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Demon's Souls (PS3, 2009)

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The first of five new games on my list, Demon's Souls is an action role-playing masterpiece. Set in a medieval kingdom ravaged by demons, the game tasks players with exploring several diverse game environments, slaying terrible monsters, and collecting weapons, armor, items, and souls, the currency of Demon's Souls. It all sounds typical of the genre, but the game is anything but typical. Employing a unique permadeath mechanic, whereby demon slayers who fall in battle are reduced to a weakened "soul form," and an asymmetrical online multiplayer mode, whereby other players can leave behind hints or invade others' worlds, Demon's Souls brings extraordinary features to a fairly common genre. Add to those some memorable music, spectacular level and enemy design, and a steep difficulty curve that makes victory all the more rewarding, and what's left is one of the very best games of the seventh generation.