It's hard to believe that it's been almost 7 years since this phenomenal game first debuted. Now, long-time fans and newcomers alike can enjoy it with cool new graphics so relight the flame and prepare to die.
That's right; I said the original Dark Souls is the best game in the whole Soulsborne universe and I stand by that. I remember when I preordered it back in 2011 and stood outside EB Games with a bunch of other nerds waiting for someone to open the store. I got the special edition with soundtrack, big ass case, and whatnot then rushed home to play it. I think I was supposed to be working that day but who cares? Anyway, after I started playing it, my mind was blown. Having just finished Demon's Souls, experiencing the open interconnected world was a huge change of pace. Every single door that I opened or elevator that I activated in order to create a shortcut felt so gratifying. It brought back memories of my favourite game of all time, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The world in Dark Souls is simply awe-inspiring how it all connects and I've never experienced a 3D world as impressive before or since.
Although its world is nothing short of amazing, Dark Souls wouldn't be a Soulsborne game without incredible combat. Taking out regular enemies can sometimes be as challenging as some of the bosses. The way you have to react to each enemy's animations in order to take advantage of their stance and not get hurt in the process is like a dance to the death. Then, when you meet the bosses, holy moly, does the combat shine. Taking on giant dragons, iron knights, and twisted demons is so engaging and will keep you on the edge of your seat. That is, unless you're one of those fans who played this so much that you've memorized everything and can run through the whole game with ease. Can that honestly be fun? In the end, battling the wide variety of enemies is visceral and exciting.
Of course, this is Dark Souls Remastered so what exactly is enhanced? The most substantial aspect is the graphics. Everything looks much sharper and smoother which is fantastic. In fact, if you're playing on console (except for Switch) then you're treated to 1080p resolution at 60fps. Additionally, if you own a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X then you can enjoy playing with 4k upscaled visuals. Even though I find the upgraded graphics to be great and a definite improvement, I also didn't feel like they were even close to the detail and finesse of Dark Souls III. Either way, the fact that it looks so much better remains an undisputable positive point.
Updated graphics are cool but what else does Dark Souls Remastered offer? First, you get the Artorias of the Abyss DLC which is a nice bonus if you never played it before. Also, there's a dedicated server now. I don't really know nor care what that specifically entails but the multiplayer works fairly well so I can't complain. Some folks look like they're warping around which is annoying but most online players are seamlessly integrated. If you want to play with friends then there's a password matchmaking system, too.
There are other minor changes like an extra bonfire but nothing really worth mentioning in a review. Therefore, Dark Souls Remastered is primarily a graphically enhanced version of the original. This might be rather disappointing to many gamers who were expecting more. After playing the near-perfect remake that is Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, I for one am slightly disappointed with this.
Seeing as this is the original Dark Souls, the only other negative thing I can say is that some parts can be exceptionally frustrating. These segments have the potential to make you want to stop playing but that ultimately relies on your patience, skill, and luck. Blighttown is still a death trap where you can easily fall to your demise, become toxic via blow dart, and have enemies unexpectedly jump out at you. New Londo Ruins has ghosts that can freely move within walls and attack you through them and Manus is one of the hardest (dare I say cheapest?) bosses in gaming. All of that being said, once you master these sections, the sense of accomplishment is unmatched.
Dark Souls is one of the greatest video games of all time and my personal favourite Soulsborne game to date. Thankfully, this Remastered version helps make it even better; if only in an arguably marginal way.
- + Massive interconnected world that's super-satisfying to explore
- + Awesome combat, enemies, and bosses
- + Updated graphics are pretty great
- - It's not as substantial of an upgrade as some fans hoped it would be
- - Some parts can still be brutally frustrating