. In Demon’s Souls we interpret a role similar to that of Piranesi; It is necessary to attend to the body language of the environment to understand to what extent that environment tries, with its own codes, to communicate things. Also, that the scenario we see does not reflect 1: 1 a certain reality, but it is only a fragmented representation of something much greater and more complex. Something that was once, but it is no longer.
On many occasions I have written about Demon’s Souls as the origin of myth _, _ not in the sense of being a pioneer of a franchise and a way of making games (that of the modern from software) that has revolutionized the sector, but as a primitive account Subject to the successive reinterpretations and transformations of their sequelae, direct and indirect. But I also like to think about him as a venerable skeleton, as solid and symmetric as to sustain the weight of everything he came after. A primary and well-organized structure that facilitated the progressive growth of its stems, in all the amplitude of its anatomy. Dark Souls brought the thickness and completion of the meat, the abandonment of subtlety in favor of muscle and proportion. Bloodborne’s torrential blood irrigated its cracks, providing them with flexibility, and Sekiro introduced that fine motor skills and the improvement of skills.
Also, as a skeleton _, _ demon’s souls obsessively pivots around the idea of symmetry. Structural symmetry, with its bifurcations that emanate from the nerve center that is the nexus; The formal, with a trip that culminates where everything begins; and narrative, with the feedback of a relentless cycle of life and death. Even the design of each of the worlds connected by the nexial stones is crossed by this idea of organizing symmetry, crowned in the opposite verticalities of Superior Latria and Boletaria. From the arrangement of the architectural elements to the dynamics that are generated when advancing themselves, everything seems to crawl into that idea of balance and symmetry.
It may seem that the importance of Demon’s Souls, today, resides in the symbolic weight of the game, in its pioneer character and its nature of myth-origin of a legendary saga. However, several of its most outstanding aspects have not been able to survive through the sequels, or have done it but transmuted in more grandilocuent drifts, devoid of the original subtlety. As a venerable skeleton of an increasingly voluminous corpus, some of the key pieces of Demon’s Souls are fragile, in the good sense of the term, and articulated from delicacy. Cushion the step not to alert an old blind hero with the noise of our footprints, press the command “talk” with who was described as a fearsome demon in the middle of the battle and adrenaline fanfare, or the need to attend stage To plan a strategy, they were valuable inflections that promised new possibilities when it comes to raising future narratives in the clashes. That forcing us to think from laterality before precipitating us, spadish in hand and with the only idea of direct confrontation in mind, are precious features that, unfortunately, stayed there.
With the recent remake published at the end of 2020 BluePoint has given a second life to the original body. Its version for PlayStation 5 supposes a reinterpretation from the conscious distance. The American study has managed to respect the intimate skein of the game, which preserves the same tactile sensations, but has been careful enough to put aesthetic distance by means. The movement, the cadence, the weight, the pulsations and the internal rhythm remain the same, but the visual differences are enough to prevent the image of the remake overlap in our head to that of the original. His is a vigorized reconstruction, as a myth that is repeated, flowers and resonates differently in each new narration.
This new interpretation, with all the unknowns of the game to a couple of clicks away and back after a fascinating journey on the back of its sequelae, gives us the opportunity to return to the top and reconnect with the original initiatory rite. A circular adventure that renounces worship, a transformer ritual that predisposes a specific type of learning and, ultimately, a universe that is worth returning, not only to acquire perspective on subsequent incursions, but because today Being an extremely special experience.
This article is part of the monographic from Software (2009-2022) **.