So far, Demon's Souls has to be the best game overall that I've played on the PS3, and that includes Grand Theft Auto 4, Dead Space, Resident Evil 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Bioshock, among several others. It's part adventure game, part action RPG (third person perspective), and it's all business. It's the most difficult game I've played since the PS3's launch, mainly because it's painfully unforgiving of mistakes. If you want a grownup version of Zelda, here it is.
If you die in a given level, you go all the way back to that level's beginning, and you continue playing as a disembodied soul (with only half of your hit points) until you earn back your physical body. If you accidentally (or intentionally) attack a friendly NPC to the point where you piss him off, he will continue to attack you until one of you dies. If that character happens to be someone useful, like a blacksmith, merchant, or magic teacher, you're screwed for the remainder of the game.
The game doesn't tell you very much in the beginning, and you have to learn many lessons the hard way. The game constantly autosaves, and you don't have multiple save slots per game; which means if you arrive at a proverbial fork in the road, you can't take one path, see how it works out, stop the game, and restart at the save point to try the other path. All of your decisions are permanent. It's so brutal, that there's not even a pause button. The motto here is "Get good, or die!" Oh, and the second playthrough is much harder, even though you get to keep all of your equipment and skills from the first game.
You get to choose your character's class and gender, and you can fully customize the character's physical and facial features, and later in the game, the armor/attire. The class determines only how you begin the game, but after the first level, you can customize your skill set any way you want. You can focus on spells (magic and miracles), melee skills, or a balance. There are several different types of ranged and melee weapons (bows, swords, axes, etc.). You collect souls from the enemies that you kill, and use those souls for both currency and increasing your skill levels.
The game has a lot of depth, and there are some side quests aside from the main quest (beating the bosses of five worlds, then the final boss). There's a good variety of enemies and bosses, the graphics are beautiful, the character motions are smooth, and in the Asian imports, the English dubs and subtitles are relatively well done, although some of the descriptive text suffered a bit in translation (such as item descriptions in your inventory). Hopefully, that will be tweaked for the North American release in October 2009 (currently available for pre-order). I imported the Chinese version earlier this year, and it's completely in English (per console settings) within the game, but the full manual is in Chinese only, with only a fold-out control sheet in English.
Like my grandmother used to say, beware metallic black, fire-breathing, dual-uchigatana-wielding skeletons. It's doubtful that they have your best interests in mind.
Demon's Souls Intro
Demon's Souls Trailer
Demon's Souls (PS3)