I will be honest, I have been very skeptical of Demon's Souls, which was developed by Sony and From Software and coming to the States thanks to Atlus. This combination could be hazardous: From Software because they can be hit and miss, all in one year; and Atlus, because their dedication to bringing Role Playing Games to the U.S. can be blind to many gamers. However, any doubt I had has since washed away as I travel in the kingdom of Boletaria. Demon's Souls is one of the most polished, rewarding Action RPGs I have ever played, and is a gem of a game that should not be overlooked.
The game starts out in pretty dark times; King Allant XII has brought more than just property to the kingdom, he has awoken the Old One, and with that a thick black fog has blanketed the land. Crazed demons have started attacking everyone and everything, and no one has made it out alive. So, of course, it is your duty to rid the land of this mess.
Things start out in fairly standard fashion, you have a wide assortment of 10 character classes to chose from — your basics such as barbarian and magician, to temple knight and priest — and the tutorial level walks you through all your controls. Then you make it to the boss at the end of this introduction and get slaughtered and die (I hear it is possible to win this fight, but I would have to see it with my own eyes). Here is where Demon's Souls sheds the basic Action RPG structure and gives us something unique; you do not really die, you just turn into Soul Form. Once you are introduced to and become familiar with the Nexus, the game's central hub, your game really starts.
Soon you will come to realize that you will be "dead" most of the game, but that is not all bad. Sure, you only have half the health of your living self, but you incur fewer penalties if you die and return to the spawn point. There are a few ways to gain life again; one of those is to kill a major demon or level boss. Demon's Souls has many concepts at work, and they all come together completely seamlessly, even online play. All the trappings are here that you would expect, including stats such as Vitality and Endurance, a multitude of weapons to be found and forged, and plenty of loot to be had, plus a karma system that I will touch on soon — these are all things to be expected in a modern day RPG.