May 24, 2018
I still get shivers watching this intro.
I’ve been pretty negative about the gaming news these past months. After all, the gaming industry has been getting Jewed pretty hard for years now, and both the quality and political slant of games has taken a sharp downward turn.
But when something good happens, it’s good to take note.
You know you’ve made it when your product becomes a term of reference for everything else around it, as since the release of From Software’s Dark Souls back in 2011 the name has become synonymous with punishing difficulty (you may have heard the phrase “the Dark Souls of…” or “Souls-like”). It was a masterpiece of modern gaming back then, and this year From and Bandai Namco decided to remaster it, bringing the game to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch at a later date. We’ve been getting back into the rhythm of things recently on PS4 to see what has changed, and the good news is that things have definitely changed for the better.
Dark Souls, originally released in 2011, is in my opinion one of the best games of all time. That it was released in this dark era of shitty games is a welcome surprise.
While the game was made in Japan, it feels like the Whitest game I’ve ever played.
The setting is completely European in flavor, right down to the weapons and armor, and all the NPC’s are White.
The world is mysterious and dark, the gameplay is brutal but fair and precise, and the game never holds your hand with tutorials or waypoint markers, just like the old-school RPGs of my youth.
If you haven’t played this game yet, picking up this new remastered edition is definitely a worthwhile investment of your time and money.
The gameplay is apparently mostly unchanged, with a few minor tweaks, but with upscaled visuals.
First up on the chopping block is the 720p graphics, which make way for glorious 1080p on PS4 and Xbox One, with upscaled 4K available for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, with native 4K on PC (the textures are 2K, however). It’s always the case with older games that you never remember them looking that bad, but having played the original on Xbox 360 days before we got our hands on this, we can attest that it looks a lot better, dramatically and noticeably so. Admittedly, it does show its age if you take a fine tooth comb to it, like zooming in on your character’s gormless face up against a wall, but that’s really nitpicking.
It seems like a respectable upgrade, but not worth getting into if you already have the original game.
Another thing that will get Dark Souls fans praising the sun is the frame-rate, which ensures that you can now get your frames-per-second up into the double figures in Blighttown, where the original infamously stuttered and stumbled (meanwhile the PC master race doesn’t have to deal with the measly 30 FPS offered in the original version). Now everything runs at glorious 60 FPS, although we should make clear that the Switch version will still be locked at 30, running at 720p in handheld and 1080p docked.
Both the visual and the frame-rate affect the game in a major way, and we have no problem saying that it brings it into the modern era; it’s now looking like a title made for modern consoles. The animations are fluid (which is important when dodging and weaving your way around attacks) and with peak performance comes a higher chance of survival, both in combat and when you’re navigating the various precarious ledges around the world.
This game doesn’t have any trace of feminism, homosexualism or multiculturalism. Just sublime level design, a dark, oppressive atmosphere and a surreal plot that never gets in the way of the gameplay.
Every area is distinct, and will be burned into your memory forever.
In terms of gameplay, Dark Souls probably has the tightest melee combat mechanics of any game I’ve ever played, short of straight-up fighting games like Soul Calibur.
If you’re gaming on the PC, however, I do recommend you get the original Steam release and apply the community mods instead of buying this new remastered edition. It’ll be cheaper, and the mods can make it even better-looking than what From Software has done here.
Verdict: Buy if you’ve never played it before – otherwise, cherish your memories of this great, POZ-free game.