Bandai Namco and From Software has just released Dark Souls Remastered for gamers new to the series looking to get a taste of their earlier offerings despite the absence of its predecessor Demon Souls. Or those well versed with the Souls series looking for a trip down memory lane with a number of cosmetic improvements at the helm. What ever side of the fence you sit on, Dark Souls Remastered offers more of the tough as nails chest bumping and gamer bragging madness the series is well-known for. Casual gamers, the exit is over there. See you later.
The Souls series makes no bones about its inane difficulty in a world were casual inclusion reigns supreme, and in many ways has a bit of a cult following as a result. It’s not a game for everyone, that has to be clearly stated. It doesn’t follow more modern gaming tropes of making things easy with the option to up the difficulty if one chooses. No, it’s a one size fit only and if that doesn’t magically fall under your expectations then forget having even the slightest smidgen of fun. So, if you can stomach some really archaic gameplay features where persistence prevails over anything else, until you forcibly learn to get better, then you’re in for a challenging treat. Dark Souls is the mainstream entry in the series first appearing on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC back in 2011. However, back then the quality of the experience was hampered due to being poorly optimized. Now that we’re all shiny with Xbox One X and PS4 Pro to marvel at and GTX 1080 Ti GPUs the remaster makes sense given how well received Dark Souls 2 and 3 have been.
As a brief explanation for the uninformed, Dark Souls Remastered is pretty much the same game as the 2011 original, except it has been given an upgrade in visuals (although in some instances it will be hard to notice). The resolution is noticeably sharper, which means on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro the game plays smoothly up to 4K. However, whilst there is some improvements with textures, not all have been given a loving touch and can look quite muddy for a game released in 2018. If you have played Dark Souls 3 or even Bloodborne you will instantly notice the aged graphics shinning through here. However, ignoring the somewhat dated visuals for moment, and focus on the fact the game runs very smoothly now and at a fairly consistent 60 frames per second and it’s here where the game warrants its revisiting. Combat now feels much more fluid and despite cheap deaths, crappy camera angles and the odd glitches still being offered here, the overall experience could be considered a little more fair now (if that’s possible). 60 fps really does make a pleasant difference here to the point of ignoring the aforementioned low quality textures. Taking on the game’s weird and wonderful opposition with renewed vigor is certainly a major selling point with the tables slightly tilting slightly closer to the player’s favour compared to the original.
There are some other new additions aside from the visual elements such as being able to use multiple items at the same time – for example, all the collected souls can be consumed at once rather than laboriously one at a time. A bit of a quirk which speeds up menu time. You can also change your covenant more readily at bonfires making for a time saver where before you had to trek back to the relevant person. A new bonfire has been lit in the catacombs area and no doubt some more subtle changes we’ve mised. There are changes to the multiplayer aspect as well which include being able to summon players more readily to your games and using passwords for friends to join. There is also an increase from four players to six for the PVP mode which now has stricter healing requirements where only the Estus flask can be used. With all things considered then, is there enough here to perhaps fall in or out of love with the game some 7 years on from the first time?
Well, that is perhaps rather personal and is the question leveled at all remasters. 7 years is a long time in gaming and with so many new experiences under the belt it’s easy to forget the past, or easy to at least have a foggy recollection of events. In this regard, Dark Souls Remastered is worth checking out if your inquisitive mind gets the better of you. However, it has to be reiterated again, this is the same game in slightly better fitting clothing this time. But if that is enough of an incentive to take the plunge into nostalgia, then so be it.
To wrap up here, newcomers will do well to take a look although the recommendation does come with several caveats as mentioned earlier. Old timers will have fun and perhaps might complain about the asking price of entry for a repeated experience. Anyone else who is a glutton for punishment and wants to prove their role playing action adventuring prowess come on in and don’t look back…in anger. Especially if a Hulk like temperament has the tendency to get the better of you. Which it will. Over, and over again.