Writing a full review of a game you’ve already previewed is a difficult task as you don’t want to just rehash the ideas you had previously. It’s made even more difficult when reviewing a remaster or a new system port. This review of Dark Souls Remastered is going to be one such review. That being said, after reading my early impressions once more, I’ve got some apologies and changes of opinion.
Is it worth it in 6 words: No real noticeable changes, don’t bother.
Dark Souls Remastered still adds very little to no new functionality, after all if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but I have to admit the differences between the early preview build and the full release of the product do seem quite stark. Frame rates are far more stable and smoother, with far fewer lags and hangs. Those you do experience are the ones inherent in the game itself, like the momentary lag between initiating a backstab and the animation actually starting.
Visually the game has been “enhanced” in a number of ways. The lighting mechanics do seem to be crisper and brighter, the environment is far more observable than it once was but it’s still kind of a mess in places. The lighting that is, the improved surface and environment textures on enemies, creatures and terrain alike really do lend themselves to some breathtaking views.
That one where you meet the grossly incandescent Solaire for the first time? Yeah, it’s pretty great. BUT, and you knew there was a but, the lighting is still kinda screwy in places, actually quite jarringly so. The aura of light around the Chosen Undead when entering a poorly lit location appears to have been expanded a bit but it comes at the cost of obscuring everything more than 10-20 feet away beyond recognition.
Blight Town has always been one of the stand out moments thanks to its horrible frame rate when entering it or navigating. Thankfully that’s been worked out and you no longer feel like someone has selected the wrong gear in the car and you’re kangaroo-ing through the journey. However it comes at the cost of visibility. Blight Town was never the most well lit of areas and it appears that to get around the frame rate issues of the previous Dark Souls release they’ve made it harder to see a damned thing. Tomb of the Giants also appears to be similarly messed up, it could be that it’s darker than it once was, or it could be that I mis-remember my misadventures in that hell hole but it certainly seems worse than it once was!
Mechanically the game is exactly the same as it was, retaining all the janky quirks we learned to love, dead angling still exists and it’s still brutal. Sure no-one expects a remaster to completely overhaul anything but it feels as though the only changes made are purely aesthetic, and while that’s great it feels like half a job, there were a number of issues that could have been smoothed over and improved. Although those janky mechanics are part of Dark Souls charm, it wouldn’t have been right to totally remove them from Dark Souls Remastered.
Perhaps its because I, like so many others, fell in love with the original Dark Souls, I spent an untold amount of time learning the secrets of Lordran and perfecting various character builds. But Dark Souls Remastered just doesn’t have the same lustre and appeal to it. In all honesty it hasn’t been long enough for the game to have required a remaster, how Skyrim got away with it is quite simply beyond me.
Dark Souls Remastered is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the same game just a little dressier and with a couple of the creases ironed out but otherwise its the same game we came to know and love. It was already a masterpiece despite its flaws when it first came out and the remaster takes what was already great and makes it prettier. Did it deserve a remaster? Abso-fucking-lutely! Did it NEED a remaster? No, not really.
It’s not been long enough to have warranted updating. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dark Souls and Dark Souls Remastered is just as great a game, it’s just not worth buying again so soon, even at the reduced price.