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DARK SOULS: REMASTERED Review

FromSoftware’s Dark Souls was originally released in 2011, and was a brutal and challenging action roleplay that set you on the quest to rekindle the First Flame and undo the curse of the Undead. Over the years, Dark Souls was recognized as a modern classic and a masterpiece of a game whose unique design sent waves through the gaming industry. From Easter egg homages to directly inspiring indie titles, Dark Souls is unquestionably an influential piece of our generation. Now, in 2018, FromSoftware has released Dark Souls: Remastered, a rerelease of the beloved title with some changes — but is it really worth it for PC gamers?

Return to Lordran

At its core, if you purchase Dark Souls: Remastered, you’ll find just that: Dark Souls. This is the exact same title that was released in 2011. Most of you will be already quite familiar with the Dark Souls, or, at the least, have a general understanding of what the game entails with its infamous reputation. For those of you uninitiated, Dark Souls is an action RPG set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Lordran. Your nameless protagonist is marked with a mysterious curse that brands you as one of the Undead, a cursed people who are doomed to an eternal life where they will return again and again after every death and slowly lose any understanding of their memories or themselves. It’s up to you to choose your path in this crumbling kingdom and search for a means to resolve the curse and, perhaps, save the world.

Dark Souls is famed as a title that has a reputation of being brutal and unforgiving. This is both true and false. Yes, it is brutal, but it is rarely, if ever, unfair, and you will find it anything but unforgiving when the entire respawn system of the title is centered around allowing you to make up for your past failings. Dark Souls is an entry that requires willingness to learn, and utilizes a trial and error system that demands its players adapt and grow to overcome the challenges it will force them to face, and determine whether they will succeed or not based on how they choose to react. It’s this fair and rewarding system that is so beloved by many fans, even if it’s unloved by others. For those of you who pick up Dark Souls: Remastered, you’ll instantly be transported back to that iconic gameplay and story that we all know and love — an intense and intuitive system that saw this title rise to equal fame and infamy years ago.

Rite of Kindling

Many dedicated PC gamers might have had their first experience with Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, a port of the title from consoles that was critically slammed for being almost unplayable. This was quickly fixed with the support of dedicated community modders, but was never officially patched to any substantial degree. Dark Souls: Remastered, in its own way, makes amends for some of those egregious offenses. For owners of the Prepare to Die Edition, you’ll be able to purchase the remastered version at 50% on Steam, but the contrast to that is that Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is simply no longer available on the Steam store page. So, how different is the remastered version from what was already available?

Titanite Shards

The most distinct upgrade to Dark Souls: Remastered is the graphical upgrade. The game runs at a smooth 60 fps on 1080p. For most modern PCs, this should remain rather consistent across the board for you, even when you venture into the dreaded Blight Town. The only noticeable dips you’re likely to see might come from explosion or magic, but these seem to be rare and few and far between. Graphically, the title looks better, with the standard high resolution and an overall tuning up or rework on some of the textures and character models, but this is not always the case. For every two updated textures, you’ll find one that looks as though it wasn’t touched, primarily in walls and foliage spread throughout the title. Even the ones that are updated do still feel somewhat dated and Dark Souls, while still somewhat impressive to look at, has not exactly aged well. The thing is that, while these upgrades are certainly welcome, they’re not too much better visually than a modded version of Prepare to Die Edition. You can sit the two side by side and you’d likely find little to no distinct difference between the two options, in most cases.

Restore Humanity

Alongside the slight update to graphics, Dark Souls: Remastered provides a number of small changes to Dark Souls, mostly additions to the title’s basic quality of life by allowing things like changing covenants on the fly and being able to consume multiples of the same item at once. While convenient, most of them are merely minor additions that don’t necessarily provide much impact on the game besides sparing a few extra minutes in a campaign.

Dark Souls: Remastered has made a number of changes to multiplayer that will be immediately noticeable: dedicated servers, an increase in players in one world from four to six, password options to link up with friends, and the ability to summon even when a boss has already been killed. For dedicated PvP players, this is a huge plus, but frankly this only provides a small modicum of longevity to the Dark Souls community while not really enhancing the experience of the title. The Souls community is like any other game community, and you’ll need to be ready to accept griefers and cheaters as often as you’ll find genuine players who are helpful or honorable.

Lighting the Bonfire

Dark Souls: Remastered isn’t anything spectacular. For PC gamers, it’s essentially a $40 price tag for a seven-year-old title and, for those who have Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, it’s a $20 bill for a patch that should have frankly come out years ago. But, at the end of the day, that game is still Dark Souls, a spectacular title that’s worth pouring hundreds of hours into and very much lives up to its reputation in the gaming world. Dark Souls: Remastered is far from the best remastered title, providing no new content, barely updating the graphics, and only providing a small modicum of enhancement to the quality of life to the multiplayer — so the question of whether this title is right for you or not is largely dependent on who you are. If you’re a newcomer and have never played Dark Souls before, this is a perfect title for you and a golden opportunity to play this modern classic. If you’re a veteran Souls fan like me and already had a copy of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, then you can honestly skip this title unless you really want to replay the title with friends in smoother system. If you’re willing to pay the extra money, of course.

6

The Verdict: Good

Dark Souls: Remastered can almost barely be considered a remastered title for PC gamers and, while it provides some increase in graphics and quality of life improvements, these additions are largely negligible unless you’re a dedicated multiplayer fan. Despite this fact, Dark Souls is still an amazing game that is worth playing through more than once, and there’s a lot here for gamers who’ve never played through the first title in the Souls series. But, for veterans, this remaster is largely a hit or miss.

Alexander Leleux
Written by
June 21, 2018
Published in Action

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Alexander grew up with a controller in his hand and remains the annoyance of his gaming friends for being ‘that guy’ who continues to use one even when he’s playing on his PC. By day, he is a graduate student in medieval literature and a freelance writer. By night, he is an avid gamer, hobbyist, and victim of an unhealthy Warhammer addiction. With a passion for stories of all kinds, he firmly believes that video games are an excellent means of communicating a narrative and hopes to one day make his own mark on the Gaming Industry.

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