Game Reviews

A Faithful Remake | “Demon’s Souls” PlayStation 5 Remake 2020 Game Review

One of the selling points for the PlayStation 5 was one of the launch day game releases: the remake of the PS3’s Demon’s Souls. The debut game for FROM Software in 2009, they have since released numerous other ‘Soulsbourne’ games that have left their hefty mark on video game industry.

With Bluepoint Games taking the lead here, how did they do bearing such a hefty responsibility on their shoulders? Let’s assess the pros and cons, beginning with the former:

Pros

Combat and general gameplay are very loose, flexible and enjoyable

This game is a lot like Dark Souls 1, movement and combat wise. DS1 has a reputation for being rather clunky, but the new console happens to suit it quite well, operating at 60 frames-per-second and handling it a lot better than the PS3 or PS4 ever could. There is a nice variety of weapons, shields and armor that create countless combinations for the player and their peers to employ. This not only means player-versus-player encounters are scarcely ever the same as fights occur earlier, but that each lengthy playthrough of the game has a nice, unique feel to it, just like previously developed FROM Software games. Overall a very nice, loose feel to the game that give it wings.

The game is decently long and has plenty of replay value

Don’t expect this to be quite as lengthy as the Dark Souls games or Bloodborne, but compared to the average video game, Demon’s Souls is nice and beefy. Additionally, unlike its contemporaries, “New Game+” is truly a different experience from the base game, whereas it is only a mostly marginal shift in other FROM games. This means that the challenge level rises pretty significantly and begins to truly test the player’s mettle, giving incentive to actually embark upon the next journey.

Achievements and trophies earned are very reasonable, but not absurd, challenges

In the Dark Souls games, obtaining a Platinum trophy can get to be a bit silly at times. Bloodborne proves to be quite easy, while games like Dark Souls 1 could be a nightmare. In Demon’s Souls, however, the challenges are reasonable, but not easy to the point of being completely trivial. Many of them are also very “laundry list” in nature; go get this item, talk to this character, and probably beat up a few Demons or a Non-Playable Character along the way. Notably, Demon’s Souls hides quite a handful of trophies from boss fights, while other games FROM has developed mostly don’t do at all. This further serves to give the game a unique feel, furthering its niche on the video game market in the process.

This game really abuses the next-gen console.

Load times are practically non-existent on this game, which is one trademark feature the PS5 promised. Juxtaposed to the original game on the PS3, and it becomes truly shocking to see how far this console has elevated the limits of gaming. In the PS3 version of Demon’s Souls, a death of the character prompted a loading screen of at least a few minutes before the player could return to action, due to the game having to spend time loading the world and all of its enemies once again for the player to retry. Here, however, such a sequence lasts mere seconds, and the player can hop right back to it. 

Admittedly, Demon’s Souls had some flaws that stop it from being an S+ tier game. Let’s have a look:

Cons

Boss fights are horrifically balanced

Boss fights are either extremely easy, or can quite literally kill the player in a single hit. Old King Doran is the hardest fight in the game without a doubt. So why does he appear in the very first world and stage of the game, for new players to stumble right into? Alternatively, bosses like Storm King, Penetrator and Maiden Astrae appear towards the end of the game, and they are mostly jokes.

Moreover, many bosses in this game are quite easy for the seasoned Souls player to overcome, and aren’t that challenging even for newer players. Honestly, the trek to actually reach them proves to be harder and a bit more tedious. Reaching Old Hero, for instance, can be a bit annoying, but once you arrive, simply slapping on a single Thief’s Ring item can allow the player to win by mostly standing in one place and hacking and slashing him to death like a punching bag. Future Dark Souls games would progressively correct this issue and, as this is a faithful remake of the original, it predictably did not get corrected. Nevertheless, it remains one of the game’s crown shortcomings.

Digital Deluxe Edition customers got mostly screwed over

One thing not present in the original is the opportunity to pre-order Demon’s Souls. The $20 more expensive version grants the player two unique weapons, a couple sets of armor and various Hero and Warrior souls to start their character off with. The souls are nice, providing the player with some nice currency at the beginning of the game. But the weapons are extremely useless and the armor sets are nothing remarkable, serving as mere aesthetics compared to the competition. While it would’ve been a travesty to make the weapons or armor much stronger than what the non-DDE player could’ve accessed, they could’ve at least been genuinely competitive. In particular, the Reaper’s Scythe which is the face of the edition, was unfortunately a completely terrible weapon, boasting lower than average base damage and being unable to be upgraded like 95% of the weapons in the game.

Unfortunately, it is truly difficult to recommend actually purchasing the Digital Deluxe Edition of this game. It simply fails to offer enough value for your money.

This is a niche product that only select players will enjoy

No, this isn’t just because the original was nowhere near as popular as other Soulsbourne games. In fact, Demon’s Souls on the PS5 happens to be selling quite well, narrowly being outperformed by “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” by just a bit over six hundred units at the time of this article. This is because it is absolutely, definitely not for a casual gamer, nor one who particularly enjoys the storyline of their video game. The storyline of this game is quite confusing like in other FROM Software games, and the gameplay for an inexperienced Souls player is brutally challenging and unforgiving. If you intend to purchase this game, be warned that it will prove to be a relentlessly difficult experience that may overwhelm or tire you out if you attempt to play through it without a more experienced friend at your side. People who have never played a Souls game before are strongly recommended to play through Dark Souls III or Bloodborne, which are significantly easier and much more user friendly.

Overall grade: A-

A faithful remake of the original, Demon’s Souls for the PS5 is a fine game, ultimately worth its hefty $70 price tag for those whom it appeals to. Not really a game worth buying if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into, but a few simple YouTube videos and a review such as this should set that straight. Buy it and enjoy at your own risk.

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