Before embarking on a vocal journey through the quite brilliantly named land of Lordran, home of the Lords, let me tell you a little story.
It was the summer of 2010 and after seemingly having a fair amount of disposable income I meandered into my local GAME store.
‘One of your shiniest PS3 consoles please, fine shopkeep’ I loudly remarked as I entered the building.
After having the concept of queuing and lowering my voice in public places explained to me I was asked what games I wished to purchase.
This is something I hadn’t really paid much thought too. Sure I’d pick up the latest FIFA title, but aside from that I wasn’t quite sure what to buy. The manager was incredibly helpful, asking me about what kind of games I enjoyed playing, the usual suspects – Zelda, F-Zero and Mario all mentioned, to name but a few.
‘Zelda? Oh, you want Demon’s Souls mate’ he instantly replied, ‘It’s basically Sony’s version of Zelda!’
Well, after rushing home, as giddy as a kid at ten past 3 on a school day, it imminently became apparent that this was in no way like a Zelda title.
I tried to play it, I tried to get into it, but I never could and instead neglected it, and all the Souls titles that followed.
Now, thanks to the graciousness of my esteemed colleagues and the fine people over at Bandai Namco, I have the very real task of writing about this game. So on that note, I’d best crack on and actually play it.
If only I could be so grossly incandescent
The premise of Dark Souls is simple. Stay alive long enough to make it to the next check point. In this case, checkpoints come in the form of bonfires. Once seemingly safely resting at a bonfire you can recover health, level up and really just take a moment of respite.
From my time with Dark Souls Remastered, the aspect of game play that stands out above all else is the level design. From Software have done a masterful job of creating an expansive evolving game environment that challenges the player to learn, to explore and perhaps most importantly tread carefully.
Dark Souls employs a technique, certainly in the numerous areas that I explored, which leads you up then brings you crashing back down. It’s all part of the never ending learning curve that makes Dark Souls so deliciously addictive, albeit incredibly infuriating. For example, in the early area of the game you are told you need to ring 2 bells. 1 is at the top of the church, the other down below in the ominously named Blight Town. The game intentionally leads you to the church, with little visual clues. Rays of sunlight penetrate the clouds above and promise you at least the smallest grain of hope. Heading down only leads to an eerie darkness that new players, scrubs as referred to by the Dark Souls community, certainly won’t like the look of.
Where the excellent game design really shines is when you feel like you’re making great progress, heading higher and higher in the gorgeous medieval architecture, only to find the path ahead requires you to once again descend. Whether by a crumbled staircase, and having to find an alternate path to traverse, or a seemingly gigantic foe, these moments remind the player of just how treacherous and unforgiving Dark Souls Remastered can be.
In a way, it’s reminiscent to a piece of classical music, that stirs up emotions with a calm passive introduction, only to explode into life at breakneck pace before slowing, calming and allowing the senses to recover, only to rinse and repeat.
Praise the sun!
It is important to clarify the game runs at 30FPS, not the 60FPS offered to its more meaty kin. And in some ways, that’s absolutely fine. The original was built around a frame rate of 30FPS, so this is obviously the way in which the game was intended to be played.
60FPS is great, 30FPS is perfectly acceptable.
Handheld mode is something that the publishers have been pushing hard, unsurprisingly considering the shambled way the delay was managed. So is it worth a double dip for veterans who picked up the remaster on one of the ‘other’ consoles back in May?
Yes and no.
The game performs amicably in handheld, suffering no drop in frame rate or slowdown in performance during my extensive time with it.
That being said, I much preferred playing Dark Souls docked. Everything about it is just more attuned for a home console experience.
On top of that, the game still appears to run whilst in sleep mode, which is interesting and absolutely the correct decision considering the tone of the title. Essentially what this means is if you do need to throw the system into sleep mode, make sure you’re safely camped out at a bonfire.
For the lucky people who manage to get their grubby little mitts on a Solaire amiibo, this item can be used in game to unlock the ‘Praise the Sun’ pose.
So that’s nice.
amiibo huh?! Pfft, more like SCamiibo. AMIRITE Solaire?….
Dark Souls Remastered is a must play title alongside the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. In much the same way as the aforementioned titles Dark Souls changed the way in which we perceive video games and gave birth to the whole ‘Souls’ genre that is commonplace today.
The game runs exceptionally well and offers a dark Gothic beauty that at times, combined with the sheer intensity of the game play, takes your breath away.
Paired with the ambient, orchestrated soundtrack, that adds layers of additional tension, fear and apprehension to proceedings, it’s difficult not to get swept up in this dark twisted medieval fantasy epic.
Dark Souls is a deeply enthralling, captivating experience quite unlike any other that keeps you coming back for more. Death is certain but it’s how you adapt to and learn from what led you to your untimely demise that defines you, a metaphor for life if ever I heard one.
I may never complete it, but it’s safe to say I’ll keep coming back to Dark Souls for as long as the game continues to surprise and impress me.
Generation defining experience. Modern masterpiece. Steep learning curve that rewards perseverance and patience with immense self gratitude. Joyous level design. Tight controls. Fantastic subtle use of light. Gorgeously presented and accompanied with a stunning score from Motoi Sakuraba.
Buy Dark Souls Remastered for $39.99 Buy Dark Souls Remastered for £34.99 Grab a physical copy Or, if you’re in the UK