Dark Souls Remastered

I admit it, I never was able to beat the original Dark Souls when it was released on Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2011. A PC port of the game was also released but had limited 30FPS and clearly hadn’t taken mouse and keyboard controls into account. The game was difficult, but I’m the type of player who’s happy to replay an area on a level multiple times, however if I get to a point where I don’t feel like I’m making progress, it’s usually on to the next game for me. That being said, I do love the Dark Souls games, regardless of how difficult they are and how horrible I am at them. I love the atmosphere, I love the weight of your armor and weapons, I love the scenery, and at times I even love the challenge. This isn’t a review specifically about Dark Souls however, as the gameplay hasn’t changed at all from the original (DLC’s included of course), but rather a review of whether the remastered version is the definitive version that folks should play.

For those of you who have led a sheltered life, Dark Souls is a third-person action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware. It was the successor to their previous game Demon Souls (which was a PS3 exclusive) and carried over much of the game mechanics. The game takes place in what I call a semi-open world environment connected to a central area. You are free to travel to and from areas at will, although some areas will be inaccessible until you complete specific tasks. Bonfires act as checkpoints for each level, and at a bonfire the player can heal, refill their healing flasks, and level up if they have collected enough souls to do so. The downside to resting at a bonfire is that it resets the enemies, so areas that you worked hard to clear out must be cleared out again. The game is lauded for its difficulty, and for players to learn from previous mistakes to overcome obstacles, present company excluded of course.

The release of Dark Souls Remastered was an effort to address many of the shortcomings of the original from a purely control and aesthetic point of view. I was lucky enough to review the game on my Xbox One X and the new 4K visuals and lighting effects are truly a site to behold. The world while still dark and dreary, now boasted cleaner lines. While it’s difficult to describe how good it looks (there are plenty of websites dedicated to comparing pictures between the original HD version and the new 4K version) it is absolutely noticeable. The textures no longer look muddy, and the creatures almost pop off the screen. This IS the definitive version if you are looking for the absolute best console version of the original Dark Souls game out there.

While folks may balk at the need for 60FPS on a game that was clearly playable at 30FPS, it does make a noticeable difference. Your character responds more fluidly and there is never any perceivable stutter. When a game’s FPS drops below 30FPS as it did in various areas of the original, it can have a horrible affect on the player and lead to some unnecessary deaths. While many will argue about the ability to distinguish between 60FPS and 30FPS, there is no denying that consistent frame rates in this game can literally mean the difference between life and death. This is not an issue with the remastered version as there were not discernable drops in FPS in even the most crowded of areas.

This leads to what you are probably reading this review for…is it worth the price of admission? If you have never played Dark Souls before, then this is absolutely the version you should purchase. Not only are the FPS and visuals greatly improved, but it includes all the DLC from the previous version as well. If you have played it before but are interested in going through it again, then I certainly would play through this version as the graphics and frame rates make it well worth your time. If you have no desire to replay the game, or if it didn’t appeal to you the first time around, then there is little reason to pick it up. While there are notable visual improvements, there is no additional content (outside the DLC) or any changes to the game mechanics themselves to warrant a replay.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this review the original version came out in 2011 and I’ve had seven years of playing numerous other games under my belt to go back and best the enemies that lie within. So, with the much-improved graphics and smoother gameplay was I able to beat Dark Souls this time??? Well sadly no, apparently I still haven’t improved enough over the years to beat this game (and while I have Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III, I haven’t beaten those game either). I was able to play through most of the levels to see how the visuals had improved, but the same bosses still took no pity on me. Maybe another seven years of practice will make all the difference, until then maybe I’ll go back for one more try.

Pros: Smooth 60FPS, Incredible 4K visuals, Smoother game control

Cons: Still too tough for me, Lacking additional content

4.5 out of 5 Stars