233: Ghosts in the Machine

Ghosts in the Machine

Demon's Souls is a difficult RPG that offers strange connections. Remnants of other players' experiences are scrawled on the walls and you can view echoes of their deaths. Brendan Main relates a personal haunting and how it made him feel like he did when playing the game.

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Wow no replies yet? This article is phenomenal! I felt the exact way playing through Demon's Souls. Sense of eerie creepiness that follows you in the beginning. If I let paranoia get a hold of me I found myself taking less risks and playing the game less often. Eventually I just became more immune to it, and just expected it, doing the best cost/benefit analysis with my hoard of precious souls I could. Once I started looking up min/maxing guides I definitely saw a difference in my original character with my new one (I really hate min/maxing, but I definitely felt like I made my first character not as good I should have). Once I had a proper clue to the stats and possible very useful items, the game made more sense, and it was just thrilling.

Very quiet, very creepy, and everything... EVERYTHING... Hates you. For simply being alive. :)

I love reading about Demon's Souls. I just don't think I could take the terror, I've got a very very low threshold.

I@ll be terribly pedantic now. "Punishing in the biblical sense" What the heck was that supposed to mean? You qualified it with, castigating the bad rather than rewarding the good. As in the other non-biblical type of punishment involves giving people good things for doing good things? It was an incredibly weak and silly sentence to contain a sophisticated word.

Not only that but the core tenant of Christianity is that we're forgiven by God even when we screw up, and we'll never stop screwing up but God will never stop forgiving us. So in fact, the sentence means the exact opposite of what you meant it.

/End of a pointless rant by an internet pedagogue.

Well, before I thought that Demon's Souls might be interesting to try out, but now...you've gone and got me both intrigued and terrified of what the experience would do to me. Especially with the sleep paralysis comparison - I get that way too often and it completely freaks me out every single time (especially when I've just dreamed that I'd woken up in bed, only to later wake up [or not] another time, something which also happens to me far too often). I'll have to make sure to have some friends around to keep me from losing it if I ever give it a go...

BrotherRool:
I love reading about Demon's Souls. I just don't think I could take the terror, I've got a very very low threshold.

I@ll be terribly pedantic now. "Punishing in the biblical sense" What the heck was that supposed to mean? You qualified it with, castigating the bad rather than rewarding the good. As in the other non-biblical type of punishment involves giving people good things for doing good things? It was an incredibly weak and silly sentence to contain a sophisticated word.

Not only that but the core tenant of Christianity is that we're forgiven by God even when we screw up, and we'll never stop screwing up but God will never stop forgiving us. So in fact, the sentence means the exact opposite of what you meant it.

/End of a pointless rant by an internet pedagogue.

I certainly didn't mean to touch on any theological ground - if I had been more precise, I could have said punishing in an "old testament," or even "deuteronomic" sense. Not the "lion with the lamb blessed are the meek" stuff. The "Oh no it is raining blood and locusts are eating my eyes" stuff. More S.L.J. than J.C.

But you raise a fair point, and I concede I could have been clearer. Us internet pedagogues got to stick together, after all.

Being pretty bad at gaming in general, despite my love for it, I don't think I could take Demon's Souls. But reading this article... I may just buy it for one of my better friends and watch over their shoulder.

I don't know if I'd enjoy it, but it intrests me.

I don't know what's on the other side, and I've never been pushing to try and figure it out, but for once, I'd like to talk about death. I can't talk with my family, because they'll think I need mental help. I can't talk with my friends, because their lives have never been touched by death and they won't understand.

And all together, in a world of Halo and Zelda, I appreciate the origionality of games like Katarmari, Viewtiful Joe, etc. but even for the ideas that manage to be both origional and serious, like Assassin's Creed, I've never seen a downright phylisophical game. Could I have found one?

Article background picture contains a huge Demon's Souls spoiler.

i know this isnt really a review but its made me want to buy the game more then Zero Punctuations review.
you made the game sound very amazing.
and that sleep paralysis seems a tad on the frightening side!

"We become unknowable things, somehow less that ourselves..."

Less than ourselves?

Either way, very nice writeup.

"Turn on. Tune in. Drop dead."

I see what you did there.

Before I get Demon's Souls, or even a PS3 for that matter, I need to get a job. I've always planned on getting it, though, and this article helped to further cement that fact into my mind. I have always loved the kind of game that conjures up emotions, and Demon's Souls looks to be a prime candidate. A great article, but you might want to lessen up on the flowery language and imagery. The more casual crowd might not take it as seriously. Just a thought.

To be honest, the "picture" that this article painted in my mind sort of unnerved me. It seems that at least some people find Demon's Souls to be a unique and involving experience, and as it's been described as a spiritual successor to King's Field (which I loved), I'm rather interested. Unfortunately, I do not (nor will I ever) own a Playstation 3, so I suppose I'm out of luck.

I wonder if this deep metaphor for the internet age sparked in the developer's minds, or would need a hilarious amount of enter key presses to illustrate how far it flew over their heads.

...Does anyone else feel like sharing NetHack graveyard files?

I can relate to this article if only because I've suffered sleep paralysis several times. In fact one time my douna was resting on my neck, so I was choking. I couldn't move and I could feel my brain going hazy.

most frightening moment of my life was realizing I may not live past 18...

I think the paradox of "constantly communicating, never connecting" is a fascinating one, and this game's unique quasi-multiplayer setup does seem like it offers an interesting way of viewing that. Good insights, well written.

I've never played the game (the Arian god of PC gaming that I am) and from what I hear it isn't the best game ever made. But you my friend make a very, very compelling argument to go buy a console and decent into the murky depths commonly sneered at as "casual gaming". This was an exquisite article, a gerat read and my only fear is that 800 word (or whatever) or your writing outclasses the game you describe by far.

Well done.

I haven't actually got the game, but I just have to say: the article is truly amazing!

To tell the truth, it is a far greater insight into the game than most reviews I've seen, and the extra link to sleep paralysis is done astoundingly well :)

This sounds like quite possibly one of the creepiest things I could ever think of doing in a game, however, because I'm not that kind of player, I don't think this game is for me.

I am inspired!

....I shall write a book.

....And probably buy Demon's Souls

Interesting... I just got a PS3 a few days ago, and I think I'm getting this game for my birthday in a few days, so yah!

That's pretty interesting. Demon's Souls is the best game I've played.

I'm not really a fan of crushingly hard games, but I just might get this now. You've made it sound so fascinating.

MNRA:
I've never played the game (the Arian god of PC gaming that I am) and from what I hear it isn't the best game ever made. But you my friend make a very, very compelling argument to go buy a console and decent into the murky depths commonly sneered at as "casual gaming". This was an exquisite article, a gerat read and my only fear is that 800 word (or whatever) or your writing outclasses the game you describe by far.

Well done.

think of the hardest PC game available.....

no, not CS:S using a 28.8kbps dialer, but a real hard game.

multiply that by 10 and you get Demon's Souls, but if you need another reason, I hear the Ps3 plays both blu-ray movies and some games, D. souls included, amazing huh?

seriously, if you want a hard game, atleast borrow or play this game at a friends house, you will.....well, probably regret it......

I absolutely LOVE Demon's Souls.

I don't find it all that difficult, per se. The game rewards methodical deliberate gameplay, which is something that is difficult to find in modern games. Compare how many games there are available in the Action/Adventure RPG genre that can be played using the "rush in, guns blazing" tactic to those that are more deliberate and cerebral and you'll find a huge imbalance.

I hope Atlus has plans for a sequel, and I hope some other developers take notice and we see a rebirth of challenging titles.

It would be redundent for me to say much of how excellent the article was (it was, by the way), but their is a minor issue I must adress: When you mention the Blakc Phantoms, you state that "These invasions are unmarked and unannounced..."

While they can happen at any time (Unannounced), you are told when it happens ("Placenamehere" has invaded you're world). They are marked. Or, wait, would it be the other way around (Unmarked, but announced when it occurs?)

Well, either way, you're told when it happens.

This is one of the most minor gripes I have ever mentioned about such an excellent articles, but it is because ti was so excellent that I really noticed it.

I apologize if I was rude.

great article, it kept me captivated the whole time and made me so much more excited to get this game.

Brendan Main:
Ghosts in the Machine

Demon's Souls is a difficult RPG that offers strange connections. Remnants of other players' experiences are scrawled on the walls and you can view echoes of their deaths. Brendan Main relates a personal haunting and how it made him feel like he did when playing the game.

Read Full Article

This is one of the best articles I've read. You painted a picture in my mind, and it was a good one. Had I a PS3, I'd buy this game based on your review alone. I liked how you managed to put in the loneliness of a hyperconnected world and an interesting fact on Sleep Paralysis in a game review. :p

A very interesting read. I must admit, it peaked my interest in the game somewhat too.

Sleep paralysis combined with hypnagogia (and/or hypnopompia, depending on how semantic you want to be) is the origin of the various myths surrounding this phenomenon. It's not just the sleep paralysis itself that spurs these legends. If all you experienced was the paralysis aspect, then you didn't really get the "full effect" of the experience.

The altered mental state and auditory and visual hallucinations are what make it truly terrifying, in conjunction with the paralysis and inability to easily wake from the state. Emotional distortion, sense of doom, a sense of a presence in the room with you (which often feels evil and malevolent), a sense of pressure/pressing on your chest (thought to be a simple perceptual oddity related to sleep paralysis autonomous breathing while conscious), auditory hallucinations (often whispers or voices), and even full-fledged visual hallucinations, all while lying in your bed paralyzed, is quite scary. I've experienced it many times with effects up to and including visual hallucinations in my peripheral vision, and I can see why people attribute this to supernatural or extraterrestrial causes. Particularly since it can be a reoccurring thing happening many times a night or many nights in a row.

The most important distinction is that it does NOT feel like a "dream state". I don't know enough about the science to know how closely this state physiologically resembles a dreaming brain, but I can definitely say that perceptually it feels like no dream you have ever had. The feelings and hallucinations, in conjunction with the paralysis, is a completely lucid, conscious experience. When you manage to wake from it or snap out of it, it in no way resembles the usual dream sensation that you typically feel after even the most vivid of nightmares. If your eyes are open and you have a view of something useful in the room, you can verify your experience against external stimuli... the time on the alarm clock, noises outside, animals/pets inside moving around, etc. All of which can be correlated to reality if you wake up shortly after, though of course arguably all these perceptual things could be incorporated into a dream, but at that point you'd be arguing semantics. Suffice to say I have had many dreams and nightmares, some extremely vivid, even some lucid, but none have ever come remotely close to the conscious "real" feeling of one of these episodes. I have no doubt that the majority of UFO abduction reports are caused by this, and as I can attest to how real it feels I can sympathize with those who are firmly convinced that the hallucinations they experienced were a real event for them.

For me it was terrifying at first, but after 6 or 7 events and some research, I finally figured out how to wake myself from this state "on demand", or nearly enough, which removed most of the panic and took the edge off. The experiences can still be frightening and filled with many scary perceptual phenomena, but knowing what it is and how to get out of it helps put it back into the realm of a typical nightmare.

For those who may happen to find themselves in this state some night, the most important thing I've found is that it is nearly impossible to "fight" your way out of it into wakefulness (though I once managed it when convinced that the "evil presence" was attacking my wife). Fighting against it just tends to make it worse and increase your sense of panic. It is far more effective to recognize what is happening and then try and relax. By calming yourself you can usually slip back into a fully asleep state, from which I almost inevitably come fully awake within about 10 minutes (as verified numerous times by the last time I remember seeing on the clock, and the time on the clock when I then snap awake, though perceptually it generally feels instantaneous). Most frustrating is when you repeatedly slip into this state over and over in a night. Usually a change in position (rolling over, etc.) is sufficient to prevent that, but occasionally I've had to come to full alertness (10 or 20 minutes awake in the light) to keep from repeatedly slipping back into the same state.

 

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