FromSoftware’s Souls series has been one of the most impressive, and unlikely catalysts in video games in years. We’re seeing its impact ripple throughout games, in all kinds of spaces and genres. Now, as a PS5 launch title, we have a remake of the original game courtesy of Bluepoint, with tons of Sony dollars behind it.

But despite the blockbuster polish, this is still the original Demon’s Souls, which itself is even more obtuse than its siblings in many ways. I’m really diving in for the first time here, and I imagine many new PS5 owners are as well. So here are some tips based on my early play, that I think are important for making the most of your time (especially early on). Check it out!

Demon’s Souls Beginner’s Guide: 14 Tips for Dying More Gracefully

Experiment, Don’t Stress

At the start of the game, picking a class is part of the setup. But while we’re about to talk about planning stats, you don’t need to stress a ton about what you pick at the starting line. All this choice really governs are your starting stats, and your equipment.

As you play through Demon’s Souls, you have total control over your character build. So feel free to play around and choose what you like best, but don’t worry too much about being locked in.

Level With Care

While your starting class doesn’t matter, your leveling choices do to an extent. You really want to try to specialize once you get an idea of how Demon’s Souls operates. For example, dumping points into strength is necessary if you want to use heavy armor and weapons, but if you’re using a lot of magic you don’t really need to touch strength at all.

You can only level up so easily without grinding, so it’s a good idea to come up with a plan as early as possible.

Starting Gift? 

At the beginning, you also get to choose a starting gift. Most of them are consumables, so they won’t make a long-term impact on your game. The ring you can pick does boost luck, which determines your drops. So most players recommend grabbing that as it’s a nicer boost in the outset than single-use healing items.

Read the Messages!

You’ll see messages left by other players all over the ground, represented by burning fissures in the ground. Some of these messages will be in bad faith, but for the most part players like to be helpful.

You have to use pre-built phrases for messages, so you might need to interpret some shorthand. But from hints on bosses to warnings on hiding foes, these messages are definitely an important part of the Demon’s Souls experience.

Slow Down

You can run and sprint, but Demon’s Souls knows players can be impatient and takes advantage every chance it gets. Sprinting should only be reserved for when it’s needed. Otherwise you need to force yourself to remain calm, as even a regular zombie will mess you up if it blindsides you around a corner.

Similarly, even if you’re tilted from dying several times to a boss, you need to be patient on your way back. Otherwise you’ll make a silly mistake and toss all those souls you gathered in the trash. 

Order of Operations

Demon’s Souls is structured like a hub with various attachments, each one being a distinct “level.” There is no actual order you’re forced to move in, beyond perhaps the obvious first choice and boss. If you’re having a lot of trouble with a section, don’t be afraid to hop back to the Nexus and try a different level.

You might find a preferable grinding area or piece of equipment that helps you get over the next hump.

It’s Okay to Grind

You won’t lose your street cred if you decide to sandbag your way through a little. Demon’s Souls teaches you a lot in terms of skill, but there are still stats and leveling. It can take a while, but if you’re really stuck you can stick around an area close to an Archstone and respawn the enemies as much as you want. Every point counts.

Don’t Cheese (Yet)

If you check out a lot of boss guides and guidance from more experienced players, there’s a good chance you’ll run into bad advice. And by bad, I mean cheesy. Sure, there are plenty of opportunities to exploit weaknesses in the framework, but that isn’t going to equip you for getting a hold of long-term skills.

Hiding behind a corner and chipping at a boss from a distance with arrows will get you through, but what happens when you get to the next boss? Going through Demon’s Souls at face value, at least the first time through, adds a lot to the experience.

Kite Baddies 

Enemies often come in groups, but that doesn’t mean you need to engage them in groups. If you can, it’s always a good idea to “kite” enemies, or try to draw them out one at a time. It’s slower but much more safe, and you need all the help you can get. It’s possible to hit multiple foes at once with your attacks, but you don’t want to take that risk unless you have to.

Watch Where You’re Going

Part of the reason it’s a bad idea to go in swinging is that terrain matters. If you’re in a hallway and start mashing R1 there’s a good chance your sword will bounce off the wall and leave you open to swift and brutal punishment. Watching your footing and surroundings is just as important as managing your stamina and landing hits.

Power vs Speed

Choosing a weapon or fighting style is one thing. But in Demon’s Souls, your armor is perhaps way more important. What you’re wearing has a tremendous impact on your movement speed, which in turn impacts your rolling.

Rolling is your primary method of avoiding damage, so you have to decide if you can handle a more tank-like role or if being more mobile is what you need.

NPCs are Fragile

You can kill pretty much any NPC you meet in the game. This includes your pals in the Nexus, such as the blacksmith or the guy responsible for item storage. If you accidentally murk someone important, you won’t see them again for the rest of the game.

So you may think you’re being funny swinging your sword around at home base, but you can really screw yourself over without meaning to.

Storage and Burdens

Speaking of storage, it’s extremely important here. In Demon’s Souls, you have two inventory metrics, your Equipment and Item “Burdens.” Based on your strength, you’ll be able to only handle a certain weight of equipment, and then an overall inventory weight capacity on top of that.

If you’re full, your movement is impacted. If you go over, you’ll be in really bad shape. Luckily, you can send items you don’t need to your storage wherever you are. So any extra armor, items, resources, or what have you can all be shot back to the Nexus as soon as you pick them up.

Backstabs and Parries

There are two situations that allow you to get huge damage on enemies, for free. If you can get behind an enemy before you attack, you’ll earn a backstab. And if you parry an attack, you have a window for a “Riposte.” Both of these techniques stop the action for a brief animation, and as an added bonus you’ll be invincible while it’s active. This can be a great way to get out of a multi-foe pinch.

That’s all for now — these are what I think are the most important factors to get started in Demon’s Souls, beyond the more straightforward tutorial stuff. Always keep your guard up, have something like a plan for your character, and make sure you’re paying attention.

It’s going to be a tough time either way, but arming yourself with information is one of the most powerful tools in Demon’s Souls. Are you playing a Souls game for the first time? Or do you have other tips you think are just as crucial for newbies? Let us know over at the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!