By Josh Brant
I’ve been a die-hard Souls fan ever since Demon Souls. In fact, I purchased Demon Souls only a few weeks after launch when the amazing reviews started pouring in. Demon Souls quickly became one of my favorite games of all time, so when Dark Souls was first announced, it’s safe to say I was very excited. I won’t go into detail about what Dark Souls is, how it plays, and how special it was to myself and so many other gamers, but here we are in 2018 with Dark Souls: Remastered by developer From Software, and while it probably isn’t in the upper echelon of remasters, it still is a great place to experience one of the greatest action RPGs of all time.
At its core, Dark Souls: Remastered is still the same game that was released seven years ago. A significant change this time around is its framerate, which has been drastically improved from barely being able to maintain 30 frames-per-second to a fluid 60 fps on the PS4 version I received for review. It also upscales to 4K resolution on the PS4 Pro, providing a crisper picture with some beautiful vistas and boss designs. It’s easy to say that Dark Souls: Remastered is the best way to play this game on consoles.
This graphical and framerate improvement makes Dark Souls: Remastered the definitive version for those new to the series and those who never got to play the PC modded version. These changes also making slogging through Blighttown and Lost Izalith easier to manage rather than fighting the constant lag more than the enemies themselves. Dark Souls: Remastered now feels more like Dark Souls 3 on some other quality of life changes made to the game.
Graphically, visual changes to soul items now have more of a radiant bluish tint to them and bonfires have considerably more smoke and ember particle effects spouting from the flames, while fog gates actually have a fog-like appearance versus the original version. Some changes to its mechanics have also been made, such as allowing players to now use multiple soul items at once, rather than the slow one at a time use that the original implemented.
Another change to Dark Souls: Remastered is allowing players to switch up their control scheme, meaning that you can switch out your jump/dash button similar to a control layout in Dark Souls 3. Dark Souls Remastered is pretty much just Dark Souls from point A to point B and anyone expecting any major changes similar to the Scholar of the First Sin from Dark Souls 2 may be disappointed. It felt almost like playing the improved PC version, only on console with a higher framerate and improved graphics.
There may not be much of a change with enemy placements and gameplay from the original to the remaster, but there are some substantial changes to the PvP structure of multiplayer. PvP for Dark Souls: Remastered now runs on dedicated servers and what little I did play felt much better than that of the original. New additions from Dark Souls 3 have also been added, such as the 3v3 and six men deathmatch arena, plus there is password matchmaking. Changes have also been made to the PvP combat making Estus Flasks the only source of healing and being able to constantly summon ally phantoms removed to prevent longer, more drawn-out fights.
Bonfires also received great changes as well, with the most obvious being your ability to change your covenant at anytime once you have found one of the nine leaders. I also appreciated how they placed one of the bonfires closer to the main blacksmith, allowing you to bypass the pinwheel skeletons each time. As you can tell, Dark Souls: Remastered doesn’t add much new to the PvE element of the main campaign, other than being a smoother and more polished experience.
My one major gripe with Dark Souls Remastered is from comparing this to Scholar of the First Sin from Dark Souls 2. Dark Souls 2 wasn’t perfect, but Scholar came in and overhauled much of the gameplay experience by moving enemy and item locations around, adding some new lore, and even a new final boss. I’m slight disappointed, because after two sequels there was so much more they could have added. But, maybe that was a good thing to preserve everything that made the original Dark Souls fantastic in the first place.
Lastly, one thing you should not miss out on is the wonderful Artorias of the Abyss DLC, the sole add-on for Dark Souls that many people skipped over the first time. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on this content. Artorias manages to hit a lot of highs, with lore-heavy bosses that rank among some of the strongest in the series, and it never overstays its welcome. It is still some of the best DLC content ever released and is how DLC should be implemented for many games.
Overall, I was hoping From Software would have put more into remastering Dark Souls: Remastered, however, there’s no denying that it’s still extremely fun to play and a memorable achievement in game design. Whether it be when you face off against Smough and Ornstein, two of the best bosses ever at once, for the first time or its unique approach to storytelling through NPC’s and descriptive assessments of all items detailing the lore. Dark Souls, in my opinion, still remains the best entry in the series and something both new and returning players should definitely add to their gaming collections.