There’s no denying how influential the Dark Soul’s formula has been for the whole game’s industry over the past 5-10 years. The term Souls-like has become synonymous with a bunch of game’s that have tried to replicate the theme’s, mechanic’s and feel of the Dark Souls game’s. And for very good reason. When the game launched back in 2011 it was praised for it’s design choices, grotesque Gothic setting and for taking risks that many other game developers or publishers would have tried to scale back, such as the difficulty.
Other than some great quality of life improvements, Dark Souls Remastered is the same great game many enjoyed back in 2011 and the years since. And whether or not you’ve already played it, the new improvements along with coming to a new generation of consoles for the first time makes this remaster the definitive way to enjoy Dark Souls in 2018.
Dark Souls Remastered offers a few quality of life improvements that make the experience of playing the game better than it has ever been before. For the first time Dark Souls is playable in a smooth 60 frames per second and runs better performance-wise due to the increased power of current generation console’s compared to the one’s it launched on back in 2011. The increased framerate allows the game to play buttery smooth and also assists with the slight input lag the original had that caused many to say it “ran slow”.
Thankfully the performance problems in highly crowded area’s and the dreaded Blighttown have been fixed due to the additional processing power too. Where the original had trouble maintaining 30fps in these area’s, I encountered no problems throughout and while I’m no FPS connoisseur it seemed to maintain the 60fps(or as close as I could notice) at all times. And in a game that requires such precision and focus during combat, performance problems can quickly lead to unfair death’s. So the increased framerate will be the most welcomed addition for Dark Souls veterans.
This version also runs at 1080p resolution on both the PS4 and Xbox One while the PS4 PRO, Xbox One X and PC can run at an upscaled 4K. Which is a welcome change compared to the original game’s 720p output. No matter what system you’re playing on the game maintains it’s 60fps.
If you’re one that likes to enjoy their Dark Souls experience with other’s then you’re in luck. The multiplayer infrastructure and systems have been improved. Allowing 6 player multiplayer parties, increased from the original’s 4, matchmaking has been improved and the system has implemented Dark Souls 3’s password matchmaking to make joining in and slaying enemies with your friends so much easier. The remastered version also has dedicated servers for it’s online play, no longer relying on the old P2P network.
As mentioned, at it’s core the game itself is unchanged, the world design, story, boss battle’s & strategies are 1:1 with the original game. Polish studio QLOC have done a fantastic job with the remastered port and have kept the experience of the game faithful to the original. But compared with other remasters of recent years, little has been done here to modernise the game which is somewhat understandable as this is a remaster and not a remake but there is a noticeable difference in visual quality at times.
The game has now implemented a volumetric lighting engine which has lit the world in a more realistic way, along with some tweaks to the game’s particle system it has made a lot of the environments pop, especially the flame lit campfire’s. But it also draws attention to the human character models and texture’s in some environment architecture that look dated and lower in resolution compared to other assets, and the difference is quite apparent due to how great adjacent texture’s to the bad offenders look.
There’s never been a better time to jump in and play the original Dark Souls. Whether you’ve played it before and want to re-explore the expertly crafted world of Lordran or experience it for the first time. It’s hard to improve on something that was already so praised but with some visual, performance and quality of life improvements the team at QLOC that handled the remaster have managed to do so while still remaining faithful to what made the game great in the first place. While some of the in game assets are beginning to show their age and there isn’t anything new in the game content-wise for those that have already played through the game (possibly numerous times) it seems the true goal for this release was to make it accessible to those with current generation consoles and improve the performance. And that they’ve well and truly nailed.
A PS4 review code was provided by Bandai Namco Australia for the purpose of this review.