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Dark Souls Remastered Review

by William Schwartz

It's the Dark Souls of Dark Souls games.

Dark Souls Remastered Bonfire

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When the original Dark Souls released back in 2011 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 it was a game that was not without its problems.  An ambitious game, the original Dark Souls was a little bit too much for the consoles it landed on.  From Software did not compromise on their original vision, but because of that, there were numerous spots in that game that had performance issues.  It wasn’t the best looking game on the market, but the whole package was everything that fans of Demon’s Souls had been waiting for, and it was the game that made these brutally difficult games a mass market appeal.

Six and half years later, we have Dark Souls Remastered.  Let’s get this out of the way.  Dark Souls Remastered is the best way to play this game on consoles.  For review purposes we took a look at the PlayStation 4 version on PlayStation 4 Pro, so we can’t speak to the performance on other platforms.  However, the PC version of Dark Souls certainly had better performance than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game after fans and modders stepped in to improve the game following release.  Dark Souls was also one of the games that was released on the Xbox One with Backwards compatibility and both the Xbox One and Xbox One X versions of the original release are better than the original 2011 release.  On the PlayStation, there hasn’t been an alternative way to play Dark Souls… until now.  We’ve played and visited just about every area of Dark Souls Remastered on the PlayStation 4 Pro and it’s a fluid 60FPS with upscaled 4K.

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That means a lot of things for Dark Souls Remastered.  Sixty frames per second in this game makes it a far more enjoyable game than it ever was on consoles.   That’s a broad, sweeping statement that I think applies to the game as a whole.  Just take a look at the game in its original form.  Dark Souls had some pretty terrible frame rate issues that saw the game struggling to maintain a solid 30 FPS throughout the labyrinth-like, monster-infested world that From Software created.  This type of improvement to visual fidelity is about what you expect from a remaster of this nature.  It’s stable and there’s a visible upgrade to what came before it.

With these improvements, Dark Souls is very fun to go back and play.  It’s probably the most difficult game in the Souls series.  Cryptic in nature, there is a lot to learn here for first timers.  While From Software did make Dark Souls 2, Dark Souls 3, and Bloodborne more accessible, this game retains all of the difficulty that it originally had in forcing players to deal with things like weapon durability, curses, ailments, enemies that never truly die, and the constant threat of progression loss.  Of course there are now plenty of guides and walkthroughs to help players navigate the difficult terrain, but whether you tackle this game with them or without, it’s still a taxing experience full of tense encounters, big boss battles, and secrets to uncover.

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Dark Souls has definitely been remastered on the presentation front, but there is plenty that players will encounter that carries over from the original game.  This means that some of the boss cheese and player vs player cheese that was in the original game makes its return for Dark Souls Remastered.  I’ve personally played the game numerous times from its original release, and it was somewhat surprising to see some things like certain bosses being able to be easily defeated by glitches that are still in the game over six years later.  Is there more that From Software could’ve done with Dark Souls Remastered in terms of fixing things in terms of gameplay?  Probably.  A lot is still left to be seen, as players jump back into the game on the Player vs Player front we’ll be able to see whether the Dedicated Servers that have been added will hold up, and whether the gameplay from the network test will be representative of the final product.  In this review we used the Network Test and a retail copy of the game to come to our conclusion on the overall quality of Dark Souls Remastered’s online functionality as servers were not live during the review period.

We did review the PS4 retail version of Dark Souls Remastered for this review, but it’s worth commenting here for those that are looking to purchase on Xbox or PC.  While we expect the Xbox One version to perform comparably to the PlayStation 4, the PC version could be another question entirely.  We haven’t had a chance to see that game running, and given this particular game’s issues since launching in 2012 and From Software’s abandonment of the release, it’s probably a good bet to take a wait and see approach to Dark Souls Remastered on Steam.  Unfortunately, Bandai Namco has removed the original PC version of the game from Steam and the mod support that it had.  So if anything is wrong with the game at launch, it could be the modding community that makes it playable after release.   This is purely speculation, but the concern is warranted.

All that said, Dark Souls is still an incredibly enjoyable experience to this day.  While PC owners were probably just as well off as they were before this release, console owners will have their most definitive way to play the game on either Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

The Verdict

So if you’ve been there and done that do you need to go back and play Dark Souls again in Dark Souls Remastered?  It’s a game that definitely laid the roadmap for the Souls games to come.  The level designs, boss designs, art style, and gameplay certainly hold up.  It’s the Dark Souls of Dark Souls games, and the issues that plagued the console versions that released in 2011 have been remedied… what else needs to be said here.

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Dark Souls Remastered

  • Available On: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Published By: Bandai Namco
  • Developed By: From Software
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • US Release Date: May 24th, 2018
  • Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
  • Quote: "It's the Dark Souls of Dark Souls games, and the issues that plagued the console versions that released in 2011 have been remedied... what else needs to be said here.  "
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