Review | Demon’s Souls (PS5)
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. Being able to fondly look back on the past is something that can carry you through darker times. Fortunately, there’s something even better than regular nostalgia: modernized nostalgia! And that’s exactly what developers Bluepoint Games and SIE Japan Studio have achieved with their newly released Demon’s Souls remake.
Originally a PS3 title that released in 2009, Demon’s Souls was the incredibly influential game that begat the “Souls” genre. Games such as Nioh, Code Vein, Mortal Shell, and a slew of others have sold well and performed well commercially, but it is the original developer FromSoftware that started and seemingly perfected the genre. Dark Souls was arguably an all around improvement from Demon’s Souls. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is their latest masterpiece in the genre, giving it a ninja spin. Finally, the upcoming Elden Ring is hoping to further cement the developer’s legendary status. Saying that the original Demon’s Souls is important is an understatement, especially given the games that have come out since its original release.
But what is Demon’s Souls? In short, it is a tough-as-nails action roleplaying game. At the start, players have the option of choosing a class that will guide them towards a certain playstyle. These classes include the knight, magician, barbarian, thief, hunter, soldier, wanderer, temple knight, royalty, and priest. Storywise, you’re given the task to put an end to a curse that has overtaken the kingdom of Boletaria. Throughout the game, various enemies will aggressively attack you, forcing you to always be on your toes and ready for a fight. At the end of each sub-area, a unique boss will test your strength and mental fortitude. If you defeat the boss, your reward will be the titular “Demon’s Soul”. In turn, these can be (unwisely) consumed, or be used to gain a powerful weapon or spell.
What really makes Demon’s Souls unique though, is what happens when the player dies. Shortcuts and item inventory will carry over, but you’ll lose your “souls” (in-game currency), sending you back to the beginning of the area. This was incredibly shocking about a decade ago, but is a standard mechanic within the genre now. Other factors such as “World Tendency” shape out by player actions and deaths. For those playing on their own, it will just be a matter of their own actions. Those playing online however, it’s more of an accumulation of the online community.
Speaking of the online functionality, it makes a glorious return in the remake. The original game’s online mechanics were pretty unique, and they remain functionally the same now. The asynchronous multiplayer format that Demon’s Souls utilizes allows other players to summon, join, invade, or even leave messages for other players. All of these aspects (with the exception of invasions) can be immensely helpful for new players. Messages especially help to give warnings of dangers ahead or other helpful hints.
But do all these individual pieces fit together?
Frankly, yes. The Demon’s Souls remake is flat out incredible. It improves on all aspects of the original, and it’s not just the graphics that get an upgrade. Character and enemy animations, the camera, and all of the game’s audio are all fantastic improvements. Player movement also feels vastly better and more fluid than the original. The loading times are also phenomenal, utilizing the speed of the new SSD storage. Of course, this is more of a factor due to the hardware rather than the software, but it’s still worth mentioning. Whether fast traveling to or from The Nexus hub or dying, getting back into the game within a few seconds is a revelation.
The only negative aspect of gameplay I found was the item burden statistic. In general, I find limiting the things you can carry around in games to be annoying. This is slightly countered by attaching the item burden trait to your vitality level, but it’s still a nuisance. And the $69.99 price point is also frustrating, given that many other new games are still at the $59.99 mark. I suppose it just comes across as being squeezed even more as a consumer.
Despite everything, when all is said and done, Demon’s Souls is darn near perfect. For those who missed out on the PS3 title that started it all and those who waited the entire PS4 generation for a remaster, now is the time to enjoy. So gear up, watch out for the danger that lurks around most corners, and “git gud” if you want to make it to the final credits.
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10