I like to think of the Dark Souls approach as a hardcore, intensive, character action game. Basically, an action RPG. The first part of the demo you play a pretty basic male warrior. Through the terrible tutorials, I was led to the items menu, which isn’t very intuitive. You have your healing items, lantern, basic RPG fair, but it seems very unorganized.
The gameplay is where I was impressed. Looking past the weird controls (such as left trigger being mapped to “sheath/unsheath weapon”, which is pretty much useless), there was some very interesting combat mechanics. You have your light and heavy attacks, a grab which allows you to latch onto enemies, and a jump, but you can change these buttons by holding down the left and right bumpers, which drastically changes your stances.
For example, the soldier class you start off with has a sword and a shield. By holding down the left bumper, my shield became dominant, and my attacks changed to different types of bashes with my shield. From here, I could knock back enemies, stunning them, so I could switch stances and use my sword for a finishing strike. By holding down the right bumper, I swapped up into a strong and fast stance, where I could jump back and forth and deliver devastating attacks, as well as attack flying enemies that I might face.
The game also features a party system composed of “pawns”. All your pawns you create yourself, as well as your own character. The AI was actually pretty impressive, holding down enemies so I could attack them, and healing me when I requested it. Apparently you’ll be able to create pawns and put them online for others to download.