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Demon’s Souls: 10 tips to help you survive

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5
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Demon’s Souls is perhaps the best launch game on the PS5, but you may need our Demon's Souls tips to survive. If you managed to get Sony’s new console and have even a slight affinity for action/RPGs, you'll have plenty of rewarding challenges ahead. Demon’s Souls (and the series it spawned) has a well-earned reputation for opaque gameplay systems and a difficulty level somewhere between “exacting” and “punishing.”

The truth of the matter is that Demon’s Souls is a very hard game — but it’s very rarely an unfair game. You’ll have all the tools you need to succeed, if you know where to look and how to manage your resources. To that end, I’ve put together ten of my favorite early-game tips to help newcomers to the Souls series start off on the right foot. These don’t guarantee victory right away, but follow them closely, and you’ll see your skills grow in a matter of hours.

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Demon's Souls

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Royalty is an excellent starting class 

Before you play Demon’s Souls, you’ll need to choose a starting class. There are 10 classes on offer, and each one’s strengths and weaknesses are not immediately clear. While you should choose whichever one appeals to you most, consider Royalty if you want to start off on the right foot. 

Royalty starts with very light armor, but an incredibly useful Soul Arrow magic spell, against which most enemies in the first level don’t stand a chance. Royalty is also the only class that starts at Soul Level 1, meaning you have the most leeway to customize your character later. Just be prepared to buy better armor.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Look around corners 

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but if you follow it assiduously, you’ll save yourself from a lot of pointless deaths. Every time you come across a new room or path, take a moment to move your camera side to side, as well as up and down. 

Enemies will often hide in wait and ambush you as you move forward, making a safe room into a bloodbath, or a simple enemy encounter into a desperate struggle. What’s more: Demon’s Souls spaces out these ambushes just enough to let you drop your guard before the next one blindsides you. It’s a little time-consuming, but looking around thoroughly really works.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Read messages; touch bloodstains 

Demon’s Souls is not entirely a single-player game. As long as you have an Internet connection and a PlayStation Plus subscription, you can play asynchronously with hundreds of other players, each of whom is also advancing through the kingdom of Boletaria on his or her own quest. You can still help each other, though, by reading and leaving messages. 

Messages use templates (“Be wary of **** ahead,” “Time for ****,” etc.) to warn other players about impending dangers, or alert them to hidden paths. You can also touch bloodstains, to see a player’s last moments and learn something about the way he or she died. These tools will warn you about dangers before they arise.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

(Image credit: Sony)

Equip the Cling Ring 

Demon’s Souls pulls a cruel trick, in that if you die while in human form, you revert to a “soul” form and lose half of your maximum health. Since death is frequent and more or less unavoidable, you’ll spend most of the game in soul form. 

However, you can mitigate this handicap with the Cling Ring: an accessory that you’ll find in the very first level after the prologue. This ring lets you keep about two-thirds of your health in soul form, and being able to take an extra one or two hits makes a huge difference, particularly during boss fights.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Use your shield (but not too much) 

Shields in the Souls series are, ironically, a metaphorical double-edged sword. Lean on them too much, and you’ll find yourself drained of stamina and wide open for enemy attacks. Forego them entirely (at least early on), and you’ll find yourself obliterated by attacks that you could have easily blocked. 

While shields are very much optional for advanced builds, new players should have one equipped whenever possible, and keep it up while exploring new areas. However, during combat, you should keep it up when enemies attack, then drop it as they wind up. This way, your stamina will recharge faster and give you an opportunity to deal some damage.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Stock up on healing grass 

Unlike in Dark Souls, where your healing items recharge periodically, you’ll have to collect your own supply in Demon’s Souls. This comes in the form of healing grasses: Crescent Moon Grass restores a little HP, Half Moon Grass restores more, Late Moon Grass restores a lot, etc. 

You’ll chew through grass at a prodigious rate, but not many enemies drop them, and they’re expensive to buy. Instead, focus your attention on the knights and archers near the Tower Knight boss, who almost always drop grass and respawn as soon as you touch the nearby archstone. You’ll have to beat the Tower Knight first, of course, which is also challenging.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Don’t fight every enemy 

Early on in Demon’s Souls, you’ll come across a path blocked by two dragons. It should go without saying, but as a starting character, you shouldn’t fight a single dragon, let alone two. In other levels, you’ll sometimes see enormous demons blocking your path, or fearsome foes in distant corners, guarding valuable treasure. 

There are almost always ways to sidestep these enemies, and you can (and should) come back to fight them later. Beating them early on is possible, depending on your build and strategy, but it’s a lot of frustration for relatively little payoff. Just avoid them and come back instead.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Spend your Souls frequently 

When (not if) you die in Demon’s Souls, you can retrieve your lost Souls by revisiting the spot where you fell. If you die en route to that spot, your Souls are gone forever. This is also almost guaranteed to happen to you, at least a handful of times. It’s a frustrating, disheartening experience, as it can erase hours of hard work. 

One way to circumvent this disaster is to spend your Souls on items and level-ups as often as you can. Attribute increases are permanent, and items persist after death. Trudging back to an archstone can be a chore, but it’s often worth the time.

Demon's Souls

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Have melee and ranged options 

As much as you may want to go with a pure melee/archery/magic build, it’s not possible in Demon’s Souls. Melee can’t reach distant enemies; projectiles are useless at close range; magic runs dry after a while. Your build doesn’t have to incorporate all three elements, but you should at least have one melee option and one ranged option. 

You don’t have to be equally good at both; just make sure that you have at least one good weapon for hitting enemies up close, and one good strategy for luring out enemies that are farther away. A good bow is also necessary to reach a few suspended items.

Demon’s Souls review: The best reason to own a PS5

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Don’t panic 

This is admittedly more of a general life skill than a Demon’s Souls tip, but it still applies: Don’t panic. Demon’s Souls is a demanding, exacting game, and that means you need to be calm, measured and precise, even when faced with a tough foe or a daunting landscape. 

Trying to button-mash your way through a fight will usually get you killed. Keeping a cool head is particularly important when you want to retrieve your Souls after dying, as your inclination will be to rush to recover your progress. The best strategy in Demon’s Souls is to take it slow, take a breath and take stock of your situation.