For a game that has all the marks of being a niche release -- obscure RPG mechanics, extreme difficulty, etc. -- Dark Souls has been gaining an incredible amount of buzz. The first-week sales results are in from Japan, and this latest challenge from From Software has come out on top.

Kotaku reports that following last week's launch of Dark Souls in Japan, the game sold a very impressive 279,567 copies. As a point of comparison, when Dark Souls predecessor Demon's Souls released in Japan in early 2009, its first-week sales were a measly 40,000. That title grew from word of mouth and went on to perform quite well, but it's nice to see Dark Souls kicking off with some steam from the start.

The next-closest title on the Japanese charts last week was Sony's Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, also just-released, which sold just under 100,000 copies.

If news of its early success just makes you more eager to play Dark Souls for yourself, you don't have to wait much longer. The difficult game will release in North America for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 next week. Watch for my review then, and in the mean time check out a full and terrifying level from the game on the latest episode of Reiner & Phil.