Every time I run my eyes across my shelves, I get a little shudder.
It's because I've seen Demon's Souls. My favourite game of 2009 - I've never finished it. I clawed and scraped and scratched my way as deep as I could into its caverns, but eventually my lantern sputtered and I collapsed.
I'd raided everything I could, but the inky blackness ahead was too dark and too foreboding. Behind me lay monster corpses with arrow shafts still embedded in their skin; ahead hulked whispering nightmares, ready to flay my skin and chew my bones.
Hard into the fifth act, I turned off my PS3. I ejected the disc and set the box on the shelf. It sits there to this day, unfinished. And this is the way it should be. Games should be mountains. Some people look at mountains and gather a big lime-green rucksack full of crampons, rope and ice axes. Those people climb the mountain and those people get to the top. And when they descend, society fetes them as brave, weird obsessives who risked everything in pursuit of their pointless goal.
The rest of the people may stop as they scoop fondant fancies, menthol eye-baths and flip-flops into their holiday shopping baskets, look up and go, "Oh neat, a mountain!" Then they go home and eat their new cakes. Those people will never climb the mountain.
Demon's Souls and its sequel Dark Souls understand it should be a mountain. It sits proud, cliff-like in frosty fastness to deter the unprepared. At its base, you'll find all those who tried that vertical learning slope and tumbled straight back down. "This game's too hard!" they bellow. "It's unfair!" But it isn't unfair. It is perhaps the most resolutely fair game of the last ten years: you have exactly the same right to exist in its bleak, blighted world as your enemies.
You have the same right to exist in its bleak, blighted world as your enemies