I’m going to be fully open and honest in saying that I have never played a Souls game before, I have barely played any FromSoftware titles for that matter. So while most reviews will talk in great detail about the differences between the original and this remaster etc… I can only approach this as a newcomer to the series and I’m sure for many this will also be their first time with Dark Souls.
Dark Souls tells a very intriguing story but one that is obscure in nature making you work just as hard for it as you do in the game and largely leaving it up to the player’s interpretation. The premise is a different beast and weaves a fantastical tale of past events with the use of one hell of an opening cutscene. We then transition into a very different, very real hell in the Undead Asylum the starting point for our undead but sound of mind character.
Depending on how you have built your character when starting the game your experience will be somewhat different. The strategies and execution you employ will differ greatly but finding your way through the game is all part of the experience. Dark Souls can be a frustrating experience but not because it is overly difficult, far from it, you come to learn the patterns of the enemies as you die and repeat. You improve and overcome.
The frustration comes from you the player as you quickly try to race back to the point you last died, becoming sloppy in your movements and awareness. The game is not difficult, it’s very much in the hands of the player and can be a very rewarding experience when you overcome what has seemed to be an impossible roadblock.
The RPG elements within the game allow you to further customise your character and overall experience to your prefered style. This gives the game a great deal of replayability that many will find appealing. Throughout the game you’ll earn souls for defeating enemies and bosses, these are used as both EXP and currency and it’s up to the player in how they choose to spend them, wisely or not.
Given the repetitive nature of the game, it’s easy to grind out souls in order to purchase better items or give your stats a much-needed boost. Be wary though as dying in the game will mean losing all of your souls and starting again from the last checkpoint. You can, of course, regain those lost souls by making your way back to the place you last died but herein lies the inherent danger of the game. Be aware and take your time learning enemy patterns and you will succeed.
The environments you must traverse in Dark Souls are expertly crafted, they twist and turn taking you through all manner of different terrain and situations where combat can pose a challenge. Narrow and enclosed spaces might have you swinging a sword and only hitting walls as an enemy makes short work of you while boss fights will give just enough space to execute a victory, after a few tries of course. The developers really want you to work for your victories not punish you unfairly, though it may feel that way.
The remaster itself, and of course I have no basis for comparison between the two versions, is a little lacklustre. Based on remasters of titles from both the PlayStation 2 and 3 eras I was expecting a lot more in a visual capacity. The cutscenes look great as do the bosses in the game but generally the textures and environments still look very dated. The game is still a great experience to play through and it runs extremely well but I was hoping for more from the visuals, unfortunately, it’s just not at a level I’d have hoped.
Dark Souls Remastered is a frustrating but ultimately rewarding experience from start to finish. The updates visually may leave a lot to be desired which is unfortunate but the game runs really well with framerates holding steady throughout my playthrough. Visuals aside, Dark Souls Remastered deserves the praise it has been given all these years and I highly recommend trying it for yourself.