Dark Souls Remastered

Key Features

  • Review Price: £27.99

Available May 25 on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Summer 2018 on Nintendo Switch

Dark Souls Remastered news

Bandai Namco has confirmed that the Nintendo Switch release of Dark Souls Remastered has been delayed to Summer 2018. The Solaire of Astora amiibo has been moved into the same time-frame.

No specific reason was given for the delay, although the official FromSoftware Twitter account cites “unforeseen circumstances” but mentioned no specifics. If this gives the Nintendo Switch release time to be further refined, we’re more than willing to wait a few extra weeks.

Read on for our hands-on preview of Dark Souls Remastered: 

Dark Souls is comfortably one of the best and most influential games ever made. Part of an iconic series that spawned an entire genre, this game deserves its spot among the pantheon of all-time greats. Being seven years removed from its initial launch, we’re now getting a ‘Remaster’ for all the current-gen platforms, bringing forth an entirely new generation of gamers to test their skills, patience, and controllers once again. Playing the game on PS4, it remains as brilliant and challenging as ever. However, by being exactly like its source material, I can’t help but think that, at least in some aspects, it stands in the shadow of its own successors.

Much like with Burnout Paradise, we find ourselves treading the muddy waters of what it means to be a remaster. For Dark Souls, we get a bump to 60 frames per second (not on Nintendo Switch, where it’s 30fps across the board), a resolution bump from 720p to 1080p on PS4, Xbox One and docked mode on Nintendo Switch (it’ll still be 720p in handheld mode), up to 4K on PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and PC and some visual improvements. The number of players online has been increased from four to six and you’ll also get all the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.

But how does it play? Well, exactly as you remember. This is the same phenomenal, challenging, test your brain and your heart at every turn white-knuckling experience of 2011, and this is both thrilling and a little bit of a shame.

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Dark Souls has one of the most satisfying and rewarding combat experiences ever created. There’s no greater feeling than overcoming one of its many challenging and wonderfully-designed bosses. Even overcoming a large number of its bog-standard fodder can lead to utter elation.

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Dark Souls Remastered

All those emotions come flooding back as soon as you start the game. Taking on your first few Hollowed soldiers before facing the Asylum Demon and you’ll be right back in the thick of it. Plus the bump to sixty frames per second makes the experience that much smoother, but with that comes a little caveat: Dark Souls had two sequels, and they both ran at 60fps out the gate, making this bump have way less impact than you might expect, and that speaks to other areas of gameplay.

While Dark Souls 2 and 3 didn’t have the groundbreaking impact of the first game, they did make subtle tweaks to the formula that steadily honed and improved on the foundations to make for a more rewarding minute-to-minute combat experience. While the level or boss design may not have matched the predecessor, it’s hard to argue that those latter entries offered improved combat, UI and general usability.

For example, going back to Dark Souls will mean backstabs is frustratingly difficult. Trying to nail them once again in the old format feels almost impossible at times, thanks to the requirement of almost inch-perfect precision.

Lock-on targeting is also more fiddly when multiple enemies are in the same area. It’s enraging when you run into a room with a strategy to attack one baddie, only for the lock-on to snap to someone else, snapping the camera all over the place, your attacks whiffing, and panic ensuing as a massive heap of the proverbial collides with the fan.

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Dark Souls Remastered

The bump to 60 frames also doesn’t feel as drastic because 2 and 3 offered this, with 2 getting a remaster (Scholar of the First Sin) ahead of this one, and it’s hard to remember all the way back to 2011 to notice the difference.

I’m not asking for this Remaster to incorporate huge metagame changes. I don’t need tweaks to Estus Flasks or even infinite torches, and of course, there will be many who argue they want Dark Souls to play exactly as it did back in 2011, and to hell with what the latter entries did. But personally, I’d prefer these under-the-hood refinements retrospectively added.

My other gripe comes in the form of the visuals – on PS4 Pro at least. While they do indeed look much sharper than the original PS3/Xbox 360 versions, the textures can be inconsistent and look very murky at times. There’s an inconsistency that means that some areas will look absolutely gorgeous, but other times be spoilt by garish textures that look smudged, or like when a game is still loading all the textures and details despite it starting. The 4K resolution only brings this issue even further into the light.

The ace in the hole is, of course, the Nintendo Switch. While the console may lack the visual upgrades and framerate bump the other platforms are receiving, it’s hard to turn away from the appeal of the portability of having Dark Souls everywhere I go. The risk of course is having to avoid yelling every unconscionable swear word while on a busy train, but it’s a risk worth taking. I’ve been left a little unimpressed by the textures on PS4, and feel the massively improved resolution only serves to further emphasise their murkiness, so this inadvertently makes the Switch an even more enticing prospect. It may mean a downgrade to 30 fps, but considering this is what we had way back when, I’ll happily take that experience.

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Dark Souls Remastered

Ironically, the PS4 version of the game has managed to sell me on the Switch version even more. I will 100% be getting this game at launch, it’s still an icon, I just don’t feel the PS4 version doesn’t offer a significant enough Remaster to outweigh the convenience Nintendo’s console brings, even with its sacrifices.

First Impressions

Dark Souls remains a phenomenal game, warts and all. This is a true remaster of the game that blew everyone away seven years ago, but that will also mean that improvements to the formula which evolved over its two sequels will be absent.

While there are some visual upgrades, they don’t go far enough and this is disappointing. 60 fps is great, but again as we’ve had that in later entries, the difference isn’t as impactful.

While there may be a minor disappointment in the PS4 upscale, the big silver lining is that this makes the Nintendo Switch version very exciting indeed.