Dark Souls Remastered Review: Nostalgia in 4K

Our Dark Souls Remastered Review, exploring the question: Should you buy DKS Remastered? We played it all, made a bunch of videos, updated the wiki and are now ready to tell you what we think about this recent release. You may be surprised to find that our initial impressions were a bit off the mark… (video coming soon!)

Genre: Action RPG
Developed by: QOLC / From Software
Published by: Bandai Namco / From Software (Japan)
Release date: May 25th 2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Launch Price: 39.99 USD

Dark Souls Remastered Features

  • Experience the original Dark Souls title with increased resolution (up to 4k) and 60FPS
  • Engage in a revamped multiplayer experience of up to 6 online players.
  • Obtain the Artorias expansion bundled with the game

Story & Setting

The game has made no changes regarding story and setting from the original release. This is, at its core, a graphic and “cleanup” update to the game that enables newcomers to the series to experience the original offering, while modernizing it in the most minimalistic way possible.

For those who have never played Dark Souls before, the story sets the stage for the trilogy: a cyclic world that is slowly progressing towards ultimate darkness from whence it came. You and others struggle, perhaps pointlessly, to bring about another dawn. But you may find that not all that is told to your character is as it seems, and will have opportunities to make choices accordingly.

Summarizing Dark Souls Lore in one paragraph

The world of Dark Souls is a world of cycles. Kingdoms rise and fall, ages come and go, and even time can end and restart as the flame fades and is renewed. These cycles are linked to the First Flame, a mysterious manifestation of life that divides and defines separate states such as heat and cold, or life and death. As the First Flame fades, these differences also begin to fade, such as life and death having little distinction, and humans becoming Undead. The onset of an Age of Dark, the time when the First Flame has fully died, is marked by endless nights, rampant undeath, time, space, and reality breaking down, lands collapsing and converging on one another, people mutating into monsters, darkness covering the world, and the Gods losing their power. To avoid this and prolong the Age of Fire, the bearer of a powerful soul must “link” themselves to the First Flame, becoming the fuel for another age. If this is not done, the First Flame will eventually die, and an Age of Dark will begin.

The truly unique experience of souls is that the story is not told by exposition but rather available only to those searching for it and willing to spend the time and effort mapping item descriptions and discerning truths from lies in every NPC dialogue available. If you let the promise of a glorious knighthood for a Sun Princess distract you, the unsavory truth of Gwyndolin’s reality may pass you by. If you fail to explore areas thoroughly, you may never meet Priscilla or learn of her world.

Dark Souls Remastered successfully delivers the original story, and stays true to its setting – except that souls are now a shiny hue of blue. Lore enthusiasts will surely have a field day with this one!

 

dark-souls-remastered-review-quelaan

Let the war of the waifus begin anew!

Design, Visual & Audio

The project had some back-and-forths in development and some features were ultimately dismissed including HDR but this remaster is, in the end, mostly about the graphics. And here is where the opinions of players will radically differ and the most controversy will lie. An important thing to note before going into this is that there are two really distinct camps for this game: Console players vs PC players. As I played on console, my opinion will be from a console player’s point of view.

The world of Dark Souls is fantastically designed, and that has not changed, but now we can see it in much sharper resolution in our larger screens. I have actually enjoyed looking at the higher resolution icons for items and discerning things that were not quite visible before, but the place where the remastered shined the most for me was on the enemies. Better textures and better animations meant that the bosses and enemies, with their details and qualities, acquired an enlarged “Presence“. I was honestly surprised to find a renewed interest in even the Frog-Ray. and I increasingly noticed details on each Boss encounter that I had not quite seen in the thousands of hours I spent with the original.

dark-souls-remastered-review-anor-londo

Still a pretty view!

You will not be blown away by the graphics, and areas with small corridors or the distant objects in the Forest may feel rather underwhelming. This is because seeing a higher resolution render of a low pixel design simply sharpens the fact that the base design is simplistic. You will, however, notice an overall improvement to the general atmosphere as lighting has been reworked to deliver more impactful scenes and make your own character better-defined.

You will absolutely notice the FPS difference and the performance. Blighttown is no longer a lagfest, and the many rolls in the toxic swamp can be precise and calculated. All animations being smoother also means you may notice some more enemy detail, such as the Taurus Demon’s hairs move – eerie!

Recent remasters like Dragon’s Dogma, Skyrim and Shadows of the Colossus have set the bar extremely high, and even if the Dark Souls Remaster doesn’t quite reach that level of quality, it is good enough to captivate the player. You often don’t notice anything is amiss when playing, which I think speaks volumes by itself, because you are playing a PS3 game on PS4 after all. While the environments themselves will most likely not stand out to the would be hollow re-experiencing Lordran again, they will surely notice the difference in enemies and Bosses, which have been given a lot of tender love and care.

It’s easy to see the negatives in Dark Souls Remastered, mostly because we have been spoiled with games like Assassin’s Creed: Origins, God of War, and we no longer see things objectively. We’ve become so accustomed to insane graphics that we cannot tolerate anything less than perfection, and Dark Souls Remastered is not perfect. However, you may have forgotten how it looked before compared to now, so we’ve left a little reminder for you below:

  • Some advise for those on PC who may feel this is not a “real” improvement over the freely available unofficial mod “DS Fix”: The issues that DS Fix introduced are, reportedly, nowhere to be seen in the official upgrade. Alongside this, other improvements to the remaster related to gameplay are likely to have more weight in your experience than the graphics could, so give everything due consideration.

 

Gameplay

Dark Souls is indeed all about the gameplay, and in this regard there’s little that Namco could have done to improve the original game that they haven’t done by releasing Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3.

It is entirely possible that many veterans will find it shocking just how “slow” everything is for this title, and perhaps gain a wholly new appreciation of the quality of life upgrades that time has brought us. Specifically, rolling in more than 4 directions in later Souls games would have been a nice addition here.

That said, and even though the majority of the pillars of gameplay remain unchanged, there ARE differences to how combat plays out. First of all, the framerate makes a HUGE difference when playing – as you are no longer guessing your swings but can see them precisely. This is a very important element of combat for me, and one that feels like a new experience.

Besides the several quality of life improvements (including some such as Covenant swapping at bonfires that I’m not entirely thrilled about), there are several fixes for known exploits that have been deployed, although we will not list them here as those exploits are still present on the original game.

dark-souls-remastered-review-dead-dragons

I caught myself enjoying the scenery a few times

[This might be addressed with a patch, but as it was not fixed as of publishing]. One glaring issue we would like to note in this section is that there seems to be some problem with input and delay. Occasionally you will press a button like attack or roll and nothing happens, but then 2-5 seconds later you pull off the animation, without having pressed anything else. I’m specifically referencing offline gameplay here, not online where lag might be a factor. It happens often enough that it can be frustrating, and I have also verified that it is happening to other players. Hopefully this gets fixed soon, or I foresee many unhappy players.

Last but not least, the most noticeable gameplay changes relate to Multiplayer. Being able to rejoin the frey of “launch day souls” for one of my favorite titles with even more participants is a blast. I had no troubles summoning other players and could get constant and fast action offering my services for hire. I also took full advantage of the new password system to aid fellow reviewers that needed my help or wanted to test some trade mechanics.

The enhanced experience made Dark Souls feel fresh and engaging, and the more I played the more I wanted to keep playing, just like the old times!

dark-souls-review-solaire-ps4pro

PRAISE THE SUN!

Should you buy Dark Soul Remastered?

Remasters, Remakes and Reboots are a divisive proposition at the best of times. I am personally not opposed to them, and only interested if I get something out of it such as a modernized experience. For me, Dark Souls Remastered is worth the price based chiefly on the opportunity to re-experience Dark Souls but in 4k from a new platform, with a revitalized multiplayer. PC players who believe the graphics upgrade is lackluster can consider the accommodation that their price is only 20USD and arrive at a conclusion on the worthiness of the purchase based on their online play.

Dark Souls Remastered may not be perfect, and I must admit I went into it with some degree of worry, but the magic of the game is too strong and you will feel the nostalgia wash over you. Bandai Namco has successfully pulled off this remaster, somehow, someway, and I don’t think you will truly understand until you play yourself. I cannot wait for May 25th to see what you all think!

For those who started with Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3 or have never played souls: the Remaster is an unmissable experience that they should not pass up on. The original Dark Souls will open your eyes to how this all started, and hopefully fill the gap until we get some other title to scratch that souls itch.

 


If you are looking for more Souls content, you might want to check out our Dark Souls 3 Review, or focus on what is new with Dark Souls Remastered and some details on DKS Remaster Development. Keep up to date on everything Dark Souls Remastered with upcoming Video Walkthroughs, Boss and Build Guides, and more!

 

About our Reviews

This post is also available in: frFrançais

8.8
Summary: A wonderful trip down memory lane, in 4k and 60FPS. Engaging combat, thrilling multiplayer and intriguing lore make Dark Souls Remastered a worthy purchase for veterans looking to polish their backstabbing skills; and a mandatory buy for those who never got around to playing the original 2011 release.
Story & Setting (9)
Design, Visual & Audio (8.5)
Gameplay (9.5)
Replayability (8.5)
Pricepoint (8.5)
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MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

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58 comments on “Dark Souls Remastered Review: Nostalgia in 4K”

  1. Avatar PrimeraEspada91 says:

    Let strength be granted, so the world might be mended.

  2. Avatar BWO_RazrSrorm says:

    The real question is does lost izalith still burn my eyes?
    Also when playing/writing this review did you have access to the day 1 patch version?
    Because I had seen there was supposed to be a day one patch from a few different sources. Couldn’t find any validity to it though.

  3. Avatar Fexelea says:

    The game’s lightning is different and I played in a 4k screen so I’m not sure how it will work for you.

    I had a patch a day or two ago, I don’t know if there’s another patch for launch day.

  4. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Video added! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CehfwFjcu_Q” rel=”nofollow

  5. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    I just remembered that I should try the Ceaseless trick to make him non-aggressive. I figured if the left it in, it wasn’t a glitch. Though I wonder if the fact that I only know of two people who have bothered with it makes it too small of a thing to fix even if it was a glitch.

  6. Avatar eremHaNeoN says:

    If you’re talking about the lava in the game, which indeed was an eyesore, based on this video the glimpses of lava shown would indicate yes, finally the game can be played without going blind after entering the fiery areas.

    EDIT: Actually here’s a much better view of the lava in the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaihENre9Hc” rel=”nofollow

    Definitely an improvement there I say. You can all put your sunglasses away when entering this area now finally.

  7. Avatar BWO_RazrSrorm says:

    Interesting. Gotta say I might miss the pain in my eyes. aha.

  8. Avatar Nahztek-Shadowpath says:

    All my ranting and threats were for naught.
    Guess I’ll be seeing some of you later tonight (PS4).

    Praise the Dark!

  9. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Haha yeah in the end we all want launch days souls :P

  10. Avatar BWO_RazrSrorm says:

    Unfortunately I don’t have the money for it. So even If I really wanted it I couldn’t buy it to play on launch. Have fun yall.

  11. Avatar Back_Lot_Basher says:

    I went and bought a card to put money in my wallet, but still haven’t been able to bring myself to pull the trigger. The game is $55 plus tax in Canada, and as much as I’m curious about revisiting the game, it just seems like a lot for a new coat of paint and smooth framerate. So far nothing I’ve read has made a compelling argument that this is a must play release. If I can get through a few days of New Game Hype, I’ll probably end up passing until it shows up on sale.

  12. lordherpie says:

    Well, ive played it for a bit now.

    I bought the steam version and the PS4 version since the PS4 isnt always available to me, because it conflicts with the interests of the rest of the family, i decided to get the PC version as well (with the discount because i already had the PTD edition).

    Tried the PC version on my laptop which isnt really for gaming, but its pretty good, but it crashed on me twice and had a few moments of slowdown.
    then when it was midnight i switched to PS4 pro (my preferred method of gaming) and it played smoothly in the 1.5 hours i had with it before falling asleep. performance was flawless on my 4K TV. Graphics weren’t special… its still dark souls as it was years ago, but now in 60FPS which is awesome. other than the FPS and increased resolution the graphics are nothing special enough to warrant a new playtrough.

    is the game worth buying if you already played Dark Souls?
    In my case, absolutely… ive replayed DS3 and DS2 many times, but never replayed DS1 after DS2 and 3 came out for the simple reason that the horrible performance became a real annoyance by todays standards… no i can finally replay all the dark souls games in a quality that is up to todays standards. And the first few hours filled me with joy, the otherchanges in the soul series (like DS3 and bloodborne being much faster and feeling more fluid in animation) don’t bother me at all, the slow pace of DS1 doesnt feel odd to me, even after playing DS3 very recently. its a different game, and i accept those differences.

    recommended when:

    – you want to play DS for the first time
    – you are not bothered with graphics that are below todays standard (its still not ugly though!)
    – you want to replay dark souls, but the originals performance issues annoyed you.
    – if you apreciate level design… the first DS game is one of the best games ever (imho) in this department.

    not recommended

    – if you want to be impressed with graphics (its not even in the same league as the Shodow of Colossus remake)
    (as a side note i want to say that it DOES look good, animations are fine, and artistically the game is the same masterpiece it always was, its just
    technically inferior to most games today (textures, details).
    – if you have low tolerance for old school game mechanics, slow controls and combat-pace.
    – if you played the original last week, and didnt care at all that FPS was dropping to 15 FPS in blighttown.

  13. Avatar BWO_RazrSrorm says:

    Yeah i’m bending a bit just because others are playing it. I’m trying to hold off until a sale as well. But i’ll admit. it’s tough.

  14. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    Got it as a towel day present. So far I’m digging it. Small performance tweaks in a couple areas make a big difference to me. Gonna try to dive into co-op tonight

  15. Avatar DarkGerald says:

    Yes the nostalgia is definitely a huge factor in why I am enjoying the remastered version so much. I forgot how convenient it was in the later installments that we can warp right away to any bonfire, in DKS1 you can’t escape hell that easily (damn you cursed blighttown!). But thanks to the master key I managed to build myself quite a powerful sorcerer right from the start and have cleared all bosses up until placing the lord vessel within a day, now I’m going for the big ones.

    That being said, can it be that they changed Ceaseless Discharge? The old trick of just standing at the entry does not work anymore it seems because it cannot drop down, it is actually walking on the lava :D

  16. Avatar IgnusKnavery says:

    I bought it for the PS4 even though I stated I wouldn’t. It was more of an impulse buy. I regret it. I have a 60 inch TV and it looks muddy and lacks definition. I’ll continue to play it, but I’m not real happy with the outcome of this remaster so far. I own the original on PC and PS3 and I had to pay an additional 40 bucks to get it on PS4. Honestly, I think that’s a frickin’ crime. But it’s my problem. I bought it and have to live with it.

  17. Avatar Fexelea says:

    I’m on a 60 inch tv as well and do not see a lack of definition, are you on a PS4 pro?

  18. Avatar Back_Lot_Basher says:

    I wasn’t going to bring it up until Ignus did, but I was also annoyed about the discount for PC and not for consoles. Especially when you consider that the Souls franchise owes much of its success to PS3 (Demon’s Souls), and later to Xbox as well for Dark Souls. I played Demon’s Souls, then owned Dark Souls on BOTH systems. I really think they should have offered some kind of loyalty bonus to consoles as well, and if not, then not have one at all. As much of a pull as nostalgia is, I’m doing my best to resist getting this at full price, not solely because of that issue, but in part for sure.

    I have all the respect in the world for From, and consider them one of my favorite developers/publishers, but this didn’t sit right with me.

  19. Avatar IgnusKnavery says:

    No, just the reg version.

  20. Bonaduce80 says:

    I can totally understand this point of view but has From anything to do regarding how this version of DS is being sold? My understanding is that they never took part of it and any marketing would be on Bamco’s side of things…

  21. lordherpie says:

    Im on a pro, with 55" 4K

  22. Avatar Nahztek-Shadowpath says:

    Yeah, it has some pretty shoddy lighting in areas, which will make it lack definition (regular PS4).

    I’m enjoying it because I haven’t played it in a few years and it’s always been my favorite Souls (tied with DeS).

    I’m kind of amazed (again) at how well designed the map and is and how well enemies are placed. It truley is one of the funnest action RPGs ever made.

    Whether or not is was worth 40$ will be determined by how long I play it.

    I actually have a system for this. It’s my –
    ‘50 cents a day rule.’
    If I get enough replay out of a game to balance out where I spent no more than 50 cents a day to play it, then it was worth my money.
    I’m not sure if it will. But it’s a strong possibility that over time, it will eventually balance out.

  23. Avatar BWO_RazrSrorm says:

    yeah tbh i’m even less exited about it because I found out there is weapon level matchmaking like DS3 (people been testing it over on the DKS reddit the past 2 days)
    There are deff upsides to owning this version and i’ll probably pick it up if it ever goes on sale for 20$ here on xbox. But not really a fan of how a lot of the online stuff I didn’t enjoy from DS3 made it into DKS. I get why. Just not fond of it.

  24. Avatar BackwardsBaboon says:

    Spot on! As someone else who has been playing DS1 since 2011 (well over 1000 hours between all 3 systems), your review sounds quite similar to my experience with the Remaster so far. Well worth it.

  25. Avatar Back_Lot_Basher says:

    Man, I feel like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld, "Master of your Domain". I couldn’t resist and slapped my money down even though I swore I wouldn’t. Too tempting. While the remaster looks nice, it isn’t mind blowing. But the high traffic for coop is awesome, and like the review said, with a better frame rate the combat is much smoother.


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