Nearly 7 years ago, From Software gave us this decade’s “Toughest Game”. A challenging and difficult action RPG with punishing boss fights. Upon its release, Dark Souls received critical acclaim and is considered one of the best games of all time. Fast forward to 2018, by this time players have struggled through Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 (and Cuphead, aka Dark Souls 4) but are we ready to head back to Firelink Shrine and prepare to die all over again with Dark Souls Remastered?
Tom takes up the challenge and revisits the series. Here’s his review of Dark Souls Remastered.
I remember when I first started playing Dark Souls back in 2011, after 10 terrible hours I put the game down and never picked it back up again. It was hard. Way too hard for me. It wasn’t until late 2013 when Dark Souls 2 was announced and I decided to give Dark Souls another try, as it turns out, one of my flatmates was a Dark Souls pro and promptly took to training me and showing me all the ins and outs of the game. One training montage later and I’m back into the game taking names of bosses. That feeling you get when you finally beat one of the bosses is amazing. True catharsis. Upon reaching and beating the final boss of this game I felt like I had reached “Dark Souls Enlightenment”. When Dark Souls 2 released I beat the game within it’s launch week, same goes for Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 (and Cuphead). I actually enjoyed these games very much. So of course, I was very excited to see that Dark Souls was being remastered for the current generation of consoles.
One of the things that excited me the most was the online/community aspect of the Dark Souls series. When I got back into Dark Souls the online side of things was very quiet. You see, when you are playing the game, you’ll often see white writing on the ground. This is another player who is in the same area offering to join your game and participate in some jolly cooperation. You’ll usually see heaps of glowing names in front of boss areas. The same couldn’t be said when I was playing Dark Souls back in 2013, most players had moved onto other games. But with a ‘remaster’ on the way? People would be coming back to play this game in droves. I couldn’t wait.
Dark Souls Remastered Day. May 25th 2018. I quickly booted up the game and dove right in. Right off the bat something didn’t feel right. The game kinda looked the same as when I played it back on the PS3, albeit a little brighter. I feel like in this day in age “remastered” is used very loosely. Take for example Bluepoint Game’s remaster of Shadow of the Colossus. Now that’s a remaster. Bluepoint remade all of the games assets from the ground up and boy does it show. The game looks fantastic, a remaster you could say. Dark Souls ‘Remastered’ looks like FromSoftware took the original game, sanded some jagged edges, fixed BlightTown and turned up the brightness a bit. Yes, I agree it does look better than the original, but not by much. Having said that, Dark Souls isn’t a game about graphics, it’s a game about gameplay.
I pressed on through the opening area and headed towards the main hub of the game, Firelink Shrine and then I heard it, the bells. (Context: In Dark Souls, one of your early objectives is to ring two bells. Whenever a player rings a bell within their game, the ringing can be heard through other players games too. So all that noise you’re hearing? That’s people making progress in Dark Souls). Woohoo! The Dark Souls community was back and in full swing, I heard bells ringing all throughout my play through of the game. That also meant that boss doors were littered with glowing names. Praise the Sun! Dark Souls is a game that is greatly more enjoyable with other people. Beating a boss by yourself is a great feeling, but helping someone else beat a boss they’ve been stuck on is just as good of feeling. Of course the complete opposite is possible in Dark Souls, people can also ‘invade’ your game, track you down and kill you. Not as fun, but it’s still a thrill.
As far as ‘remastering’ gameplay goes, FromSoftware hasn’t changed much. Sure, the multiplayer has been increased from 4 players to 6 players but apart from that; Again, this isn’t much of a remaster when potential game breaking bugs are left in the game. Chain-backstabbing, a PVP (Player Vs Player) exploit where you can critical hit someone over and over again, preventing your opponent from reacting. Areas where there are little invisible walls that prevent players going on a path they’re meant to go on. (I spent way to much time trying to get onto a branch in the Great Hollow than I should have done).
So when you are considering to buy Dark Souls Remastered, just keep in mind that it’s not a “true” remaster. It’s basically a port of an old game that we know and love with some minor quality of life improvements. I would still highly recommend for people to still pick up this game as it is a classic, but just be aware that there are still plenty of bugs within the game.