In this Demon’s Souls Remake Review we’ll be taking a look at the new realization of and iconic game, one that started a legendary franchise, one that is the grandfather of Souls, and one that is ultimately responsible for the existence of Fextralife. Never have we been so excited, and never has a review been so personal for us. So how is it? Read on to find out!
Demon’s Souls Remake Review: Is the PS5 Worth It? Nostalgia Never Looked So Good
Developed by: Bluepoint Studio
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: November 12th
Platforms: Playstation 5 (review platform)
Price: Standard Edition $66.99
Story & Setting Demon’s Souls Review
In Demon’s Souls players will take on the role of a fallen warrior bound to the Nexus in an attempt to save the land of Boletaria from an endless fog full of demons. Living and dying over and over again, they will slay demons with the aid of legendary heroes of the realm, as they gain power and try to lure The Old One back to sleep and end the nightmare.
Demon’s Souls takes place across 5 distinctive locations, represented by 5 Archstones, each with their own NPCs and lore. These worlds feel huge, and the levels themselves sprawling with lots to explore and secrets to find.
What you might find particularly amazing is the interaction between the NPCs and the player as you help them on their way. It’s hard to sum up in words just exactly how expertly weaved together their tales are, but suffice it to say that it has never been replicated to this degree in any Souls game since, Bloodborne included.
The locations of Demon’s Souls have never looked so good, realized in full 4k resolutions at 60 FPS, and you have never played a Souls game on console that looked so breathtaking. Bluepoint has done an excellent job of capturing the same moody darkness of Demon’s Souls, and the environments look and feel much like you would hope, giving off the same vibe they did over a decade ago.
Gameplay Demon’s Souls Review
The Gameplay of Demon’s Souls should be mostly familiar to those who have played any of From Software’s more recent titles, but there are mechanics even Souls vets will not understand if they have not played Demon’s Souls before.
Players will make their way through the 5 different Archstones in nearly any order they choose, defeating enemies and bosses, and collecting demon’s souls that they can use to level up, upgrade their equipment, and purchase items that may assist them in their journey. The difference in Demon’s Souls is that there is much more of a focus on the worlds themselves, and less of a focus on the Bosses.
Each Archstone is a playground, a deadly and visceral playground yes, but one players can get lost in discovering things that lie deep below the surface. So deep in fact that when Demon’s Souls was originally reviewed in 2009 it was received poorly. Journalists and Reviewers had not understood just what a jewel Demon’s Souls was, and instead all they saw was a brutally punishing game that few would ever play, let alone complete. They couldn’t have been more wrong…
The mechanics of Character Tendency and World Tendency, which are barely touched upon in Bloodborne, do not exist in other Souls games and cause each Archstone to change based on your current Tendency. Events happen, enemies move, new enemies appear, NPC quests spawn, and more depending on what actions you have taken in your game world. And ALL of these things are easily missed if you do not play over and over again, which is something that no reviewer and most players would not do unless they knew to because the game is so punishing.
Thankfully Fexelea, Samurai_Masurao and a few others dug deeper, compiling a list of these convoluted mechanics in the first Demon’s Souls Wiki in Japanese, and eventually English. Word spread as players banded together to help one another through Demon’s Souls turning it into a cult classic, a phenomenon not seen in gaming since. In short, the Souls community would not exist as it does today, if these hardcore Japanese players had not been the first ones to pioneer the way for the rest of us.
But beyond this, Demon’s Souls Remake changes very little from the original in the way of mechanics, only adding a few quality of life improvements here and there, without compromising the intensity of Demon’s Souls. That is to say, if those playing Demon’s Souls now for the first time have an easier experience, it won’t be by much. There are no “bonfires” near fog gates or checkpoints added, or anything of that nature. The Remake is actually closer to a Remaster than a Remake, and probably would be called one if the graphics were not completely overhauled. And while that should be mostly good news to Demon’s Souls veterans out there looking to pick this up and play with the noobies, there were some missed opportunities here that I will mention.
First, the rolling of the game is still really bad, even though it was improved from 4 directions to 8. Many many times, particularly after you get knocked down if you try to roll away, you will end up going some direction you had not intended whatsoever, and this is likely to get you killed. I feel like Bluepoint could have made rolling a lot smoother here, and it wouldn’t have broken the balancing of the game.
Second, the camera angle is at its worst when you need it the most. This is nothing new to Souls games, so this probably won’t come as a shock to many of you. This is especially true in the Demon’s Souls remake, where you are often traversing a cliff’s edge or fighting a boss inside a small covered area.
Many times you will play aggressively, and the camera works fine, but in those moments when you are under vigorous assault and you need to back peddle away quickly to create some separation, that’s when the camera fails, and it’s when you really need it to work.
There are different options for the camera in the Remake, but none of them fix this issue, one that is particularly noticeable if you are playing a Mage build where you must be locked on a lot more often. It’s really a shame that Bluepoint went through all the trouble to remake the game from the ground up, but didn’t fix these two things.
Audio, Visual & Design Demon’s Souls Review
Visually Demon’s Souls Remake is the best looking Souls game to date, and Bluepoint completely crushed all expectations in this department. Never has Boletaria looked so good, and the lighting and spell effects really bring the game to life. Demon’s Souls Remake has raised the bar for Elden Ring, which is only good news, since From will likely have to up its game or face serious backlash.
The music of Demon’s Souls has always been the best of any Souls game to date, and this still holds true in the Remake. You simply won’t find better boss music anywhere in the gaming industry than Demon’s Souls.
The voice acting is top notch, and amazingly Bluepoint was able to get all the same voice actors from the original to rerecord their lines, even further improving the quality of the Remake. Consider the Demon inside me touched!
Sound effects are excellent, and the sounds that spells make are simply fantastic. I could listen to them all day, and players will get a huge dose of nostalgia as they are summoned into another player’s world to the ever familiar chime. No complaints here, but you will note this means some sounds are different from what you remember.
Design-wise, Bluepoint did make some changes – both important and not. An important one would have been their redesign of the iconic boss Flamelurker: they originally revealed it as featuring a much more Balrog-like appearance. Community feedback quickly overturned that decision, but other small character changes exist within the game so some NPCs do not look as you remember them, and some bosses and enemy models have new details to their design.
Additionally, Bluepoint has completely remade the UI and introduced a more “accessible” view of World and Character tendencies. This is likely a welcome change as telling whether you were in pure black or just before it could be challenging back in the original, but for many the UI may feel somewhat off. It’s hard to describe, but the “You Died” screens are missing “something” and the overall UI seems too clean and lacking the “grunge” look we have come to expect from souls games.
Replayability & Pricepoint Demon’s Souls Review
My first playthrough of the Remake took me roughly 24 hours, and that was with having played the original about 6 years ago, and having a ton of Souls experience. I expect this number to be a lot higher for souls veterans who have not played it before, and even higher still for newbies to the franchise.
Demon’s Souls is not a game meant to be played once, it’s a game with the catchphrase “The Real Demon’s Souls Starts Here” when you enter NG+, and it is absolutely true. Manipulating world and character tendency, finding all the NPC events, collecting all weapons and spells is a multi-cycle affair that gets more and more fun as you go on.
This of course does not include the multiplayer aspects, which should add at least another 100 or so hours of gameplay in most cases, and likely more if you are a Souls fan who likes to co op and pvp a lot.
This is incredible value for the money, and is up there with other Souls titles and games like Monster Hunter World, and other online games that feature constant updates. I expect Souls fans to be playing this right up until the launch of Elden Ring, so the community should be very active until sometime in 2021 (assuming any of them can buy a PS5 since they seem to be non-existent).
Final Thoughts Demon’s Souls Review
As I watched the first seconds reveal of the Demon’s Souls Remake, the tunes of the dragon’s entrance into Boletaria made my heart stop and my breath catch. The Fextralife channels exploded with hype moments later, and an energy of “FINALLY!” took over the hardcore, who had been longing for a proper return to The Nexus. As months went by and details such as the introduction of pre-order armor and weapons were revealed, some degree of concern began to emerge among the community: was Bluepoint changing too much? Is the Remake going to be pay to win? Are all the bosses going to look different? Will the new music not match the nostalgia?
I am happy to report that the fears were unnecessary, and I felt very at home in the Demon’s Souls Remake. This is the title that created a new genre, and that actually “made” FromSoftware into the respected powerhouse it is today. It’s the title that, at a time when Nintendo was turning on “assist” that would literally play the game for you, instead taught gamers that yes: you can take on an incredibly hard and convoluted game and love it.
It’s important to note that, for us, launch day Demon’s Souls was a 10/10. In this review, however, we are measuring how the original game stood the trial of time, and how much Bluepoint has done to bring it up to modern standards. In this regard, the original perfect score of the game has degraded over time by innovations made by its pseudo-sequels, and we feel Bluepoint didn’t actually do enough to bring it to the point that the game is a 10/10 in 2020.
That said, with every extra hour I spend in Boletaria, my fondness for the game grows. Yes, the later installments of souls made better bosses, added convenience mechanics, and did away with obscure threads that players may be frustrated by. And all of that are great steps and improvements, but the fact that Demon’s Souls can be remastered 11 years after its launch and stand tall among its much-better-researched sequels is a testament to the unique, compelling and powerful world it created. There are but a fraction of the weapons and armor, yet I feel I have more to find, more to upgrade, more to try – whereas in Dark Souls 3 I had stopped caring about 50 weapons in. The areas are smaller, but I feel like I missed more secrets. The bosses don’t have phases, but I feel like my progress was more meaningful. Why? Because, in the end, the original recipe is the one made with love.