This article contains spoilers for Demon’s Souls.
Bluepoint Games’ Demon’s Souls remake for PlayStation 5 does an amazing job of preserving what was incredible and pure about the 2009 original, while simultaneously updating so many aspects of the game to a tremendous level. The music, lighting, and atmosphere are as impactful as ever, portraying the remnants of the Kingdom of Boletaria in remarkable detail. And the slew of quality-of-life improvements make the inevitable litany of deaths you’ll experience throughout the game all the more manageable.
But Bluepoint’s remake truly excels in how it reimagines the fantastic boss encounters that lay at the end of each stage. Like any FromSoftware game, Demon’s Souls is filled to the brim with memorable boss battles, all of which are improved in the remake. The dreaded Maneater fight feels genuinely spooky in the remake thanks to the fantastic lighting, sound, and visual upgrades. The Flamelurker excels in both its fascinating lore implications, as well as being the encounter that gave me the most trouble on my recent playthrough. And of course, the Tower Knight battle is the thing that immediately comes to mind when someone mentions Demon’s Souls.
But standing tall among all of these is the encounter with Old King Allant, which ostensibly acts as the game’s final boss and feels like a precursor to some of the most iconic showdowns in Soulsborne history. The entirety of Demon’s Souls feels like it’s leading up to this battle. Though you can ping-pong around the worlds that lie through the various Archstones, it feels like all roads eventually lead through here.
Throughout the game, we hear of the King’s tragic story, which began with him as a kind and wonderful ruler over all of Boletaria. He was loved by his subjects, and in turn, he loved them back. He fought bravely against the demons that remained after the first scourge, and for a time, life was good in the kingdom. But as he grew older, he began to lust for some greater power, some greater meaning in the world. This led him to the Nexus, in search of the lost Soul Arts, the remnants of magic in the world that were locked away after the scourge.
It’s here that Allant made a pact with The Old One, awakening the god from its imprisoned slumber in return for being given the power he so desperately craved. And with these events, your quest to rid the kingdom of the demon’s souls kicked off. Side note: Shout-out to Vaatividya and the entire Soulsborne community for making countless wonderful videos breaking down the lore of this incredible franchise.
But the real tragedy on the road to Allant comes from your time spent with his son, Ostrava of Boletaria. Encountered throughout the Boletarian Palace, Ostrava continually finds himself in need of assistance. As you help him along his journey, you learn that he’s on a quest to find his father, the king, and dispel the rumors of his corruption. Ostrava pushes forward, intent on proving that his father is still a good man and that he hasn’t succumbed to the demons. But when you encounter him one last time on the steps leading up to the king’s chambers, it’s clear that he’s discovered the truth. Heartbroken, he asks you to do what must be done before ending his own life.
Hidetaka Miyazaki’s games have a knack for hiding tragedy beneath the spectacle of a boss fight, be it Father Gascoigne’s reaction to his daughter’s music box in Bloodborne, or Sif’s placement at the foot of Artorias’ grave in Dark Souls. Old King Allant is one of Demon’s Souls’ many encounters that began this melancholy tradition.
As you exit the elevator, the camera sweeps across a decrepit hall. What was once majestic and beautiful is now a husk of its former self. The king sits on a pile of rubble, staring off into the gray mist that now hovers over his entire realm. He stands at your arrival and shrugs off his cape. He’s decked in regal garbs of white and gold. Without a word, he pulls out his legendary Soulbrandt, and the battle begins.
The music swells, fitting for one of the game’s most exciting challenges. Old King Allant feels like the prototype for many of the iconic humanoid bosses that FromSoftware and Miyazaki would make in their games going forward. His sword has immense reach and is difficult to dodge. He can instantly transition from a slow, methodical walk to a blistering dash. The mist that trails above him gives off a false sense of angel wings. And he’s the only enemy in the game who can wield both magic and miracles.
If you get too close to him, he can use his Soulsucker attack, which drains an entire level from your character. This sort of permanent stat decrease is rarely found in RPGs and just makes Allant all the more intimidating. But like any Soulsborne adversary, with enough patience, skill, and a bit of luck, you can take down the Old King and breathe a sigh of relief as those rewarding words “DEMON VANQUISHED” fill the screen.
But in true Souls fashion, there’s a twist. Upon slaying the boss, it becomes clear that what you just fought was a False King, a demon doppelganger fashioned by Allant to mask his true fate. With the Archstone Demons all defeated, you join The Maiden in Black and descend to the depths below the Nexus. It’s here that you come face to face with The Old One itself, who appears as an unnatural tangle of roots, sticks, and darkness.
Upon entering the otherworldly maw, you find the true King Allant. But instead of the shining and exalted knight you fought before, what lays before you is a sad, writhing mess of flesh that was once the King. From here, you’re faced with a decision that ultimately determines which ending of the game you experience.
By building upon FromSoftware’s 2009 foundation, Bluepoint’s remake has taken an encounter I love and somehow made it even better. From the lore buildup, to the tense battle, to the reveal that follows, the tragedy of King Allant is my favorite overall encounter in Demon’s Souls and one of my absolute favorite bosses in video game history.