PS3 action RPG Demon's Souls was infamous for - and defined by - being bastard hard. Bravely, developer From Software has decided to make PS3 and Xbox 360 successor Dark Souls (formerly codenamed Project Dark) even harder.
"The difficulty has been increased greatly over Demon's Souls," wrote a preview from Japanese mega-mag Famitsu, digested by Andriasang.
The biggest change will be to exploration. Maps will be seamlessly connected by waypoints rather than conjoined by a central shrine hub. Game director Hidetaka Miyazaki wants reaching the horizon to be an attainable, natural goal.
Dark Souls may also use a less brooding colour palette, as there's no direct link to the story or setting of Demon's Souls.
Another huge change will be the removal of jobs - character classes. Miyazaki wants rid of any systems that impair play styles, although trade-offs presumably exist to prevent heroes becoming impervious tin-canned Gandalfs.
The weapons of Dark Souls are described as more manoeuvrable, and there will be a greater variety of spells and magic items to use.
As to how the celebrated online component will evolve, Miyazaki won't yet say. A Demon's Souls-style approach - whereby you can help or hinder people as a good or bad spirit in their world - will return. You'll also be able to call for help when really in a pickle.
Soul Tendency, a kind of world karma system, will not return. That's because From Software doesn't want to create and maintain central online servers for Dark Souls.
Demon's Souls arrived in Europe last summer, riding a wave of critical and cult success all the way from Japan. In short, Demon's Souls is the most refreshing action RPG of its age; joyous and exhilarating because it is brutal and frustrating. In a world where publishers avoid risk in order to secure a return on their investments, Demon's Souls shines like a great beacon of hope.
That's why Eurogamer smacked a slobbery 9/10 kiss right on on its chops, concluding: "Demon's Souls is absolutely compelling; dark, detailed, unforgiving, creatively cruel. It gets under your skin and becomes a personal obsession, daring you to probe further into its worlds, fall for more of its traps and overcome more of its impossible challenges; it slaps you in the face with your own incompetence and dares you to overcome it."