Dark Souls Remastered (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 30.05.2018 10

Review for Dark Souls Remastered on PlayStation 4

Early in the eighth console generation, Dark Souls II got a remixed remaster known as Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. This enhanced port got much needed refinements and rebalancing, as well as all the DLC implemented into the core game. One of the most welcomed enhancements was the much higher frame-rate and the new enemy placements that made more logical sense in the context of the settings. The adjustments made in Scholar of the First Sin were welcomed and naturally every From Software fan eagerly anticipated the inevitable remastering of the original Dark Souls, the series favourite. All three games are now on eighth generation consoles so late-comers can finally see where this widely copied phenomena began, but is Dark Souls Remastered the best way to experience the descent into Lordran?

With the PlayStation 4 having Bloodborne and all three Dark Souls available, it is very interesting to see how the series quality shifts. Some advancements to the formula are introduced and dropped in a single game, while others carry over. In some cases, the worst ideas end up staying through the franchise, like how playing while hollow has no penalty. This was a design that was dropped from the very first From Software "soul" game: Demon's Souls... the one the world forgot. Demon's Souls was not perfect; it had frequent and long load times, a limited equipment pool and some obtuse design, like Boletaria's infamous climbable ledge. When Dark Souls came out, it made some natural progress with the formula. Things like how all the game's areas are interconnected, so the world was one cohesive map, was the next logical step after the Nexus hub. The combat was expanded by introducing back-stabbing, kicking, and plunging attacks.

Screenshot for Dark Souls Remastered on PlayStation 4

From Software did take a few step backwards when making the leap from Demon's to Dark. The aforementioned lack of consequence when playing hollow meant there was no real incentive to be in human form other than for aesthetics... which won't matter if a character is decked out in full body armour. In Demon's Souls it was a real risk to play as either phantom or human since the former meant playing with only half of max HP and the latter meant that users would be vulnerable to invading phantoms. Dark Souls has no substantial trade-off when considering the option. Even the amazing Bloodborne did not get this right. Even the obtuse, yet fascinating, "World Tendency" mechanic got dropped in favour of the "Covenant" system, which was mostly useful for online play. World Tendency was such a gutsy design choice in Demon's Souls because it punishes failure by introducing even harder enemies into stages. It was part of the appeal and atmosphere, and the fact that this remaster of Dark Souls is so safe in terms of refinement is disappointing. Dark Souls Remastered could have done with a bit more experimentation, like how Scholar of the First Sin made strides to improve on the vanilla game. The original Dark Souls had room for improvement.

Now running at a very steady and fluid 60 frames per second, Dark Souls no longer has the excuse of technical limitations. From Software's design can now be scrutinised without any distraction and, for the most part, everything holds up. Exploring Blight Town with such fluid gameplay is like playing a totally different game. The dragon's fire on the Undead Burg's bridge no longer makes the game play like molasses. Every part of the adventure feels very smooth and responsive. Some of the lighting has been enhanced, which can be noticed by looking at how real-time illumination occurs with torches and how the light reflects off armour and weapons. Certain atmospheric effects have been improved, like shadow quality, fog, and ember particles. It is not always for the best, though, since it seems that whoever made this update, sought to dump every piece of armour into a launderette and give everything a spit-shine. There is a noticeable sense of cleanliness in this version of Dark Souls; much of the grit seems to have been scrubbed away and it affects the look and feel of the world, making it feel bland. When this first came out, the palpable filth and grime made everything feel real. Some of the new textures and assets miss the mark that From Software intended, even if they are technically "better."

Screenshot for Dark Souls Remastered on PlayStation 4

With so many "souls" style games to come out over the years, it is a shame that this update is inconsistent with some of the aspects that were improvements in the sequels. Dark Souls Remastered still uses the old four-way rolling while locked on to targets, something that is very hard to go back to after so many entries. The hit-detection and collision are still woefully inaccurate and implausible - expect to get unfairly whacked from enemies that are behind thick stone walls. The latter parts of the game are still poorly designed, such as the Crystal Cavern, which was easily the weakest part of the original, is still as unrefined as ever. It still feels like the collision is broken and characters will slip and slide off flat surfaces for no reason when playing this area because when it was first developed, it was rushed. This remaster was the chance to refine and re-think this stage to make it better and it was completely wasted. The Crystal Cavern is just one example of how From Software had to rush the development late in the cycle. Other areas that don't feel fleshed out that could have been improved in this update include Anor Londo, which is still just a boring palace with a few enemies guarding some areas. This could have been a great chance to experiment with the advancements in this series by implementing roaming enemies in the palace instead of just standing in one spot, waiting for anyone to get close.

Screenshot for Dark Souls Remastered on PlayStation 4

The biggest improvements, outside of the stable, high frame-rate, are small quality of life adjustments. Things like button-remapping, the option to re-size the HUD, and even being able to use multiple soul-items at once, are worthwhile inclusions. Sadly, this is as good as the improvements go.

Most people interested in this series will likely be satisfied just to explore Blight Town with a stable frame-rate, which is what they are going to get, and not much else. This is still Dark Souls in all its glory, for the most part, even if some of the atmosphere has been reduced due to some of the high detailed assets missing the point of the original. For those who have not played the vanilla release, this may be tricky to get into since it does not have much of the forward-thinking features or polish that later From Software games have, like Bloodborne or Dark Souls III. This is still one of the better games to have come out in the past decade, for its unique world building and its unmatched level design, which holds up today. With so many copy-cats out there, like Ni-Oh, Lords of the Fallen, The Surge, Absolver and the inevitable Code Vein, Dark Souls Remastered still crushes the competition. Even with all these technical flaws still present, the spirit of innovation and creativity still burns brightly.

Screenshot for Dark Souls Remastered on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

If there was more attention given towards improving what was already a great game, Dark Souls Remastered could have been perfect. Instead, it falls somewhere in this half-hearted limbo. Finally, it has a very stable and high frame-rate, but the collision and hit-detection is still unfairly off. This is one of the defining classics of the seventh generation consoles. It spawned its own sub-genre of action RPGs and gave From Software an unfathomable amount of credibility. It deserves better than this. If Scholar of the First Sin gets extra polish and refinement, it is tragic that the first entry in the trilogy does not get the same effort. When the inevitable day comes when Demon's Souls gets a remake or remaster, hopefully it gets more care than Dark Souls.

Developer

QLOC

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Personally I feel that this was a lost opportunity. People who'll play this for the first time will probably love it, but as a DS vet, I feel somewhat... meh...

( Edited 30.05.2018 23:39 by Ofisil )

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham
Del_Duio (guest) 31.05.2018#2

Up next: Dark Souls- Remastered... For Real Version!

Great write-up, Del_Duio approves!

 

Runa (guest) 31.05.2018#3

"You can't slide down long ladders" - A factually wrong statement. You definitely can slide down long ladders, I do it all the time. Hold down Circle (B on Xbox One) and nothing else. Simple. 

 

Runa (guest) said:
"You can't slide down long ladders" - A factually wrong statement. You definitely can slide down long ladders, I do it all the time. Hold down Circle (B on Xbox One) and nothing else. Simple. 

my own incompetence.

this whole time ive using X hopelessly.  never trust a game reviewer, kids.

i still stand by the rest of the substance of my review. ill see to it being adjusted.

Aluccard (guest) 02.06.2018#5

I couldn't disagree more with most of this review, but I also had to comment and say that I've been sliding down ladders the entire game on the PS4. 

i dont know how anyone can disagree with the inconsistent hit detection

Our member of the week

I'm starting to feel that it's for the best that the Switch version was postponed indefinitely. If it means we get a more stable release right at launch with proper hit detection and the like on the cartridge that won't require a massive additional download to rectify things, I'm all for it. It's not like there aren't enough Switch games to play with already anyway, on the contrary.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
I'm starting to feel that it's for the best that the Switch version was postponed indefinitely. If it means we get a more stable release right at launch with proper hit detection and the like on the cartridge that won't require a massive additional download to rectify things, I'm all for it. It's not like there aren't enough Switch games to play with already anyway, on the contrary.

dark souls 1 never had proper hit detection. it likely never will. it was always something you had to compensate for when playing. 

Runa (guest) 02.06.2018#9

I just got my platinum, played the game for close to 80 hours over the past week or so, and I can say that I didn't notice any significant hit detection. 

I DID notice that walking on/over some surfaces seemed broken (The one platform in the crystal cave being a prime example), but hit detection seemed fine to me. 

Runa (guest) said:

I DID notice that walking on/over some surfaces seemed broken (The one platform in the crystal cave being a prime example), 

thats what collision is.

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