you’ve been playing on PC, it isn’t that much of an upgrade
Review Price: £27.99
Available on PS4 (version tested), Xbox One and PC, coming soon to Nintendo Switch
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Dark Souls is brilliant. It’s a genuine masterpiece, and one that even From Software has struggled to beat – only Bloodborne comes anywhere near the insanely high standard this game set upon its original release.
And this remains true here. The thing about Dark Souls is that it was a bit of an awkward game, with Blighttown’s infamous frame-rate nosedive and the odd muddy texture throughout Lordran – as well as some unreliable netcode. However, not one of those issues stopped it being regarded as an all-timer.
So what’s new? The game now runs at a silky-smooth 60fps – and yes, that includes Blighttown. It also has some lovely 4K textures that show off From Software’s grim fantasy art direction.
There have been a few tweaks to the multiplayer matchmaking, adopting some of the systems found in the two sequels: the ability to use passwords to find specific players and to heal using Estus whilst in an online battle. These are two areas that the sequels actually excels over the original game, making it far easier to play against friends and enemies, as well as the overall matchmaking in inter-covenant battles.
You can even switch a covenant you’ve entered at any time at a bonfire, so there’s a bit more focus on getting players to take part – and if you’re not interested, you now start equipped with an item that will banish any invaders from your world.
There’s also a new bonfire by Vamos, the blacksmith in the Catacombs, which doesn’t really make the game any easier, but allows more easy access to him when in the latter part of the game and want to level up some gear.
The polygon models haven’t been touched, so the new lick of paint really emphasises the ‘boxiness’ of some of the buildings; there are some really harsh lines and angles on the architecture that stand out a mile.
The retexturing, although clearly better, doesn’t offer that much of a leap forward – certainly nowhere close to that seen in remastered versions of God of War 3 and Shadow of the Colossus. Fundamentally, although this is an improvement over the original release, it doesn’t quite live up to the ‘remastered’ flag.
Nevertheless, none of those complaints really matter with regards to the gameplay, which remains brilliant. Darks Souls Remastered is thrilling, tense and has the best set of bosses in the series. The question is, is this worth throwing money at if you’ve already finished the game – especially if you were playing on PC, where mods could easily bring the game close to the standard on show in this remastered version.
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There are a few areas in Dark Souls that series’ mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki has said are unfinished, or with which he is disappointed. This would have presented the perfect opportunity to finish off and polish up Lost Izalith, an area at the end of the game that still feels half-baked. Much like this remaster, in fact.
There’s likely to be plenty of activity around the multiplayer side of the game upon release, so if you’ve ever fancied doing a co-op run – or if you like terrorising new players with your custom-built PvP character – then sure, capitalising on what should be a hotbed of activity may be worthwhile. Other than that, it’s simply another opportunity to play through what remains a landmark videogame.
If you haven’t played Dark Souls before, then I’m jealous. This is, unquestionably, the best way to play the game. It runs brilliantly, looks great and that tweaked online play will lead to some super-cool moments – invasions and battles alongside allies, for example – that everyone talks about when referring to Dark Souls.
The world of Lordran remains one of the best realised places in any game, instantly memorable and full of secrets. The bosses never hit that Dark Souls 3 level of ridiculous difficulty (with the exception of Kalameet and Manus from the DLC, which is of course included in this version of the game), instead being the absolute definition of ‘firm but fair’. Each one reveals a new wrinkle in the combat, one that must be mastered for you to succeed.
You’ll get to experience the sticking point that is the Capra Demon for the first time, a boss for which I’d be interested to see the stats regarding the number of folk who stopped playing the game because they became stuck at him.
You’ll also get to tackle Sen’s Fortress – somewhere the entire Dark Souls experience is condensed. You’ll feel it’s insurmountable the first time you try it, but by the time you’ve made it through, you’ll know every single inch inside and out. You’ll get to fight Ornstein and Smough, too, one of the most rewarding boss battles in the history of videogames! The kind of battle about which you’ll be boring friends to tears.
Dark Souls is regarded so highly for a reason: it’s full of moments that you simply have to experience, and that fabled difficulty is part of it.
If you’ve played Dark Souls before then there isn’t really anything in this version of the game that makes for a compelling reason to part with your cash. The term ‘Remastered’ implies that a great amount of work has gone into this release, and although it’s a definite improvement – especially with regards to the frame rate – it isn’t extraordinary.
For those looking to play Dark Souls for the very first time, however, there’s no better way.