I must admit that I’ve never gelled well together with the gameplay of the Dark Souls series. Yet at the same time, I respect its dark and gritty aesthetic, as well as its approach to being an action-RPG with a horror-inspired twist. Dark Souls Remastered is the same game that you know from the original PlayStation 3 release, but now with cleaned up visuals and a few other tweaks that fans of the original will notice. However, despite being nearly identical to its original debut in every good way, many of the same problems I’ve had with the series are still present and never addressed, even after later games in the series improved upon its core formula and challenging gameplay.
In Dark Souls Remastered, you have the entire original game and its downloadable content Artorias of the Abyss in one package. The contents of everything here are the same as the original release, so don’t expect anything brand new or any easter eggs that tie into later games in the series. If you’ve played Dark Souls a lot before, then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting here.
This will be a disappointment for people who were hoping for something more to be added to the main game, especially since Dark Souls only had one piece of downloadable content when it first came out. The locations of items, weapons, monsters, and other special things of interest of the exact same, with little to no adjustments whatsoever.
That doesn’t mean that the remastered version of Dark Souls doesn’t come with any noteworthy changes. The game now runs at 60fps and can be displayed at 4K resolution when playing on the Xbox one X and PlayStation 4 Pro. In my game, I hardly ever experienced a drop in frame rate, even in areas that were heavily populated and detailed in the background.
The visuals of Dark Souls always had a lot of detailed built into the world and characters within it, so everything looks even grander in 4K resolution. A few of the bugs and glitches that were in the original game are also addressed, with a few of the areas you visit running much better than they did before.
The gameplay of Dark Souls is the most divisive amongst those that played it, and Dark Souls Remastered does nothing to change this for better or worse. Unlike later Dark Souls games, many of the menu issues and overly complicated processes for using certain items remain unchanged. At the same time, you can’t pause the action happening when the need arises, which can still lead to your character being killed even if you hide far away from enemies.
The camera still has a few issues that arise during some boss battles and skirmishes with groups of enemies. I found myself more than a few times getting the camera shoved up close to my character and blocking my view of enemies pursuing me. This would happen in addition to enemies attacking, and many times killing me, from out of view and without any sort of notification to let me know they were there. For some people, this is part of the charm of Dark Souls’ difficulty and challenge, but it remains an issue I have that has seldom been addressed throughout the series.
If you’re a fan of playing Dark Souls online with other players, you’ll be happy to know that not much has changed, with the exception of a larger player count in a single game. Instead of four players at a time, you can now have up to six players working together or invading your world. This definitely impacts how you can approach some boss fights you might have trouble with, especially the tougher ones scattered throughout.
The same can be said for those that love taking on other players through invasion, taking away other healing items and making for more tense battles that may cause a few people to throw their controller at the screen. But if you got easily frustrated with other players entering your game and hindering your progress, don’t expect Dark Souls Remastered to be any different. You can decide to remain in Hollowed to prevent others from entering your game randomly, but if you decide to regain your humanity then all bets are off.
If you love Dark Souls, then chances are you’re going to want to pick up Dark Souls Remastered to play through it once again. Those that never experienced the series before will still have to get over the unforgiving barrier for entry but can do so in a more polished way. The few outstanding design choices and shortcomings may still rub some the wrong way, only increasing the frustration for what the series is known for. There may be nothing brand new here for long-time fans, but what they loved about the original is still here and given a new coat of paint.
This review is based on a digital review code for Dark Souls Remastered for the Xbox One, provided by Bandai Namco.