When From Software released Dark Souls in September 2011, it was met with high praise (the sun). Naturally, a lot has happened in the intervening seven or so years, and we have a remaster on our hands. Dark Souls Remastered has been released on the PlayStation 4, but has enough been upgraded to warrant another purchase of this infamously challenging game? Time to find out in our Dark Souls Remastered review.
If you’re a fan of the original, then all you need to know is that Dark Souls Remastered is probably the best experience of Dark Souls to date. Everything is presented at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, and this even includes the infamously taxing area known as Blighttown. Dark Souls Remastered runs at 1080p on the stock PS4, and at up to upscaled 4K on the PS4 Pro. HDR is supported in either case. The result is a crisper looking world, though textures up close definitely have some blur to them. This is perhaps simply the original Dark Souls showing its age, as later games such as Dark Souls III and Bloodborne have graphics that are far superior by comparison.
What, exactly, has changed in Dark Souls Remastered? There’s not a whole lot to report for single-player/offline play. A new bonfire next to Vamos the Blacksmith, the ability to switch covenants at those bonfires, some item auto-equip changes, and button reconfiguration round out the new tweaks for solo players. Otherwise, it’s the same challenging Dark Souls from almost seven years ago. This also means you can expect to fight the camera, as with in the original.
Don’t Travel Alone
Multiplayer tweaks are a larger part of the (still admittedly small) changes in Dark Souls Remastered. The maximum number of online players has increased from four to six. Invading players have half the number of Estus flasks to facilitate less drawn-out fights. Spam-spawning of ally phantoms is not allowed. But perhaps the most significant online change is that from peer-to-peer (P2P) networking to dedicated servers. Perhaps this means that multiplayer will one day cease to function – but given From Software’s track record of keeping servers up for a decent amount of time, this is hardly a concern for the time being.
This is essentially a re-release with slightly upgraded graphics. But then, most remasters consist of exactly that, to ensure that players can experience the best version of a classic game. It’s likely been several years since most of us played the first Dark Souls. So, while a lot of the adventure will be familiar, hidden enemies and traps are still likely to kill even veterans of the franchise. That’s part of the fun, too – reliving all the best moments of the original, in pristine form. What more could we ask for? Some extras, maybe, like behind-the-scenes commentary or a short making-of featurette would’ve been nice, but, again, that’s not really the point of remasters.
No, for those wondering, Dark Souls has not gotten any easier with this remaster. If you couldn’t handle the original’s tough enemies, bosses, and environments the first time, there’s little hope for you this time around. But Dark Souls is about becoming a better gamer, about honing your skills after a nearly uncountable number of deaths. In that respect, Dark Souls Remastered deserves a look from gamers who were not able to play the original release, who are interested in seeing what the fuss was all about, and if they are worthy to praise the sun.
Dark Souls Remastered is a great trip back to Lordran. While the original game may be showing its age, and various mechanics have been improved in later entries, this may be a trip down memory lane worth the asking price of $39.99 USD for fans of the innovative original. New players to the franchise could do much worse to start here, since the smoothness of the action ensures that each death is due to their own lack of skill and nothing else. This is certainly the best way to experience Dark Souls on console.