For this (quite long) Boss Rush, I’m going to be talking about a few different bosses from Demon’s Souls. The Souls series is well known for its tough bosses, among other things. I’m a huge fan of the Souls games, I couldn’t pick a favourite if I tried but for this I’m focusing on bosses only from Demon’s Souls, because I think that some of the ideas the game tried were brilliant and sadly were not used again in later games.
The first boss I’m going to talk about is Phalanx, the boss for World 1-1. This is the first boss in the game and I felt it was great because it showed the game was going to be pretty interesting. The boss itself is a glowing orb that cannot attack the player or defend itself, but it is covered in dozens of normal enemies also called Phalanx. These enemies are blobs of sludge wielding spears and a shield that covers its entire front. The reason given in lore behind this is the human whose soul was twisted into this demon was an archer who was known as a coward, hiding behind her armies shields in every battle.
I love this boss because I think the idea of a boss being useless on it’s own is brilliant. Without its shields all the boss can do is slowly run away from the player. It did give me an introspective moment when I first played the game after I had killed all of the phalanx enemies, I was just following this blob around that the game was telling me to kill. And I did wonder about killing it, was it the right thing to do? It clearly couldn’t hurt me anymore, but in the end you have to defeat the boss for the greater good.
I’m going to go through the bosses in sequential order so next up is the boss of World 2-3, Dragon God. This boss is interesting because it’s not a straight up fight. A race who lived in the area long ago called the Burrowers found the bones of a gigantic dragon floating in lava at the bottom of their mine. They built a temple around them to worship the dragon, and to contain it should it ever come back to life. Once the plague of Demons arrived in the world, their fears were proved valid and the Dragon God was revived, contained by the temple.
The Burrowers also built two magical harpoon guns that could be fired at the dragon to pin it to the cliff. The fight involves sneaking around the temple trying to avoid the gaze of the dragon until you can fire the two guns and trap the dragon, at which point you can go in for the final kill. This is a very tense fight, collapsed pillars block your way so you need to break through them as you progress. If the dragon sees you, it punches into the walkway where it saw you, dealing massive damage. My heart races every time I do this fight, trying to sneak around the arena without getting spotted is wonderfully tense.
The third boss is the Old Hero, boss of World 4-2. This is a fight I love because of the main gimmick of the boss. The premise for this fight is that the boss is blind. He cannot see you at all, but can hear almost every move you make. Running, rolling or accidentally attacking a wall will result in the hero leaping over to your location and slicing you up with a massive curved blade. A strategy a lot of players favour is hitting the boss with arrows while standing in one point of the arena.
This is not a foolproof plan however as if you hit him too much in a short period of time he will work out where you are standing and introduce you to his sword. This fight is a wonderful one, hiding behind pillars as you creep up behind the hero to get in a few quick hits and dive back behind a pillar to stay hidden. All while walking around in no armour to make less noise, meaning one mistake could be the end of you.
The second last boss I’m going to talk about comes directly after the Old Hero, in World 4-3. The Storm King. In the lore of the game the Storm King was a mythological being who was the ruler of storms and skies, worshiped by the Shadow Men, the occupants of World 4. It was said that his wings blocked out the sky and all the Storm Beasts (think flying manta rays) that patrol the skies were his children. When the Demons came to the land they gave the idea of the Storm King form and he became a physical being.
The fight with him is another fantastic one because it plays so unlike the rest of the game. This action RPG that has you journey through castles, mines and tombs as a knight or a mage, gives you a sword in the boss arena called Stormruler. Made by one who considered himself the ruler of storms above the Storm King, it has the ability to split the air apart with a crack of thunder. This allows the player to attack the boss and the smaller enemies in the sky. The boss fight then becomes a game of trying to taunt the boss to come and fly down low to try and attack you, so you can use your new sword to wound it. The fight is fun and with a wonderful soundtrack that makes the whole fight very dramatic.
The final boss I’m going to talk about is the boss of World 5-3. Residing in the final world of the game, this boss is probably the most interesting of all. The Maiden Astraea was the Sixth Saint of the Church, who heard about the Valley of Defilement, the resting place for those who have been thrown away and abandoned. When she found the land her heart was broken by what she saw, a land abandoned by god. She and her companion, Holy Knight Garl Vinland, decided to settle in the valley to help those who remained there.
Once the Demons arrived in the world she decided to forgo the cruel God who had abandoned these people and make a pact with a Demon that allowed her to take away the suffering of those who lived in the valley. After this the residents of the valley began to worship her as their saviour. However many Holy Knights came to the valley to try and kill her, as in their eyes she had become a Demon herself, and all were killed as they tried to make their way to her.
When the player enters her boss arena it is not the Maiden you fight, but her bodyguard, Garl Vinland, who will not attack you unless you try to pass him, at which point he will do what he can to protect the Maiden. Once you defeat Vinland you can proceed forward and talk to the Maiden, who kills herself now that her bodyguard is gone. Following this you get her Demon soul, the final Archdemon soul needed to finish the game.
This boss prompts a lot of discussion over whether the Maiden was a good person, or if she was really a demon – if she deserved to live or die. The player has to kill her to get her demon soul, which allows you to lull the Old One back to sleep and stop the invasion of demons on the world. So most players let discussion rest on the fact that the player does what has to be done to save the world.
These bosses are just some of the bosses in Demon’s Souls, but they’re some of my favourites and I feel the ideas and gimmicks that some of them employ are worthy of being visited again. Perhaps we’ll see some of them in Dark Souls 3 when it releases next year. I find that bosses that make me think about my approach, beyond just wondering the best way to attack, made the game brilliant fun and adds a quirky challenge to the game on top of the difficulty it’s known for.