I was late to the party with Dark Souls. I did play about half an hour of Demon’s Souls when it was released, but I gave Dark Souls and its sequel a wide berth.
It wasn’t until I fell head over heels in love with Bloodborne that I came to realise just how good these games were. Sure, they’re known as those ‘hard games’ that are brutal and unfair to players, but that’s not really accurate.
Dark Souls is an example of amazing game and level design. It’s a testament to Hidetaka Miyazaki’s vision as a designer and to the experiences that video games can create.
Dark Souls Remastered Review
Every time you play Dark Souls Remastered you’ll have a new story to tell. They won’t always be tales of victory, but they’ll be tales nonetheless. Whether it’s finally getting the best of that pesky boss you’ve been stuck at or finding a new shortcut, there is always something new to discover.
Rarely do games come at the player so relentlessly as Dark Souls Remastered does. Moments of respite are few and far between and if you do take them, you won’t be making any progress. No matter what, you’ll need to always press forward, it’s the only way to succeed.
Pressing forward doesn’t just mean getting further into the levels and deeper into the world. It means, levelling up, learning how to defeat new enemies and exploiting the weaknesses of the big bad bosses.
Having played Bloodborne to death, I went into Dark Souls Remastered thinking I was prepared. I wasn’t. Bloodborne is a faster, leaner game where Dark Souls is plodding and deliberate.
Stamina management, timing and blocking are so much more important in Dark Souls Remastered. It’s by far a slower game than Bloodborne, which initially I felt was a bit of a letdown. But over time, I came to realise that Dark Souls Remastered is far more tense by virtue of its pacing.
The slower, more deliberate pace often tripped me up as I tried to rush enemies like I would in Bloodborne. They were having none of it and would smack me down faster than anything.
It took some time, but once I mastered the art of patience, I found the going to be easier. Not much easier mind you, but a little. Dark Souls Remastered is brutally hard, but thanks to the brilliance of From Software, it’s another game that doesn’t feel like a punishment.
You never feel like a death was unearned, at least not after the first time. Even then, if and when you die, it’s usually due to your own hubris or lack of knowledge about the enemy you’re facing.
If you want to rush through the levels instead of carefully weaving your way around of course you’re going to be jumped by swarms of enemies and hacked to pieces. It’s the nature of the world you’re exploring. It’s dangerous and unforgiving and the second you forget that or think you’re strong enough to survive, you’ll meet a swift end.
As is standard in the Soulsborne genre, you earn Souls as you defeat enemies which you spend at Bonfire’s to level up. It takes a long time before you’ll notice any real difference in the strength of your attacks of defences, but the incremental improvements keep you going just long enough to level up again.
There is a real grind to Dark Souls and if you’re not a fan, then you’re better off staying away.
Pretty Ugly, but Ugly Pretty
Visually, it’s pretty obvious Dark Souls Remastered is a game from the last generation. The textures are crisp, but the low-poly character models and environments still look pretty dated.
I wouldn’t call Dark Souls Remastered ugly, but it won’t be winning any beauty contests. It’s not really the point of the game anyway. Dark Souls is somewhat utilitarian in its use of visuals. They’re there in service of the gameplay. So long as they’re functional, they don’t need to be a focus.
Dark Souls Remastered remains a truly wonderful example of modern game design. It’s great for people like me who missed it the first time around and for fans, it’s another chance to Praise the Sun.
Dark Souls Remastered was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided to PowerUp! by Bandai Namco.
Game Title: Dark Souls Remastered
The beginning of it all - 8/10
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - 9/10
Still an example of impeccable level design - 8.7/10