It was as quick as the first death that instantly sent me careening back to memories of the original Demon’s Souls. I didn’t end up playing the 2009 title until 2011, but the arduous experience of getting the Platinum trophy sated my need for the Souls genre for the next decade. I missed Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Dark Souls III, and yes, I even missed Bloodborne despite having access to it free on PlayStation Plus. (Okay, I did play the Souls-inspired Sekiro.) Yes, I know the genre improved on many of its pain points over time, but still, the return to Demon’s Souls haunted me in the run up to the PS5 release.
Truth be told, I had wanted something else—anything else—from Bluepoint. I have the utmost respect for the work this developer puts into lovingly recrafting classics, and I’d had my heart set on Metal Gear Solid or Legend of Dragoon, or any number of other wild rumors about what the company might have been working on. Demon’s Souls was admittedly my last choice of all the rumored titles because I felt the Souls genre was getting a bit played out.
And yet, the developer makes a strong argument to return to the game that originated the “Souls-like” genre of games, titles at time so frustratingly obtuse and difficult that there was an immense triumph placed on even just getting a couple of kills, surviving, and figuring out where to go next. On the same coin, Demon’s Souls doesn’t entirely feel like a throwback, but a whole new game built specifically for the PS5, to showcase Sony’s new order in ways that no other games are yet doing, and that few other games ever will.
Similar to the pedigree built on the Shadow of the Colossus remake, a game that took a lovingly crafted PS2 game and made it seem entirely fresh and original on the PS4, Bluepoint both respects the vision of the original release while seamlessly blending it into the new generation so that you’d be none the wiser that it wasn’t a completely new and original game. This is largely thanks to a number of quality of life improvements that help bypass some of the more pointless struggles present in the original, while also being easily the best looking game on the PS5.
Demon’s Souls PS5 Review – Beauty in Desolation
Demon’s Souls is absolutely gorgeous at a glance, obvious just be looking at any quick screenshot or video of the game, but the
devil demon’s in the details. Intricate down to the last bit of rubble and decay, environments tower over and around your character with dark majesty, instilling both a sense of extraordinary wonder and intense fear. Enemies are presented in never before seen fidelity, detailed not only in look, but in perceptible response and reaction to your character during fights.
And then it’s the nitty-gritty tiny visuals details. Not just the reflections in the water thanks to the PS5’s ray tracing tech, but the way it reacts to you stepping into it. The particle effects from damaged items and clashes with enemies. The textures of individual stones that make up a grand castle. Demon’s Souls had a very particular visual styling, that dark gothic fantasy, reveling in the desolation of the world. Bluepoint captures the magic of that oppressive feeling in spades, whether it’s in the Nexus, the Boletarian Palace, the Valley of Defilement, or the Tower of Latvia.
Unlike Spider-Man: Miles Morales, where I preferred the 30 fps mode with much higher visual detail (4K, ray tracing, reflections, etc.), Demon’s Souls is much better experienced at 60 fps with 1440p upscaled to 4K. The drop in resolution really isn’t a big difference over native 4K, and to me the game actually looks (and plays) worse at 30 fps. It’s a game that absolutely demands the performance mode—which is on by default—and you aren’t losing any visual details by opting for it.
If there’s one “downside” to Bluepoint’s direction while remaking this classic, it’s certain artistic liberties that the developer took in giving some enemies and characters new makeovers. Purists will decry the new looks, and some of them arguably look like more generic dark fantasy RPG tropes than FromSoftware’s original vision, but it’s a small nitpick, and one that few except the most diehard of Demon’s Souls fans will even notice.
Demon’s Souls PS5 Review – You Died
Death is commonplace in Demon’s Souls. You’ll die. You’ll die a lot. In fact, you’ll die just as much to the rank and file enemies and environmental hazards (falling off of deceptively placed ledges says hello) as you will to any of the imposing larger-than-life bosses. As the progenitor of the Souls games, yes, Demon’s Souls is notoriously hard. And yet, with practice, experience, and choosing the right abilities and gear, you can make quick work of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 11 years on, the magic of the Souls games is still about your own growth as a player, in learning and understanding how the world, enemies, and game mechanics all work in concert. Boss battles are symphonies of the impossible, more visually stunning than ever thanks to the PS5 and whatever wizardry the developers at Bluepoint are producing over there.
Demon’s Souls is still an RPG though, and you’ll grow your character too. It’s here where a few changes have been made to the original formula, removing some of the more time-consuming and obnoxiously grindy elements, even if it can still be something of a grind. Souls games have come a long way in the past decade, and Bluepoint made it a point to at least sand down some of the rough edges that were less about difficulty and more about a blatant disregard of the player’s time. Still, they managed to retain the soul of the game at its core, with the changes being relatively minute enough that again, naught but the most hardcore of fans would realistically even notice them at a glance.
Demon’s Souls on PS5 is a brand new vision of a classic, one that captured the hearts, minds, and frustrations of many a player more than ten years ago. Bluepoint retains its pedigree of respecting the original while making the new update seem wholly fresh. If you missed Demon’s Souls the first time around, or maybe if you just want to relive some old traumas, the PS5 remake is an excellent archstone to pass through for newcomers and Boletarian veterans alike. Who knew that one of the best PS5 launch titles would come from recapturing the lightning in a bottle that struck back in 2009? You may have died again, but Demon’s Souls lives on thanks to Bluepoint and the PS5.
Demon’s Souls review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS5. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.