Following the universal success of Elden Ring, developer FromSoftware has found itself with a plethora of new fans. For some of these fans, the sprawling open-world RPG represented their first taste of Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team’s style of world-building. For those that have been watching the Japanese developer’s star rise for over a decade though, Elden Ring‘s subtle storytelling and cryptic cast of characters will have been par for the course. FromSoftware has spent over a decade building fully fleshed-out worlds, with dozens of hours of lore waiting to be uncovered by gamers who were willing to find it, and this unique style of storytelling began with Demon’s Souls. Interestingly, despite its age, Demon’s Souls still has some of the most rich and vivid lore on offer.

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On its release, Demon’s Souls was not the immediate smash hit that FromSoftware fans have come to expect. Recent games from the developer such as Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Elden Ring have made an instant impact from the moment they launched, but this wasn’t always the case. Demon’s Souls‘ PS3 launch was subdued, and the game didn’t do particularly well in the West to begin with. It soon built up a cult following though, and the 2020 remake for PS5 shone a new light on the game’s world, exposing its lore to a brand-new audience.

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Demon’s Souls’ Lore is Rich

Every Dark Souls game introduces (or revisits) a large, complex world, and Demon’s Souls is no different. The origins of this particular world’s complexity can be traced back to an ancient time, where a powerful being known as the Old One suddenly awakened and unleashed an army of demons. These demons wasted no time wreaking havoc, wiping out a huge portion of humankind in the process. In order to stop this, and attempt to save mankind, a group of individuals known as the Monumentals used their knowledge of ancient magics, commonly referred to as Soul Arts, to return the Old One to its slumber.

Following this, the Monumentals constructed Archstones throughout the world, in order to divide the lands and create a means of traveling large distances in mere seconds. These Archstones each have a central hub connecting them, and they are all located in a mysterious realm known as the Nexus. The Nexus is an extremely important area in Demon’s Souls, as it’s a hub for wandering souls in search of their bodies. A bridge between the living and the dead, it also houses the Old One who sleeps deep below, offering endless prosperity to anyone willing to devote themselves to it.

One such individual, King Allant XII, obliged the Old One’s request, giving himself over to the demon in the hope of making his Boletarian kingdom rich. Instead of showering Boletaria in riches though, The Old One was awakened, and a thick fog spread throughout the land, causing its residents to either flee, or turn completely insane.

The Context Behind Demon’s Souls’ Six Worlds

The player’s journey begins in the Boletarian Palace, which is housed within the Small King’s Archstone. This once majestic castle is now overrun with demons and soulless beings, as well as two huge fire breathing dragons. Housed deep within the castle walls is the demonic False King Allant who sits on his throne proudly. The palace was once home to some incredible heroes, none greater than the trio of Metas, the Knight of the Lance, Long Bow Oolan, and Alfred, the Knight of the Tower. After the fog overcame the palace, these three warriors became demonic entities, guarding the path to the False King.

The Second Archstone, known as the Digger King’s Archstone, is home to Stonefang Tunnel, which was an excavation site under the command of King Allant. Many miners, steadfast in their support of the king, remained in the tunnels when the fog descended, which subsequently turned them into soulless beings with no purpose other than to endlessly dig away throughout the tunnels and caves. Below these caves there are two places of worship. A huge shrine which is devoted to an ancient dragon revered as a god, and a temple used to worship a mighty fire demon, whose flames are believed to have been used by the very first blacksmith.

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Archstone Three, the Tower Queen’s Archstone, houses the Tower of Latria, a shrine dedicated to the Ivory Queen, whose lands encompassed the shrine itself as well as a church and a penitentiary. After the fog descended, the Queen’s husband went insane and exiled the Queen. He turned Latria’s tower into a gruesome and twisted prison, employing his demons to guard the cells and the prisoners within them. He created both a false idol of his wife in order to cruelly give hope to the desperate prisoners, and also gave life to the powerful Man Eater demons, who guard his throne room with ferocious intent.

The Shadowmen Archstone, introduces players to the Shrine of Storms, a land of almost total isolation. Used mainly by pagans to mourn dead heroes and worship the god of Storms, the area is home to a huge collection of catacombs, and the powerful fog was able to raise an army of soulless skeletons to roam the area. Exploring these catacombs, the player can find the burial site of a nameless Old Hero who will attempt to destroy them. Soaring high above an ancient burial ground on the island is the Storm King, the manifestation of its pagan worshippers, given corporeal form by the deadly fog.

Often considered to be the most difficult in the game, Archstone Five or the Archstone of the Chieftain, houses the Valley of Defilement, a place that strikes fear into the hearts of heroes everywhere thanks to its unforgiving environment and confusing layout. The dregs of Boletaria’s society call this place home, with only the unholiest of their citizens sent here. The highly revered Maiden Astraea came to this place in the hope of freeing it from the fog’s icy grip, but ultimately pledged herself to a Demon’s Soul in a desperate attempt to gain salvation for the people of this wretched place, which inevitably failed.

The Sixth and final Archstone was once the gateway to the Northern Lands, home of the peaceful giants. The fog, however, changed this, and quickly drove the giants insane. Boletaria acted swiftly to attempt to suppress this danger, and smashed the Archstone in an ill-fated attempt to contain the threat of the giants. For this reason, this land is inaccessible to the player. Demon’s Souls may have been the first of its kin, and the grandfather of the Souls genre, but it’s clear to see that even at this stage of its journey, FromSoftware was able to craft an incredible high-fantasy world, steeped in lore, and many of the developer’s later successes owed a debt of gratitude to the 2009 PS3 title.

Demon’s Souls is available now on PS3, and the Demon’s Souls Remake is available now for PS5.

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