Review | Demon’s Souls Remake – Bluepoint is certainly no stranger to game world. After many HD collections they have made Shadow of the Colossus again for the PS4. A remake as a remaster in its purest form, we have to say, because in terms of content they hardly adjusted anything to the game, apart from the audiovisual improvement of the title. Now Bluepoint has taken over Demon’s Souls for the PS5. Demon’s Souls is where the entire Soulsborne genre was born, the foundation and the beginning of the vision from Hidetaka Miyazaki. Nowadays, the genre can no longer be ignored and FromSoftware cannot get enough of the success. But let’s go all the way back to the beginning and see how the Demon’s Souls remake fits in with the other FromSoftware titles today.
Here we go again!
The well-known ritual is allowed to start, like in any other Soulsborne game. Before you jump in the deep end, you can cobbled together a character via the character creation screen. You may also choose your class here, which will lay the foundation for your build. Think of strength, dexterity, magic or a faith build as different options for the various types of weapons you will encounter in the game. This is the first thing that has been overhauled by Bluepoint, because the character creation in the PS3 version of Demon’s Souls was to cry. This time it is a lot more realistic in terms of style, but still quite limited in options. My favorite character creator is still Bloodborne’s, because it really allowed a lot and that is a missed opportunity for Demon’s Souls, after all it could have done the same.
Anyway, otherwise no world disaster, after all you have all kinds of helmets on your head. Because you will need it in the kingdom of Boletaria, the country where you as a new hero will rise to do something against the shadowy atmosphere. King Allant is a power-hungry character who has mastered the Souls Arts, but craving even more power, he has also awakened the Old One, which had previously been put to a deep sleep by humanity. Not without reason, because Allant has disappeared without a trace after the awakening of the Old One and the kingdom of Boletaria has been taken over by demonic scum. You will have to put a stop to this and it is a good reason to hunt all kinds of demons. This is a very superficial approach to the story, just to spoil nothing. Digging out the story is also part of the game’s experience, as this is done through conversations with NPCs and item descriptions. It’s homework, but fun.
The game starts with an intro level where you can learn the basics of the gameplay. Doomed to fail, you end up in the Nexus. This is your safe home and also a hub to access the different levels. It is comparable to the Hunter’s Dream hub, if you are familiar with Bloodborne. Demon’s Souls does not have a single open world, but several defined areas, within which you can explore. And this is what you want, not only to defy the bosses and find things, but also to admire the surroundings themselves. Obviously it is a big difference with the PS3 version, but it also sheds a glimpse into what the PlayStation 5 has as a console. Demon’s Souls shows beautiful views and the environments make great use of different lighting effects.
When you are in somewhat dark environments, where, for example, torches nicely accentuate the stone structures or when rainy weather gives a wet and therefore shiny tone to the environment, places in full daylight are a less beautiful spectacle of light effects. Because Bluepoint wanted to preserve or recreate the original level (and game) design, you can notice the old level design in some places. A few spots are just a little less impressive, but this seems more like a case where Bluepoint had to make do with whatever belts they had. Now it sounds like you’re really getting an inconsistent graphical presentation, but that’s definitely not the case. In general, you have a graphically strong game that is in line with next-gen expectations.
Nevertheless, I miss the addition of, for example, ray tracing (or even extra assets) to fill in the duller places. I secretly expected this from one of the two modes that the game has to offer. For example, you have the option to play the game in quality mode in 4K, but then the frame rate is capped at 30fps. While the implementation of the light is just phenomenal, ray tracing might just have been an extra boost. The default mode is the performance mode that runs at a 1440p resolution with a nearly locked 60 fps. The graphical difference between the two modes is therefore minimal, so the preference is of course the performance mode. At a busy moment, the frame rate dropped well below 60 fps, but this was the only time we encountered this. But this is so minimal, that Demon’s Souls has an excellent performance mode in that respect. As a result, the quality mode without ray tracing or other additions actually feels superfluous.
Still a game from 2009
Animations add to the beautiful graphics. Especially the execution animations are very nicely worked out, but also some enemies can look amazing. The physics in Demon’s Souls are remarkably good. If you break or smash barrels, crates or other type of decor, they will fall apart into many parts very realistically. Even if you kill an enemy, just when they are about to deliver a blow, their sword will fly away during the momentum it was moving. Yet the impressive animations also have a downside and you can see the age of the core mechanics. The gameplay is simply outdated in some areas. Think of healing that involves standing still, fighting is a bit clunky and stunlocks also occur in this game if you are not paying attention. NPCs got new facial animations,
Actually quite a shame, because Bluepoint has made a number of ‘quality of life’ adjustments in the game. For example, you can send items directly to a storage box, without having to return to the Nexus. The addition of omni-directional rolling is very nice and being able to teleport directly between environments without the intervention of the Nexus again is also very nice. These kinds of fantastic adjustments also create a contrast with things that have not undergone major development in it. Think of the AI in the game or expanding move sets at bosses. Fans of the genre are now seasoned players and they have some experience, so Demon’s Souls will not offer too much resistance in the boss fights, partly due to the limited movesets that you quickly grasp. That being said,
Bluepoint has done more to this game. The old radical gameplay mechanic called World Tendency is back. Based on your actions and choices, you can go from a neutral position to the Pure White or to the Pure Black status of the world. Each area has its own Tendency individually, and depending on the status, you get a different experience in the levels. For example, if you defeat a boss you will tend to White, but if you die in Human form or slaughter NPCs, you will tend to Black. White Tendency makes the game a bit easier but less likely to get good items, while Black Tendency provides stronger enemies with better rewards.
The PVP is of course also present again and actually a great way to get to the Black Tendency faster. Unfortunately, I can say very little about PVP, because I simply never got invented during my playthrough and struggled to get someone into my world for help with boss fights, for example. After all, I had to deal with Americans while reviewing and looking at the latency between the servers, this is not very surprising. The principle has remained the same as what you know from the other Soulsborne games. In Human form, other players can enter your world and take you down, while in Soul form you can make life miserable for other people. By the way, another small addition to the Souls form, your health is shortened a lot in this shape,
We also have to pay attention to the sound of the game, because that is actually taken care of down to the last detail. Every beat or punch has a distinct sound. The use of magic in this game is simply more fun and cooler than ever to see, just like to hear and that has been given an extra emphasis via the DualSense. Furthermore, the soundtrack has been thoroughly overhauled and rearranged, but that puts me a bit in doubt. Not every song has been converted equally well to a more modern version, whereas other songs have become very cool. Still, I cannot ignore the fact that some of the older Demon’s Souls songs had a bit more character. That is also something that applies to the user interface, because the old one is in line with what you know from the Soulsborne games, while it now has a sleek style. It’s some antfucking and to keep going on that, the game could use some polishing here and there. Because with multiple crashes and some crazy glitches, this remake just doesn’t come close to an absolute top mark.
However, no matter how you turn it, we can only say that the game has only managed to offer us entertainment. It is not the best Soulsborne game ever when it comes to the gameplay mechanics, but the foundation that has been laid for the later parts can be found in this. If that base hadn’t been that strong, the parts after it wouldn’t have been nearly as strong either. Although Demon’s Souls was of course the first, the remake is now almost a kind of ‘best of Soulsborne’ game in retrospect. You see so many elements from the other parts come back in this and that in a pure way, so it cannot be denied that it is a special game. Both for newcomers and veterans.
Demon’s Souls Remake – Conclusion
Demon’s Souls shows the basics of the Soulsborne genre. Bluepoint has converted the old game into a modern presentation while retaining the soul of the title. The ‘quality of life’ improvements have been successful, but the core mechanics have remained unchanged. The game therefore feels in some areas as a step back from the newer Soulsborne games, but that does not mean that you are dealing with an excellent game. Graphically it is beautiful, the audio is great, the performance is good and the content will please both old friends and newcomers enough. Here and there some changes are just a bit too much and the game has some minor flaws, but that does not mean that Bluepoint can add another topper to the portfolio.
Pros of Demon’s Souls Remake
- Graphic slick
- Sound design is great
- Animations are very beautiful
- Magic effects look amazing
- Mechanics show Miyazaki’s vision
- Quality of life adjustments
- Great for newcomers and veterans
Negatives of Demon’s Souls Remake
- Gameplay is a bit outdated
- AI very limited
- Beauty flaws
- Facial animations