Gently Modifying A Masterpiece
Seven years later, the influence of From Software’s Dark Souls on the games industry is impossible to ignore. A challenging atmospheric experience through classic fantasy tropes with a grim tint, Dark Souls spurred an entire genre of souls-like titles, and provided a haven for those who love exploration, larger-than-life boss battles, and a world drenched with mystery. Dark Souls Remastered is the way to play the game today if you’re on console, though PC players may have experienced many of the same improvements via Durante’s famous DSFix mod.
The most important part of the remaster is the upgrade to 60 fps. Even areas that were notorious for slow chugging like Blighttown run smooth the whole way through (although the zone is still an abomination of toxic poison, ogres, and rickety ladders). Everything looks crisp and clean, and you won’t slow down at an inopportune moment when you’re jamming your zweihander into a disgusting monstrosity’s flesh. For those that experienced the original title on console, these changes alone make the remaster worth the price of admission.
In addition, Dark Souls Remastered brings other aspects of the game up to speed with its modern counterparts like Dark Souls III. You can remap your buttons for a control scheme that suits your playstyle, use multiple items at the same time instead of having to laboriously consume each little bundle of souls, and change your covenants at bonfires. Even playing with your friends is easier than ever thanks to the implementation of a password system. These minor changes are nice additions, and don’t fundamentally alter anything from the core title.
For those new to the series, you can expect a captivating crawl through a mesmerizing dark world, full of unforgiving encounters, majestic foes, spectacular loot, and beautiful environments. The amazing moments that define the series like triumphing over the legendary Ornstein and Smough battle or wandering your way into Ash Lake for the first time are as epic as ever. The degree of openness in Dark Souls can lead you venturing into dangerous areas early on, so don’t get dismayed if you suddenly find yourself up against something impossible – instead, perhaps look for another route. The interconnected, shortcut-laden world that wraps around the Firelink Shrine is something wonderful, once you have your bearings. The lauded DLC for Dark Souls, Artorias of the Abyss, is included in the remaster and features some of the best characters and battles in the entire franchise.
All improvements aside, Dark Souls does feel its age in the face of From Software’s recent contributions to the genre. The drop off in quality in the second half of the game, bosses like Bed of Chaos and incomprehensible zones like Lost Izalith remain curious blemishes on an otherwise incredible experience.
This review pertains to the PS4 version of Dark Souls Remastered. The game is also available on Xbox One and PC and is coming to Nintendo Switch.