Garnett and Jeff, both of you should at least give Demon's Souls a good college try. I suspect that if you give it a chance, you'll both adore it.
The game is really only punishingly difficult until you figure out how the combat works and can survive long enough to stockpile some heal items. After that point, when you die it's usually obvious why you died, and you learn from the experience and get a little farther next time.
You will have to let go of the notion, common to many modern RPGs and action games with save-anywhere systems, that it's unacceptable to repeat sections of a game. Think of it more like a level of Mario where if you die you lose all your coins and go back to the beginning of the level. The objective is to become familiar enough with an area to get through it in one go.
The environments are gorgeous and filled with hidden paths and secrets. The feeling of exploration is heightened as there is real risk involved in exploring a new area.
If you can stick with it long enough to finish 1-1 and aren't totally hooked, I'll eat my hat.