"Soul of the mind, key to life's ether. Soul of the lost, withdrawn from its vessel. Let strength be granted so the world might be mended. So the world might be mended."
— The Maiden in Black
Demon's Souls is a Playstation 3 game made by FROM Software and published by Atlus.The game is set in the Kingdom of Boletaria, which was led to great prosperity by King Allant XII with the use of the power of souls, until it was beset by a strange colorless fog that isolated it from the rest of the world and brought soul-hungry demons with it.After the world was let known of Boletaria's plight, legend spread of the chaos within the kingdom wreaked upon it by a beast from the Nexus and of the demons that grew ever more powerful with each soul they devoured. Many people went to Boletaria, either to save it from its plight or lured by the prospect of the power of souls, but all were lost in its chaos.You are one such person, like many others now dead and trapped in the fog with your soul bound to the Nexus. From there, your journey begins...Infamous for being extremely hard due to the game playing with Trial-and-Error Gameplay. For this, it has gained wide praise, as the game manages to be hard but fair.In reality, it's hardly Nintendo Hard — rather, it's Difficult but Awesome in game form, as it encourages you to learn from your mistakes to become an experienced demon slayer. Running headfirst into battle swinging the sword like a madman hoping to hit something will only get you killed, and again, and again... and again.The game includes a very unusual online multiplayer mode that avoids direct interaction almost entirely. You will often see ghostly forms of other players fading in and out of your game; you are unable to interact with them in any way, but it adds even more to the atmosphere of the game. When other players die in a dungeon, they leave behind a bloodstain which shows a replay (in ghost form) of how they died or a message that can contain a helpful tip. The ghost-replay can be helpful in showing you how not to die just ahead like that other guy. Useful tips can be rewarded, which gives the player who left them a temporary power boost; however, this doesn't stop some players from giving deliberately bad advice For the Evulz. Under certain conditions, you can receive direct help by sending out a summons that will randomly pull another player into your world, while others are out to kill you for the Souls that you hold and can enter your world uninvited. Fun times.A Spiritual Successor / Non-Linear Sequel, Dark Souls, was released on October 4th, 2011.
This game provides examples of:
Absurdly High Level Cap: Your starting level is between 1 and 6 depending on your chosen class, you gain a level each time you increase a stat by one point, and if you grind every stat to 99, your max level will be between 709 and 713. Each level up increases the number of souls needed to level up further, starting at triple digits and ultimately needing millions of souls to level up each time. It's perfectly possible to finish the game without even reaching 100. Most finish it within the 80-99 range.
Always Night: Tower of Latria and Valley of Defilement, it's possible that this was caused by the Colourless Fog.
Some of the higher level spells and miracles, like Firestorm, Soulsucker, and God's Wrath, fall under this in PVE. Sure, they do huge amounts of damage to enemies. But their charging times are painfully long (Sometimes reaching up to 4 seconds) and can only be done at very close range. And with enemies that can close the distance between themselves and you pretty quickly, and can often kill you in less than a handful of hits, it is usually far too risky to try and use them.
They are very helpful against certain swarming enemies, however.
Awesome yet Practical: Many of the more spectacular spells and weapons are every bit as effective as they look.
Batman Gambit The Maiden in Black can wait for someone or a collective to clear the way so she can lull The Old One back to sleep. Of course, the player can decide to double cross her at the end, making himself the Spanner in the Works.
Beef Gate: Happens a lot in this game, Shrine of Storms being a notable example.
BFS: A few of the two-handed weapons, such as the Northern Regalia or the Dragon Bone Smasher. The latter doesn't even have a blade, it just crushes enemies.
Some enemies can also wield this, such as the Penetrator and the Gold Skeletons in the Shrine of Storms world.
Bladder of Steel: You cannot pause the game at all. The game continues to run whether you're checking your inventory, writing messages, or even changing game options. The only way to stop the game is to quit from the menu. However, enemies don't respawn or chase you without attracting attention, so it's generally safe to park yourself somewhere unless a black phantom invades your game.
Blob Monster: Phalanx. Played with however, since it's actually some kind of magical glowy thing covered in slug-like, shield and spear wielding Hoplite monsters.
Boring, but Practical: You can get through certain stages by sniping the demon to death. It takes a long time, so you better have a lot of extra arrows in case you miss. And even then, you might need to go back and get some more.
The official strategy guide even flat-out states that the easiest way to kill the red dragon is to do this. Sure, you can kill it with melee weapons, but why the hell would you when it can kill you with one swipe of its tail?
Spears. Sure, you can use all kinds of exotic and/or gigantic weapons, but the simple combo of excellent range and accuracy is hard to pass up. Not to mention the ability to poke your opponent from behind a shield, especially if you have the Endurance to block boss-swipes and still attack without lowering it.
Boss Battle: Happens at the end of every section of every level.
Attack Its Weak Point: The Adjudicator boasts not one, but two weak points — a giant gash in its side and the bird on its head.
Bait-and-Switch Boss: At the end of 1-3, you find a typical Fat Official, the likes of which you've been fighting as regular enemies before. At first it looks like he would be the boss, but suddenly he gets stabbed from behind and thrown out by the real boss, The Penetrator.
Boss Arena Idiocy: So, just why does the Dragon God park itself right in front of two ballistas?
They were placed there by the Burrowers to be used in the event the Dragon God ever resurrected. They performed their duty admirably.
Boss Corridor: A tunnel leads up to the room where you battle Maiden Astraea and Garl Vinland. The corridor leading to where you fight the Dragon God gets extra points for giving you a view of the boss and its primary attack in all its glory. Finally, an example before the False King, after the Blue Dragon. Partial examples before the Storm King and Old Monk - they are only empty after you fight and beat the Old Hero and Maneater in each corridor, respectively.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The Vanguard at the end of the tutorial, to serve the plot. Beating him is acknowledged by the game, earning the player a decent reward for his or her trouble...and also nets the player the privilege of being killed in a cutscene encounter with the Dragon God, end-boss of Stonefang Tunnel.
Mirror Boss: Old Monk, of the "equivalency" rather than "identical" type. You actually fight another player in Black Phantom form if you are online.
Stationary Boss: The Adjudicator (which isn't actually stationary, but is so immobile it might as well be), The Leechmonger, The Dragon God
Also a Wake-Up Call Boss. Every boss prior (Phalanx, Tower Knight and Armored Spider) is generally easy to beat once you figure out how. Flamelurker is hard even if you know exactly what to do.
Abuse the AI by sneaking behind it and sniping it with spells, bolts, or arrows?
The only spells that won't trigger the Flamelurker AI (and a Curb-stomp on the player, after getting trapped in the very narrow blind spot behind him) are Plague and Poison Cloud. They're both derived from Boss Souls, and both bosses are in the Valley of Defilement.
But Thou Must: When the Monumental tells you its plan to defeat the Old One, you get to decline to helping it. It then points out that your only other option is staying in the Nexus for all eternity, slowly withering away.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The Mirdan Hammer, called a Lucerne hammer in the real world. Justified trope; there's probably no Lucerne, Switzerland in the Demon's Souls world.
Captain Ersatz: The assassins that you see after the Tower Knight's arch stone look a lot like Altair. The Tower Knight himself bares a striking resemblance to Grunbeld.
Chainmail Bikini: Notably averted. All character classes wear the armors the way they should be worn.
Though, played straight with some of the starting outfits - women knights' fluted plate leaves their faces visible and emphasizes their buttocks, while female thieves masks are see-through and their shirts are V-neck.
Class Z: At least a type 404 version is the ultimate fate of the world if the Old One is not stopped. The Old One is literally nothingness, and lands consumed by the colorless fog are erased from existence. If left unchecked, this happens to every place in the world, effectively annihilating the setting. As there are both mentions of God creating the Old One and of the Old One actually being God, this may instead be an Original Negation, depending on whether the Old One is the creation of God or God itself.
Competitive Balance: Each character class has (or at least, starts with) its own specialty so as not to make any single one stand out (at the start).
Contractual Boss Immunity: Mostly averted; status effects can help a lot (or even be gamebreakers with exploits) when fighting most bosses and strong normal enemies. They are also helpful in PVP.
Closest it gets is the tutorial. After that, you kill everything and everybody (and some of the NPCs can be so hard they might as well be bosses). 2nd place is the dragon god, because if there weren't balistas on his stage you would be done for.
Contractual Immortality: The Monumental is the only NPC that reacts to being attacked without taking damage and it chides you for wasting your energy.
Convection Schmonvection: Played straight with lava, as the player can walk right up to the edge without injury. Somewhat (maybe accidentally) averted with the various dragons' firebreath, as it has a pretty messy hitbox and may cause damage without actually coming in contact, though a fire that size should still have a much larger area of effect.
Cosmic Keystone: The Monumental and the player, depending on his or her choice.
Counter Attack: It may be pretty hard to pull off (as in if you're timing is off by a millisecond you're eating whatever attack you were trying to stop) but you can parry the attacks of most humanoid enemies, at least those with weapons, if you're using a small shield, some weapons, or even with your empty offhand by hitting L2 at the right time. If timed right it staggers them back and leaves them open, hitting the light attack button immediately after a parry executes a downright brutal counterattack. Swords, spears, and other stabby weapons impale your enemy before you slam them to the ground for more damage than you could hope to do with any other physical attack, usually instantly killing the poor sap you just parried. Blunt weapons smash your target in the pelvis before slamming them in the chest and crushing them to the floor, doing, wait for it, just as much damage as their stabby counterparts. Oh, and the one boss 1-3 that's human? And the sub-boss Garl in 5-3? Yeah, these work on them.
You are, however, advised not to attempt to parry Garl's Bramd when he starts two-handing it. He'll just plow through your parry and kill you. Similarly, the Penetrator's most dangerous attack, the lunging impale stab of death that autotracks to an extent, is unblockable and can't be parried, and will almost certainly kill you on the spot if you try.
Crapsack World: Let's see, there's Boletaria, a kingdom that is considered a paradise on Earth in comparison to other lands, but is supported by an army of slaves (the Dreglings). The land of the burrowers is a dangerously difficult-to-navigate system of mines and caves that go all the way down to molten magma, wherein lie a powerful fire demon and the bones of a dragon god that the burrowers actually expected to revive one day (given that they created a sword with the sole purpose of killing it, as well as two giant javelin launchers to pin the sucker down). The Tower of Latria was taken over by a madman an unknown amount of time ago, but couldn't have been a land of sunshine and roses before the Old Monk showed up, seeing as the place had obviously been set up as a prison from its construction. The land of the Shadowmen is the home of a long lost tribe of warriors who gave far more care to the dead than they ever did to the living, and whose "gods" include a gigantic man-eating monster and a monstrous flying manta ray. Finally, there's the Valley Of Defilement, where all the garbage is sent, whether it's things, animals, or people. It's the garbage dump of the world, and it was a nightmarish place even before the demons came: when the Maiden Astraea came and became a demon, conditions actually improved. The water is toxic, poisoning anyone who isn't a local, and there are plague rats, gigantic maneating insects, the nightmarish plague babies, a monster that is nothing more than a horrendous mass of leeches, and apparently some of the garbage was there so long that it actually gained sentience and started moving around! And let's not forget: There is no god, only the Old One This game brings "Crapsack" to a whole new level.
Dark Is Not Evil: The Maiden in Black. She has a pretty sinister moniker and an overall creepy vibe (what with her wax-covered eyes), and happens to be one of the most powerful demons around. However, she is the only one who can lull the Old One back to sleep, and wants nothing more than to do so.
Astraea, the maiden saint; you find her on a pile of human corpses in an enormous pool of plague-infected blood, surrounded and worshiped by the vile things dwelling in the swamp. On the other hand, she seems to genuinely care for the poor once-people in the valley, she doesn't attack you at all, and it's very likely she killed only in self-defense.
Those vile things in the swamp? Fucking aborted fetuses.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: You can die as many times as you want; the only penalty is loss of your currency and a shift in your World Tendency. In-story, this is explained as a phenomenon that only happens when one dies in Boletaria, and continues after the soul is bound to the Nexus.
It becomes a lot less cheap if you take the World and Character Tendencies into account. The more you die (except for spirit form deaths, if you've patched), the blacker it gets, and when it's all dark, it becomes harder.
Dug Too Deep: Implied in the backstory of Stonefang, when the precursors uncovered the Dragon God... and ever since, took measures to ensure it does not get out.
The Dung Ages: The entire game world (spearheaded by the Valley of Defilement) seems to contain nothing but pain and despair. Made obvious through the vendors, who in several cases are covered in crap and seemingly unable to stand upright. Most of the Mooks have the appearance of terminally ill humanoids.
There is usually one of these per world. In Boletarian Palace, we have the Red-Eyed Knights; in Stonefang Tunnels, there are the giant bearbugs; in Shrine of Storms, both the Dual-Wielding Black Skeletons and the Golden Skeletons can count (even worse with their Black Phantom counterparts). The winners, however, are the Giant Depraved Ones from the Valley of Defilement, what with being extremely powerful and fast. Their Black Phantom counterparts? Oh boy.
The Giant Bearbugs are basically Mighty Glaciers. Giant and hugely armoured, but extremely slow, and they deal fairly low and easily dodge-able damage. Really you just need to quickly move around them and be on your way. The tower of Latria's prison guards could also count as this. They have powerful long range attacks that will tear you to bits if your character doesn't have good magic defense, and if you try to close the distance, they can hit you with a paralyzing attack before running over and eating your brain.
A problem with some of the Giant Bearbugs, though, is that they're in the way so you can't just go around them.
Engrish: Fixed in the USA and European localisation. But in the Chinese/English version, while the NPCs and most important information show Surprisingly Good English, some of the flavor text is borderline gibberish (although it's generally comprehensible).
Exploding Barrels: Found around the place, although they explode only when set on fire. Hitting them with regular weaponry just breaks them.
Of course, God help you if your weapon is on fire when you hit it.
Fake Difficulty: Normally, the game avoids this. Deaths are due to mistakes, and generally your own fault. However, it's in full swing in the Valley of Defilement. The problem is that your enemies are fast, painful, and hardy. You can be painful and hardy, but 95% of the second stage of the Valley of Defilement severely inhibits your movement, disallowing you from running normally, sprinting at all, and rolling, which is the only thing that keeps you alive in this game. The result is being forced to get smashed by giants with clubs when you're barely able to evade them, and even less able to retaliate, the only exception being if you can engage the enemy on the very scarce land, which isn't possible in some cases.
Fake Ultimate Mook: The Blue-Eyed Knights. They can do a lot of damage to you early in the game, but their attacks are predictable and they're quite easy to outmaneuver.
The fireball-using Fat Officials in Stonefang Tunnel can count as this to players who first meet them, as they are the first enemies that use spells if the player hasn't been to the Tower of Latria yet.
Failure Is the Only Option: The tutorial ends with you coming face-to-face with the monstrous Vanguard in a very enclosed space. You're supposed to die so that your soul can be bound to the Nexus. If you're good enough, however, you can kill the Vanguard, which nets you a lot of souls. And then you die anyway, so that your soul can be bound to the Nexus.
Then there are the Dragon weapons, which have permanent fire effects.
For Massive Damage: Counter-attacks and backstabs are the most basic ways of achieving this, however some weapons have 'sweet spots' that deal extra damage when you strike an enemy with a certain part. Note that counter-attacks can be trigger on any enemy whose attacks you can block; those Blue-Eyed Knights? One good counter-attack (which is actually easy enough to do consistently) and they're done for the count. You can, in fact, kill everything in 1-1 with a single counter attack before you even level up.
The epitome of this is the Secret Dagger, whose sweet spot damage triggers (and thus adds onto) backstab and counter-attack strikes. Add to this that this dagger can have its damage in this area further enhanced by imbuing it with Marrowstone, and your potential for massive damage sky-rockets.
Foreshadowing: One of the spears you can find is called a revelation from god. It's made completely from wood. Since there is no god, only the Old One, that means the spear was made from a piece of the Old One himself.
Friendly Fireproof: Generally played straight. An arrow launched at you by an enemy will just pass through other enemies, though averted in the case of the Blue Dragon, who will toast anything, allied or not.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Meat Cleaver, a large sword made from the Adjudicator demon's soul, has the best stat boosts in the game (it gets boosted by YOUR stats, not the other way around), having A's in strength and dexterity, and an S in Faith, meaning that as long as you work on those stats, its damage scales up much faster than any other weapon in the game. Although it is a bit bigger and slower than other swords, once the player passes a certain threshold, its damage leaves all other weapons in the dust.
The Blueblood sword is probably closer; it requires you to finish arguably the hardest world before it can be forged, it requires a large spread of stats, and its true power requires an unorthodox stat-spread (it scales best off Luck, which is otherwise considered useless). It's quite fast, has massive power, and can be enchanted (most of the other candidates can't be), making it an almost instant gamebreaker. As a bonus, it requires forging from a broken sword.
While not necessarily superior to either the Meat Cleaver or Blueblood Sword in performance, some of the fully upgraded weapon paths can fall under this due to how many of them require farming for ore to forge. The fully upgraded "Sharp" path is particularly infamous as it requires getting a rare ore which can only be dropped by 2 types of enemies (of which there can only be one of each in the area they drop them) and the possibility of them dropping is incredibly low. Comparatively speaking, forging either the Meat Cleaver or Blueblood Sword is relatively simple (or at least less of a test in patience).
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Kind of zig-zags. You can't jump even by running off ledges, and just about any ledge higher than your knees is off-limits, but with short ledges that aren't meant to block off out-of-bounds areas, you can move against them and hoist yourself up.
Jerkass: Patches the Hyena, Satsuki, Sage Freke's disciple, and the Filthy Woman.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Sage Freke originally starts out as a wizard seeking to understand the power and nature of souls. The further into the adventure, the more... disturbingly fascinated he becomes with the power and knowledge they grant him, until at the end, he urges the Player Character to not lull the Old One to sleep, and let the world continue on in its broken, chaotic state, so he can continue to utilize the Soul Arts. By following this advice, the Player Character does as well.
Justified Tutorial: It's your entrance into Boletaria. It can be skipped, though, but it's recommended to go through it for the souls and extra items.
Katanas Are Just Better: Played with. Katanas are only better if you have the DEX to back them up. They also have some of the lowest durability in the game, making you a fine target for those that enjoy the weapon breaking spear. They are, however, very good on your stamina, have a very long range, and can exploit a tactic called pushlocking in PvP to make it all but impossible for the player it's used on to strike back.
...Until the PvP gamers figured out that the easiest way to break pushlocking is to switch weapons.
Kevlard: The Adjudicator qualifies, although the Meat Cleaver stuck in his chest was a pretty good indicator of where you had to hit him.
Last of His Kind: The Monumental. It sits on the higher of two floors, each with long walls lined with dozens of its similarly-dressed companions, all dead, each with a snuffed candle in front of them. The one living Monumental is the only one with a lit candle.
Light Is Not Good: Maiden Astraea. A once pious person, she did not take it well when her faith shattered, taking on the soul of a demon and ruling over the corrupted denizens of the Valley of Defilement. She is described as having "the most impure soul."
Granted, her alleged impurity becomes more of an Informed Flaw when you realize that switching her loyalty from God to demons wasn't really much of a change at all — see below.
Miracles may seem all dandy and righteous, but when you realize they require demon's souls to learn (not at all unlike spells) and that God might not exist or even be the Old One, well...
Light is Good: Astrea's soul is impure because she is absorbing as much of the filth as she can, to make the Valley a slightly better place for the denizens. She is not so much ruling over them as comforting them.
Lord British Postulate: the Hopeless Boss Fight at the start of the game has a health bar just like all the other, non-hopeless bosses. The dev team anticipated this trope and added a scripted kill-the-player-instantly sequence in the very next hallway, just in case.
Lost Forever: Many, many items and demon souls. The main reason for this is because reloading a previously saved file does not mend your mistake; once it's done, it's done for the entirety of this playthrough. For example, if a crucial NPC dies, anything related to them are lost until you start New Game+. In some cases, you have to make a choice on which item to obtain, losing the other in the process. World Tendencies also seem to affect this greatly. One of the biggest replay values of the game is trying out different options and collecting previously unobtained items.
Made of Iron: All of the NPCs are incredibly sturdy and have a lot of health, but special mention has to go to Biorr. He helps you in your fight against the Penetrator and the Blue Dragon, and both times, he takes the brunt of the punishment, the kind which you'd die from easily, yet he can keep taking all the damage and keep standing up to charge.
To put that into perspective, when you see him the second time, Biorr takes repeated blasts from an enemy that would kill you in one hit (at around 600 HP). Biorr takes 20 HP from the attack. This becomes less fun when dealing with enemy unique NPCs (Rydell has more HP than you can max out at in the game).
Justified trope when you look at Biorr's equipment. He has the full Brushwood set, a Purple Flame Shield, and possibly a Flame Resistance Ring, meaning that he laughs at flame attacks. This set up can turn make Flame Lurker reasonably easy as barring his claws, he loses much of his fire power.
The Magic Comes Back: The awakening of the Old One marked the return of the long-forgotten Soul Arts. Magic could be cast and miracles of God could be invoked again.
The Magic Goes Away: When the Old One is lulled back to sleep, the Soul Arts disappear once more.
Mega Manning: You can learn powerful magic or abilities from boss demons by taking their souls to Sage Freke, Yuria or Saint Urbain.
By taking them to Ed the Blacksmith you can make powerful unique weapons with different effects and uses.
Ms. Fanservice: Yuria, if the fan art is anything to go by. Furthermore, some players get a giggle out of leaving "Sticky White Stuff" messages near her in the Nexus.
While fanarts have made Yuria much cuter than she is (she looks like your standard Western concept of witches, big nose and all, only younger), the Maiden In Black, on the other hand seems to be hitting the right spots for some people's... tastes.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Mephistopheles (she will task you with killing the other inhabitants of the Nexus, and will attack you with the Soulsucker when you've accomplished it), Miralda the Executioner (will attack you whether she's alive or a Black Phantom), and Yurt the Silent Chief (one boss fight after you free him in the Tower of Latria, he starts assassinating people in the Nexus).
YMMV on Mephistopheles, depending on your play strategy. The rewards she offers for killing your fellow Nexus inhabitants are generally rare or unique, including a ring that can only be obtained by completing the list. Furthermore, her trigger for appearing in The Nexus is Pure Black Character Tendency, which can only be gained by murdering friendly NPCs (but not the ones on the list, or you'll miss the rewards), or other players as a black phantom. In this case you'll want to work with/for her, until you assassinate the last target and she turns on you, at which point you'll want to run, or kill her.
The series as a whole is considered the modern reigning champion of this trope, along with the Shin Megami Tensei series. Oh, and DS was published by Atlus, ShinMegaTen's developer. Coincidence? Pfft, no.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Release Yurt from his prison, and he will happily begin butchering all the various helpful NPCs in the Nexus. And when he's done with them, he'll come for you!
Not So Different: Sage Freke and his follower despise Saint Urbain and his followers as fools worshipping a false and most definitely malevolent god. Likewise, Urbain condemns Freke and his ilk as heretics who rely on demon magic for power. Both sides are absolutely correct!
Obviously Evil: Yurt the Silent Chief. The menacing voice... the Sauron-like armor... the sinister sickle-like weapon... the statement that "Life is not so precious." Really, though, he's in a cage when you meet him. If he is anything, it is not good.
Only the Worthy May Pass: Only when you impress King Doran with your fighting prowess will he let you have the Demonbrand.
Our Ghosts Are Different: When you die, you return in "Soul Form" (this will probably happen a lot). There are also friendly blue phantoms as well as hostile black phantoms, unusual in that players as well as NPCs can become them. While NPCs and their black phantom incarnations are gone for good when you kill them, there are a number of ways for players to come Back from the Dead.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: 1st stage after the Tutorial, there's a Red-eyed Knight. You are not supposed to casually take them on until about 30 character levels later. You can, however, poisition yourself so the character AI walks off a cliff and kills itself from falling damage. This enemy respawns every time you enter the stage, and you get a lot of souls from it.
Piñata Enemy: The miners with sacks and the Crystal Geckos. Both appear only a set amount of times per playthrough, making them very, very valuable.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Played straight in that gender doesn't affect base stats; averted in that gender does affect which armor the player can wear.
Further averted by the female having exclusive access to Silver Bracelets (a gauntlet which increases the amount of souls you get every time you kill an enemy), the Binded armor set (light armor with high fire resistance, zero stamina regeneration penalty, and can be acquired as early as after the first boss) and others.
On the other hand, males have exclusive access to the Old King armor Set (heavy armor with high fire resist and no stamina penalty), Dark Silver armor set (heavy armor with remarkably high magic resistance), and others. Overall, men get more suits of armour.
Ravens and Crows: They're present in various locations, usually feasting on the abundant corpses. The Shrine of Storms implicitly even has a talking crow (popularly called Sparkly) who you can trade "sparkly" items with.
One sure way to tell a strong enemy from the rest is whether or not its eyes glow.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: The two dragons in World 1-1. The red dragon is standing at its nest in an attack position, searching for prey, and will immediately come after you if you dare set foot on the bridge several hundred feet away. The blue dragon, meanwhile, is taking a nap.
Save Scumming: Deliberately prevented; the game autosaves almost constantly.
Sequence Breaking: Normally, while advancing in a level, the player has to go through fog gates, usually 3. In world 4-1, however, it is possible to bypass all 3 fog gates and finish the level in 5 minutes.
The game itself pulls one on you: having New Game+ means that you can now go slaughter all those hapless Demons with your overpowered stats a la traditional JRPG, right? Wrong, with each successive New Game Plus you take, the game gets harder! The Dev Team Thinks of Everything indeed.
Another example is simply having 99 on all stats, due to the insanely curving amount of Souls needed to upgrade the more you go on. Full Brushwood Armor set (heaviest in the game) and dual wielding the Dragon Bone/Keel Smasher (also the heaviest in the game), and still able to keep it under half maximum equip burden for normal rolling? Experienced players' responses would be somewhere along the lines of: "Been there, done that."
The Large Sword of Moonlight is this game's entry in the lineage of powerful melee weapons named Moonlight in From Software games.
Some of the character names are references to Armored Core: For Answer. Examples include Ostrava/Otsdarva, Old King Doran and Patches the Hyena/Patch the Good Luck (bonus point for both being dirty cowards).
Shield-Bearing Mook: Hoplites, most Blue-Eye and Red-Eye Knights, certain Black Phantoms. Also includes a Shield Bearing Boss: the appropriately-named Tower Knight, who bears an appropriately-sized tower shield for his stature, and spans several stories in height.
Slasher Smile: The Fat Officials sport permanent and very unsettling rictus grins.
Sleeper Hit: Developed by a relatively small and obscure developer, released at a time when numerous big titles were coming out, absolutely no advertising or fanfare, Nintendo Hard... and still sold well. Enough to qualify for a Greatest Hits hits release and extend the lifetime of the servers. Also a critical hit, scoring The Game of the Year at both IGN and Gamespot. Who saw that coming?
Its spiritual sequel/possible actual sequel Dark Souls and that game's own followup Dark Souls II have only bolstered this game's reputation since, as the foundation for the entire Souls pseudoseries.
Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship: Somewhat. The various straight swords (with the exception of rapier-type weaponry) can be used to both slash and thrust, although their effectiveness in doing so varies. For example, the long sword is a balanced weapon and can be used to slash and thrust, although it's not as effective at slashing as the falchion and not as effective at thrusting as the rapier.
Socketed Equipment: Almost every weapon and shield in the game can be imbued with "Transmogrified sprites," or shards of special stone, that can affect how weapons deal damage, what sorts of damage weapons deal, what player abilities can affect a weapon's damage output and by how much, etc.; and can even confer small bonuses to health or mana regeneration. By imbuing mundane weapons with certain demon souls, you can change weapons into special unique versions with vastly different properties. These and other special weapons you find throughout the game can be further enhanced by applying the souls of infant demons.
Magic is fueled by the energy of souls. The npcs are pretty verbal about this, and is part of the reason why magic in any form is considered a dark art by the church.
To a degree, the player character and demons. The level-up system works by absorbing the souls of the fallen into one's own soul, thus bolstering it.
The Old One is a being that has a literally infinite appetite for souls. It's never said that it actually grows stronger or is fueled off of these, though; rather, a place devoid of souls is open to invasion by the deep fog.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: In order to save Saint Urbain, you are required to fall for the exact same painfully obvious trap that he fell for — one which his disciples warn you about multiple times, in fact.
Patches: Nothing here is stolen, I swear. I no longer partake in the whole "corpse-robbing" thing. Yeah… No, I'm completely free from my vice. My old mother would be proud indeed!
Swamps Are Evil: The Valley of Defilement is a sprawling toxic swamp, populated by all manners of fetid creatures, from giant blood-sucking mosquitoes, depraved people, plagued rats, and is home to the most "impure soul of all." It's also That One Level.
Take Up My Sword: In a way. If the player chooses to calm the Old One, he or she becomes the new Monumental afterwards.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the Valley of Defilement, AI human black phantoms (who normally operate under the same limitations as you) are not encumbered (or poisoned) by the swamp at all.
Neither is any enemy for that matter. That includes the Giant Depraved Ones, who can't be stunned, have loads of HP, and will relentlessly pursue and attack you with their heavy-hitting giant clubs. Their Black Phantom versions are probably the most hated enemy in the game.
Tin Tyrant: Many enemies and bosses including the Tower Knight and the Penetrator, and quite possibly you as well depending on your armor choice.
Too Awesome to Use: Both played straight and averted; averted by the main resource in the game, souls, due to the death penalty that promotes using them up whenever you get the chance, but it's also easy to start hoarding other items, even in situations where they would be very useful.
The Stone of Ephemeral Eyes certainly qualifies. It can instantly revive you in soul form. But there is only a small, set number of them per playthrough, and the only enemies who have a chance to drop them are the Giant Depraved Ones and the Plague Babies, both located in the much-hated Valley of Defilement.
Though with the stone, there's also the fact that defeating a boss has the exact same effect. Sometimes you might just feel that you're so close that you might as well save the stone and defeat the boss in soul form. This won't shift the world tendency towards white (easier) as much as killing the boss in body form, however.
Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Fitting the game's "hard but fair" image, you're encouraged to repeatedly try against bosses and enemies to try what they're weakest against, and also be aware of what happens if you have to play through a section repeatedly. Messages from prior players can help with this, but there are indeed a few trolls among them.
Troubled, but Cute: The Maiden in Black. She's gloomy, she's blind, but her voice and demeanor are just precious.
Turns Red: When his health is getting low, the Flamelurker burns brighter and he attacks a lot more aggressively.
The kind of accent someone with a name like "Evetta Muradasilova" has.
Unstable Equilibrium: The more you die (except for spirit form deaths, if you've patched), the blacker it gets, and when it's all dark, it becomes harder. It's not too bad as you don't lose your items, plus some good things only appear when the world is Pure Black.
Black Tendency is extremely easy to get. White Tendency is much harder to get, which makes the realization that it makes the game easier kind of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment (boosting a world tendency towards White requires not dying, killing powerful bosses, and certain Guide Dang It moments, in a game that's unashamedly Nintendo Hard).
Ultimate Blacksmith: Ed, who can upgrade weapons using every kind of ore. And he's one of the few remaining lucid people in Stonefang.
Weaksauce Weakness: The Adjudicator, who is every bit horrifying, has one major weakness: people moving clockwise. Every one of its powerful attacks can be dodged if you run clockwise around it.
Whip It Good: A decidedly non-sexual example: Fat Officials in Stonefang carry riding crops instead of their signature Great Axes. They don't hurt a lot, but if you block it, expect it to take off about 3/4ths of your stamina bar, if not completely guard break it. God forbid they follow up with their fire spell.
Although according to the Maiden in Black, what we see may actually be The Old One's lair, or at least a massive shell that protects the true creature from harm. Since the Maiden in Black can't actually lull the Old One back to sleep until she's gone a good ways inside, this is a much more likely scenario.
Wreaking Havok: There's plenty of destructable set pieces in all the worlds, but the real fun comes from killing basic enemies and running into their corpses and enjoying the subsequent flailing of disturbing creature's ligaments.
Xanatos Gambit: The majority of the game involves the protagonist doing the legwork for one, since the Old One will not allow the player near it until there are no longer any demons left to feed it souls. The protagonist has to go out and do the killing before anything can be done about the Old One. So either you feed it souls like it wants, or refuse and wander the fog until you wither away or something kills you, which would also please the Old One.