Jumping back into the world of the Dark Souls after years of its original release had me a tad skeptical. On one hand, Dark Souls is one of the most beloved games of all time, but on the other, some of the features and mechanics have not aged well. After all, we have come a long way since 2011, especially post Breath of the Wild and Bloodborne. Thankfully, Dark Souls still holds up in 2018 with this remaster.
The Souls games have gained a lot of traction since the first entry, even bringing the term “Souls-like” to the forefront in the same way we use “Metroid-vania” or “Rogue-like.” That’s how impactful Dark Souls is. The gameplay has hooked its fans in a way that makes it tough to put down.
Praise The Sun
This isn’t a total remake or anything too substantial, but minor upgrades have been made. One of the most important improvements, at least for me, is the ability to customize button configuration. This *should* be an industry standard these days, but alas, this feature is missing in many current releases. It’s awesome to be able to play the way you want and that feeling is exemplified by the complexity of the combat, making the addition a welcome one.
4K support is also a much needed update that has been added because frankly, the PS3/Xbox 360 versions looked muddy and outdated. Additionally, 1080p and 60fps support has been included, keeping up with modern standards. Because this is just a remaster and not a remake, it still looks like a last-gen game, but that doesn’t ruin the experience. It’s probably asking too much, but I would have loved to see assets rebuilt from the ground-up to align with some of the more photorealistic games that have been releasing recently, but for now, this the best looking way to play.
Tries Not To Die – Dies A Lot
There are other improvements, too, like upgrades to multiplayer features. In the remaster, you can now play with up to six players instead of four. Password matchmaking has also been added, taking a page out of the Dark Souls III book, as well as the usage of dedicated servers. These are some of the most prominent multiplayer additions, to me. The streamlined co-op improvements make it more enjoyable to play with friends and I can’t wait to spend more time doing so.
The core gameplay has been left untouched, from what I can tell. Combat is still a complex science and is not for the faint-hearted. For a game that pushes back as much as it does, Dark Souls does a fantastic job of sucking players into its world. The lore is there for those who want to find it, or if you want to just focus on gameplay, exclusively, you can play that way, too.
It Got “Gud”
The weapon variety makes it great for gamers of all play-styles. Want a slower, heavy, high-damage weapon? You got it. Maybe you want to use magic and attack from afar to avoid getting hit? There’s that, too. Or, you can even stick with your bare-hands for an even more difficult experience (not recommended). These are just some of the options of the dozens of weapon types that can be used.
The most captivating part of Dark Souls Remastered is the sense of reward after overcoming a challenge. Because of the steep barrier of entry, when the game throws a hard section at you, it’s easy to want to quit, but those who stick with it can find such a deep, rewarding progression system. Whether it’s being rewarded with souls that act as the in-game currency and XP, a new weapon, or a rare item, there is always something to work towards and a reason to push through the challenge.
Along with the definitive sense of satisfaction from overcoming challenge comes the tremendous motivation to explore. Dark Souls feels the most like a Metroid-vania out of all of the other entries in the series. This is the idea that the game will introduce you to inaccessible areas that must be revisited after a skill or item is gained, making the area accessible. That style of design encourages exploration and a motivation to revisit areas from earlier on. Upon discovery of an item or key that unlocks an area, I would always get excited to go back and see what rewards were waiting for me. It’s just another thing that makes Dark Souls so addicting.
As a remaster, this won’t light the world on fire, but it *is* nice to be able to play Dark Souls on a modern console with a higher frame-rate. This package is also great because it includes all of the previously released DLC, Artorias of the Abyss. That, along with the minor changes to the online matchmaking and frame-rate improvement make this a worthy pick-up, especially at only $40. Dark Souls is one of the greatest RPGs of all time and it’s great that we now have a definitive way to play.