Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
The Souls series prides itself on its extreme difficulty, and one of the mitigating factors for getting through the games is calling on help from other players. Multiplayer plays a huge role in the Dark Souls games, and though it's not quite so prominent in Demon's Souls, the general idea of summoning other players remains intact.
This guide will teach you the ins and outs of Demon's Souls multiplayer. The rules are less complex than they are in Dark Souls, but there are still a few things you should know before you summon someone - or are summoned.
Phantoms, Bloodstains, and Messages
The most common forms of multiplayer interact that you'll see in Demon's Souls are also the most passive. These consist of Phantoms, Bloodstains, and Messages, and you'll see them all when you have multiplayer turned on. We'll have a look at all three.
Phantoms are white figures that appear periodically as you're exploring. These Phantoms are players in other worlds, going about their business. You may see them walking, running, healing, fighting, gesturing... whatever. These Phantoms generally have no bearing on your world besides neat aesthetics, though occasionally you may see one do something that can provide a hint about your surroundings.
Bloodstains are patches of blood on the ground. Bloodstains indicate a spot that a player has died. If you interact with the Bloodstain you'll evoke a Black Phantom who will play out the death. You'll only see the player, no one else, so you may need to rely on context clues to puzzle out how they died. Bloodstains are also useful for providing hints as to your surroundings, and may suggest that an area is deadlier than you thought.
Messages are flaming red runes that appear on the ground. Constructed out of pre-made words, phrases, and sentence structures, Messages can be left behind to communicate with other players. Though often (perhaps usually) used for comedic effect, Messages can provide clues about the environment and lead you to secrets that you might otherwise miss. Messages need not be truthful, so don't automatically assume that every Message you read is steering you down the right path. You can rate a message as 'Fine' or 'Foul' via the Touch Pad (the big button in the middle of your PS5 controller), and a message with a high amount of Appraisals is usually safe to trust.
You can leave your own Messages by pressing the left side of the Touch Pad and choosing Message. If you want to delete the message you can interact with it and hit the menu button (beside the triangle button) to get rid of it.
One half of cooperative multiplayer in Demon's Souls is summoning other players to help you. This can be done by interacting with Soul Signs. Soul Signs are glowing blue symbols that appear on the ground, laid down by another player. When you touch a Soul Sign you will - assuming the connection remains stable - pull that player into your game to help you as a Blue Phantom. They will remain with you until you die, they die, you defeat a boss battle, or one of the two of you dismisses the other player.
Soul Signs do not appear for everyone when a player lays one down in their own world. You can only see a Soul Sign if you are within a certain level range of the player. The range is around twenty levels in total, both below and above your own level. For example, if you were level 20 and you entered an area with active Soul Signs, you would see Soul Signs from players anywhere from roughly level 10 to level 30. This prevents players who are much too strong for an area from upsetting the balance when they're summoned.
(That said, plenty of players play low-level games, and may trample all over the opposition when summoned. Sometimes you get lucky.)
Blue Phantoms cannot hurt you or be hurt by you, and can only attack monsters or Red Phantoms. Blue Phantoms also can't interact with the majority of the world, such as pulling switches, harming NPCs, or picking up items, other than items you yourself have dropped via the item menu.
Players cannot verbally interact with one another in Demon's Souls. The most direct form of communication you'll have with your summoned Blue Phantoms is via Gestures. You can access Gestures via your Toolbelt menu, pulled up by pressing the left side of the Touch Pad (the big button in the middle of your PS5 controller). Though generally done for laughs or out of appreciation, Gestures can also be helpful for communicating simple ideas, such as pointing up or down to indicate where you want to go next.
Up to three Blue Phantoms can be summoned at any one time. You can use the White Eye Stone, gained early in the game, to dismiss Blue Phantoms early if you no longer need them.
Read More From Levelskip
The flip side of summoning other players is being summoned by players. Whenever you are in Soul form (i.e., whenever you die and lose your humanity) you gain the ability to use your Blue Eye Stone to lay down Soul Signs. This can't be done everywhere - you can't use the Blue Eye Stone in the Nexus, for example, or in boss arenas - but in the majority of places you'll leave your mark on the world. If another player is within level range and needs help they can summon you into their world as a Blue Phantom.
The rules of Blue Phantoms listed above apply here as well. As a Blue Phantom you can only interact with enemies, and nothing else in the world will work for you. You also won't be able to see items unless the host drops them for you or you drop them for the host, so if you want to lead the host to a particularly useful item you'll need to remember where it is in the world. Your job is to defeat enemies and keep the host safe.
In most cases players will summon Blue Phantoms to help them with a particularly nasty boss. If you reach the boss fog before the host you will not be able to enter until the host has entered first. Once inside you will face the boss as normal, and when the boss is dead you'll have a few seconds to say goodbye to the host before fading back to your own world.
If you defeated a boss, you'll immediately regain your humanity upon returning to your game. Otherwise, you'll retain any Souls you and the host obtained by killing enemies while in their world. This makes summoning an excellent way to quickly level up your character, as you can play and replay the same high-Soul bosses over and over, assuming someone is willing to summon you. You will, however, have to become a Soul again to lay down your Soul Sign, so be prepared to leap into a chasm or something equally deadly.
Soul Signs have a sort of area limit to them. If you try to go too far from your Soul Sign while waiting to be summoned it may disappear. If this happens you'll receive a message indicating that your Soul Sign has vanished, and you'll need to go back and put it down again. This prevents you from straying too far from certain areas, so be prepared to sit and wait if you want to be summoned.
Old Monk Boss Battle
Normally when laying down a Soul Sign in a world, you'll be summoned as a Blue Phantom. If you lay down a Soul Sign at any point in the Tower of Latria, however, you run the risk of being summoned as the Old Monk, the final boss of the area. When this happens you appear as a Black Phantom in the Old Monk's boss arena, and if the host manages to reach you you'll need to defeat them. If you win you will immediately regain your humanity upon returning to your own world.
The level limits for being summoned as the Old Monk are far more liberal, and the chances are high that you'll turn into the Old Monk when trying to be summoned in any of the fourth world's three areas. If PVP is of no interest to you then you're better off not laying down a Soul Sign in the Tower of Latria.
Invading Other Worlds
Tired of cooperating? Perhaps you want to kill other players instead. In that case, you'll want to try out the life of a Black Phantom.
Instigated by using the Black Eye Stone, invasions allow you to enter the worlds of other players as a Black Phantom. Your job here is to kill the host of that world. Doing so successfully will restore your humanity when you return to your own world. Invading also moves you towards Black Character Tendency, which is useful if you want to undergo Mephistopheles' quests without killing a bunch of NPCs first.
As with Blue Phantoms, Red Phantoms cannot do much to interact with their host's world. They cannot pull switches, open doors, or pick up items, and must relegate themselves to hunting the host. On the plus side, however, Red Phantoms go unnoticed by monsters, and as a Red Phantom one of your best weapons is luring players towards enemies and using the confusion to get your kill. Knowing the layout of the area in advance will help you strategize in this regard, and can be especially useful if there are Blue Phantoms helping the host and you need to split up the team.
Though invasions are useful for quickly regaining your humanity, they sometimes come with a cost. If you fail to defeat the host and are defeated you can lose a Soul Level. The consequences seem inconsistent - sometimes you'll lose a Soul Level, sometimes you won't - though in most cases it appears that dying to the environment, such as leaping off a cliff, will reduce your Soul Level. If this happens your highest stat will lose one point.
World invasions can also be done via the Red Eye Stone, gained by killing the Maiden in Black during the ending of Demon's Souls. In this case you'll lay down a red Soul Sign, and other players can summon you for a fight if they wish.
If you check the Settings submenu you'll see an option for Network near the bottom. Among other settings you'll see a slot for a Password. By default using a password is disabled, but if you enable it you can enter a password. This will allow you to interact with other players who also have that same password entered. If you both had the password 'demonssouls' entered, for example, you could both see one another's Souls Signs, and could invade one another's worlds.
It should be noted that passwords override the level limitations usually placed on character interactions. This allows players of vastly different levels to enter one another's worlds and help them with the game. As long as you are both on the same server when you start the game, you should be able to interact at any level.