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PLATFORMS: PlayStation 5
RELEASE DATE: November 12th, 2020
ESRB: M for Mature
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Demon's Souls, the game that started the "Git Gud" trend and spawned a whole new breed of gamers, has finally gotten its much anticipated remake. Demon's Souls has an interesting history; it was a game that was made by FromSoftware, a developer that was considered mediocre at the time and was largely known for the Armored Core series. However, after Demon's Souls was released on February 5, 2009, the game gathered a cult following. Then Dark Souls released in 2011 and became hugely popular and started spawning sequels and another spiritual successor, Bloodborne.
Bloodborne was a massive success among Souls fans, and FromSoftware became one of the most highly regarded world class studios thanks to their director Miyazaki, the man who was responsible for directing Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls III, Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. After so many success, the modern era Soulsborne fans started requesting a Demon's Souls remake, since it was the game that most people never got a chance to play and experience.
Fast forward to July 12, 2020, when the PlayStation 5 hardware and games were officially revealed to the world, fans finally got the confirmation of the Demon's Souls remake's existence after years of rumors, hype, and speculation. The game then was later confirmed as a PlayStation 5 launch title for November 12, 2020, and is now on the market. Bluepoint had big shoes to fill with the Demon's Souls remake.
Bluepoint has stressed many times that their toughest job would be remaking the game from the ground up while keeping the gameplay and feel as close as possible to the original. After spending many hours with the game, it is safe to say the company has done an outstanding job. The game feels and plays much better than the original, but most importantly, it manages to not only feel fresh and exciting to re-experience but also familiar, just how the fans remember it.
The enemy AI is as dumb as ever, but that is how the AI was in the original game. If Bluepoint created a brand new AI then the game would not feel like a remake, but rather a reboot, which is not what fans wanted. Enemies were never too smart to begin with, but sometimes they would be hard to predict and their attack patterns were not always consistent. The gameplay was always about playing a tip-toe dance with foes and the player had to wait for the right moment to charge and strike; there is plenty of that here.
A lot of the old strategies work on the bosses in the remake. Everything from the mobs' placement, bosses' attacks and phases, items, and illusory walls (secret walls that can be discovered by hitting them with the character's weapon) are exactly the same, which is critical when it comes to remaking a beloved title. A half-moon crescent will restore exactly the same amount of HP as it did in the original game. If fans have a good memory of their favorite items, then they will know where to go to find them. The game still features the same worlds. While many were hoping they would be able to go to the broken archstone that was confirmed as cut content by FromSoftware in the 2009 classic, Bluepoint stressed it did not want to add any new areas and wanted to stay true to Miyazaki's original vision.
There are, however, some new additions as well, but most of them can be found in the character creator. The character creator is far more advanced and allows for much more customization. Fans can now customize every part of their character's face individually, such as mouth, ears, eyes, jaw, nose, brow, face, facial hair, hair, skin, and even decals. Each of these categories also have presets the individual may choose, and if they do not like it, they may also use the sliders and adjust them to their liking. While the character creator does not change the gameplay in any shape or form, it was still a nice touch by Bluepoint to give fans some extra assets to play with before they start their epic journey in the world of Demon's Souls. There are some astounding designs out there and it's easy to lose an hour or two customizing an adventurer.
This is where the Demon's Souls remake shines the most. The game uses a heavily modified Shadow of the Colossus remake engine. Shadow of the Colossus was the last Bluepoint release for the PlayStation 4 and it was highly praised. Bluepoint decided to take an already successful and scale-able engine and work some magic on it to use it for the PS5 Demon's Souls remake.
The magic casting was successful, because the game is an absolute stunner. Seeing a beloved classic recreated from the ground up to run at silky smooth framerates with new visuals definitely feels like a new-generation experience. Demon's Souls remake is the type of game fans can show off to their families and friends and show what the PlayStation 5 is capable of doing at the start of the generation. The bosses' old designs are still similar and look exactly how their old counterparts did, but 1,000 times better.
Everything from the shadows, lighting, new animations, and high resolution image quality and clarity makes the world of Demon's Souls much more alive and visually appealing. The Souls games always had a great art direction; Bloodborne in particular had some of the best world class art anyone has seen, but the engine itself was not that great and had many issues, such as bad frame-pacing. FromSoftware, while a fantastic developer when it comes to gameplay, universe, and art direction, engines always felt a bit clunky and poorly optimized. Meanwhile, Bluepoint is the opposite of that and knows how to create great engines that feel and run smooth.
The game offers two different modes: "Cinematic" and "Performance." The "Cinematic" mode runs the game at 4K native and locked 30FPS. While it looks better than "Performance" mode, the framerate loss and gain of the resolution is not worth it. The game feels way better when played at 60fps. The "Performance" mode has the title running at 1440p native that can scale up to 4K but stays locked at 60 frames at all times. The "Performance" mode far outweighs the "Cinematic' mode, because playing at a consistent 60 frames provides a much better, cleaner, and enjoyable experience. Majority of fans are used to playing Souls games at 30 frames, but once they experience what it's like to play at 60 frames they will never want to go back.
Overall, Demon's Souls remake's strongest quality is its visuals. Sometimes, the players will just want to turn on their PlayStation 5 and run around Boleterian Palace because this dark world looks stunning and fun to explore. If this is what the next-generation systems can offer as first-generation titles then it's scary to think what other developers, such as Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Playground Games, and The Coalition will come up with in the near future.
As far as the audio goes in the Demon's Souls remake, it has the same memorable sound effects that players will instantly recognize, but better quality. However, the addition of new animations when it comes to killing enemies and watching their souls go into the player-character's body is extremely satisfying, especially when coupled with the sound effect produced after their death.
The official soundtrack, however, is remixed and sounds a bit different than the original. While the new soundtrack is familiar, some fans may or may not like how the new music compares to the original mix. This is something subjective and will vary from person to person and is all up to the individual to decide which version of the soundtrack they prefer. Overall, it's still similar and memorable, but remixed for the modern era.
Bluepoint has definitely delivered when it comes to satisfying fans around the world on recreating their favorite game from the ground up. Not only has the Demon's Souls remake delivered in what it promised, it has also set a brand new standard on what the definition of "remake" means for the future of gaming. Bluepoint was always the studio that had a strong portfolio. Every time it releases a new title, it always raises the bar. It will be interesting to see what is next for Bluepoint.
As far as Demon's Souls itself goes, while this game may not appeal to every type of a gamer out there, it's definitely one that must be experienced regardless, if someone has the PlayStation 5. It is the closest title that can be identified as a first real taste of a new-generation experience. While many may argue that it's just a remake of an old game from 2009, the point is it gives a promising glimpse into the future of what PlayStation exclusive titles will offer going forward. Recreating a game is not always easy, especially one that, for the most part, cannot be touched or modified in any shape or form when it comes to gameplay. Even a game like Final Fantasy VII Remake has proven that, behind the right team and with good direction, the game's legacy would never be tainted if done right.
Demon's Souls is now officially the new standard when it comes to game remakes. If any developer or publisher is interested in recreating a magical experience on a new generation of hardware, whether it be on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, then they need to look no further than Demon's Souls. As far as fans of the game go, they will be happy with how the final product has turned out. Do not sleep on Demon's Souls, whether a fan or brand new individual who is looking to get into the Soulsborne experience. Stop reading this review and buy this amazing game.