Video games have always existed in a delicate state of flux thanks to gamers being incredibly hard to please. At one moment we demand innovation and new IPs to prevent stagnation and then in next we ask for familiar faces and the old favourites. Recently it seems as though we have been plagued with a stream of remasters, some more necessary and worthwhile than others (looking at you Skyrim).
Dark Souls is widely regarded as the best in the “Soulsbourne” series, a statement defended passionately by its fans. Everyone remembers their first trip to Lordran, stepping into the courtyard to leave the Undead Asylum and getting flattened by the Asylum Demon, dodging Silver Archers in Anor Londo or battling Ornstein and Smough. They’re just a few of the moments that make the game so iconic and well loved.
It wasn’t just for these moments but each individual player’s experiences and personal builds and battles that really made Dark Souls special. Without these the game wouldn’t have captured the hearts and broken the controllers of so many. Dark Souls 1 had a unique personality that the sequels failed to replicate despite its best efforts.
So, did it need a remaster and is it worth it? Honestly… no. The original Dark Souls isn’t old enough to be dated nor forgotten, the Soulsbourne games spawned an entire genre after all. Dark Souls Remastered‘s alterations aren’t all that noticeable, creature and monster textures are only slightly enhanced, giving a little extra detail. The lighting has also been reworked, allowing players to see the gloomy landscapes a little clearer and making areas such as Darkroot Basin a much more approachable location. Character and creature models are crisper and cleaner but that was never really an issue in the original.
Aside from that the only other observable change to the game was the inclusion of the ability to use more than one item from the inventory menu. Old hands will remember the agony of having to select every single consumable soul-item over and over again instead of being able to use all of them at once. Again, it’s a small tweak and not overly noticeable unless burning soul-items for a level up or upgrade.
Dark Souls Remastered doesn’t really bring all that much to the table visually and mechanically it’s still the exact same game. The clunky and unwieldy combat is unchanged, you often find yourself in a shield-faceoff with enemies waiting for them to attack and leave you an opening.
The other question surrounding Dark Souls Remastered is will it suffer from the same performance issues as the original? We are of course talking about the infamous Blighttown, its abysmal optimisation and tendency to haemorrhage frames. Sadly we can’t answer that question. We were expressly forbidden from journeying in that direction but if the areas we WERE allowed to explore are anything to judge by then Blighttown is going to be far worse! We were playing a demo build that was undoubtedly an early version of the game, but even still there were numerous frame drops, freezes and lags despite not doing anything exceptionally taxing.
Anyone still considering buying Dark Souls Remastered should definitely reconsider. This remaster adds little to no functional or observable value to make it worth picking up again. If you’ve got a hankering to play Dark Souls again just fire up your copy of the original again and play through that instead of dropping £60 on something that’s virtually unchanged.