Dark Souls Remastered review

Dark Souls originally came out in 2011, and since then it’s helped redefine the action RPG. I, unfortunately, missed it the first time around, and with Elen Ring coming out soon, now seemed like the perfect time to revisit Miyazaki’s first masterpiece. Today I’m going to run through my thoughts and impressions of Dark Souls Remastered.

You start out much like many other Souls games. Pick your class, pick your optional power-ups, and off you go. More often than not I select the warrior in situations like these. Even though I understand magic is useful in this game, and pretty OP. However, I just can’t get away from wielding that sword.

In the world of Dark Souls, the land has fallen into disrepair years after a bunch of gods teamed up to take on a gang of ancient (and deadly) dragons. The world is slowly decaying over time, leaving behind it wicked beasts and zombie-like corpses. The player somehow manages to stay alive through this, and it’s our job to battle through a series of punishing bosses to the end. Normally, it’s our end. But rinse and repeat the process and you’ll learn enough along the way and slowly chip away and make progress.

Ultimately this is what Dark Souls is all about. You are seriously ill-equipped at the start of the journey, and you’ll venture out, learn attack patterns, level up various skills, and take down the seemingly impossible in front of you. At first, it’s going to be tough, and it may seem unlikely, but be persistent and the rewards will come.

Dark Souls Remastered manages to clean up much of the PlayStation 3 features including textures, online play, and performance. The core gameplay of Dark Souls has been preserved, which improved many other things along the way. The core game may be over 10 years old now and the remaster roughly 4 years old, however, this is a game that stands the test of time, and this remaster is one of the best ways to experience this, perhaps the other major competition is Demon Souls on PS5.

The core gameplay to Dark Souls is fighting and combat, although there’s a certain amount of puzzle-solving and exploration too. The game is going to throw challenge after challenge at you at a relentless pace, and at first, you’re going to feel ill-equipped, but learn the patterns of the bosses and execute your tactics to perfection to progress. Sometimes you’ll have a good run, where everything will flow and work. Sometimes you’ll die to a poisoned rat after only 30 secs. Dark Souls is about making little steps forward and remembering your path. Learning how to parry your opponent’s attacks and taking down that boss after 4-5 tries. It’s a game about persistence and reveling in your victories.

The world around you does a lot of work here. We have huge castles, dragons, Dark Knights, swamps, and crypts. All interconnect and at first, seem impenetrable and very difficult. This eases over time and areas that were once impossible to get through, will now become a breeze. Dark Souls always feels dangerous. This is obvious in combat, but also when you’re not in combat too. Weapons to collect are agonisingly out of reach, questlines end in tragedy. Dark Souls is also a mystery to new players, it’s secrets and lore tucked away in item descriptions. The game is almost belligerent in terms of explaining itself, it doesn’t, but in a way having to seek out the deeper meaning and explanation of Dark Souls is impressive.

One major drawback of Dark Souls is the structure. The first half of the game is all about exploration and discovery. Once you get to the second act though this is flipped on its head and you have 4 distinct locations, with enemies now leveled up to an infuriating level. Levels are filled with lava, bottomless pits and are full of dirty tricks which will drain you of your energy, and motivation very quickly.

Dark Souls Remastered keeps much of the original, both the highs and the lows. They have managed to remove some of the original glitches that allow for infinite souls, but otherwise, it’s very true to it’s original form. If you have the original Dark Souls then this may be a little disappointing, with the game feeling like it’s much more suited for new players to the franchise, rather than veterans. The visuals have been given a much-needed overhaul with the textures and fidelity much improved. Some argue that the original graphics and framerate are part of the Dark Souls experience. I for one welcome these upgrades, however, I didn’t experience the game in its vanilla form.

Dark Souls Remastered has been a pleasure to play, albeit sometimes leading me to bash my head against the wall on occasion. This is a close replica of the original, and allows us, new players, to understand what the hype was all about. If you’re a fan of the more recent Souls games, then I’d recommend going back and checking it out. The Dark Souls Remaster arrived in 2018 when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were in full swing. This is the best way to experience Dark Souls, and if you haven’t I thoroughly recommend it.