Where to begin with Dark Souls Remastered? Let’s start with Dark Souls, shall we? Originally released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011, Dark Souls made no pretence about being a game for everyone. It was brutally difficult. The story was also vague and incoherent, and it certainly could have used more polish. But, my (oh, my) was it good.
To this day, few games offer the same enchanting mix of challenge, engrossing gameplay and atmosphere – it practically oozed atmosphere out of every orifice. So from the moment you pressed play, weeks of your life would vanish in an instant. That is if you didn’t hurtle your gamepad across the room in absolute frustration.
It did not forgive, and those hurt by it won’t soon forget. That’s where Dark Souls Remastered missteps. It’s a lot of the same, really, which I suppose is a good thing, but it doesn’t really do enough to win back players who feel slighted by it. Nor will it appeal to anyone who isn’t new to the series or a dire fan.
For those who are interested in what’s new in Dark Souls Remastered, well, for one, it’s a much slicker presentation. Graphics have been improved in places, and most importantly, it runs at a native 60 fps – with relatively few dips and skips I’m happy to report and is upscaled to support 4K resolution on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, and technically it might not be, but 60 fps completely transforms the experience. Every carefully timed parry and each swing of your sword feels great; it feels more natural. In fact, deaths in Dark Souls: Remastered feel more like they’re actually your fault – the result of a bad decision or a poorly timed manoeuvre, rather than what sometimes felt like a cheap death in vanilla Dark Souls. That’s a good thing because you’re going to die a lot.
There are some other updates to the abhorrent kingdom of Lordran and its many dark, labyrinthine pathways and avenues. For one, matchmaking has been improved as well as the netcode in general. Several quality-of-life improvements have been made to its gameplay and control scheme. And… well, that’s about it, really. Like I said, it’s a lot of the same.
If you’ve yet to play a Souls game, you’ve been missing out, but there’s no denying that Dark Souls Remastered is a great place to start. It’s not a perfect remaster, more could have been done, but it is an improved version of one of the best action-RPGs of our time – perhaps even better than the games that followed, even Bloodborne. That’s pretty high praise.
If you like your games easy, you will fair no better in Dark Souls Remastered. It’s still as cryptic, migraine-inducing and unforgiving as ever. So I’d say, buy it.