In 2011 the world was introduced to a plague – a plague of dying over and over with little to no avail. That’s how it works right? I’m not just trash at this game? This obsession of my every nightmare and the total embodiment of “practice makes perfect” is, of course, Dark Souls.
And now, seven years, two sequels and a spin-off later Dark Souls: Remastered is here to once again annoy all of us but also to lead us into the most incredible sense of achievement. As far as Remasters/Remakes go, I’ve always been a little skeptical. The original Resident Evil had a decent remaster a few years back, the Bioshock series got given a fresh coat of paint but it wasn’t too much of a difference and frankly any other remaster that comes to mind never struck true for me and they all seemed like an easy cash-grab. That was where my interest in Dark Souls: Remastered started, having skipped out on the original back in 2011 and only having played a solid few hours of Dark Souls 2 during a drinking game with my friends a couple of years ago I thought it may be time to get my die on.
As a pre-face to what comes next I want to say that prior to starting the game I had absolutely no knowledge of what to do, where to go or even… what I was getting myself in for. God, did I throw myself in at the deep end. Venturing forward into many – and I mean many – deaths, I found myself getting more and more invested in a world I may not understand but one that I wanted to get to know as much as I could in the time I had. This world is immensely intriguing, horrifying of course, but intriguing nonetheless. It’s so wrought with adventure and discovery that with over 40 hours game time so far, I know there’s so much more for me to find and then brutally kill with an oversized axe.
Obviously when a remaster comes around most people are interested in the buff in graphics and frame-rate and since I had no frame of reference to go off I was lucky enough that my roommate had the original installed on his PC. After watching me load a few hours into the remaster he revisited the original and for purely research based reasons I sat and watched as the frame-rate lagged and the magic effects confused my dear old roommate. So that being said I can confirm 100% that the upgrade to the visuals with Dark Souls: Remastered is worth every penny. Where the original is clunky, the remaster is smooth.
Gameplay wise I’m not sure I’ve had such a strong and unwavering addiction to a game in a long time. The way this game grabbed me reminded me of how The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did. In similar ways, both games gave me an experience that subconsciously forced me to find everything I possibly could and knock down every hidden wall. It’s infuriating, which everyone would come to expect from a Dark Souls game even if they’ve never played one. Dying with a ludicrous amount of Souls in your back pocket is one of the feelings that has left me with my head in my hands, refusing to speak to anyone for a good hour. Personally I have only put one hole in my bedroom wall but I can imagine that may happen a couple more times as I replay the game.
Getting used to replaying the same area over and over again stops becoming tedious and becomes rewarding quicker than I thought it would. There’s a real feeling of being a badass when you’ve mastered an area, figured out where you can get the most souls and know every enemy movement and how to kill them all without having to take a swig from your Estus Flask (basically a health potion).
Incredibly, Dark Souls isn’t the game I thought it would be. I imagined an unforgiving, ridiculously hard grind of a game that I would hate after a few hours but instead I found it’s actually an unforgiving, ridiculously hard grind of a game that I love to sit and plow hours into at a time.
If I had any complaint it’s that the multiplayer aspect of the game – i.e being able to summon others into your world to help you, or on the other side of the coin, someone invading your world simply to kill you – is one of the most out of place features. To put it without a lot of expletives, it was annoying as all hell when I made it to the entrance of a boss fight only for someone douche to invade and murder me inches from victory.
It’s not a perfect game by any measure, it has it’s glitches and has issues that come up every now and then. But it can be overlooked for such a joyous and exciting milestone in gaming to be rediscovered by a new group of gamers who are ready to take on the task.
Over-sized monsters, skeletal wretches, disturbing imagery and gruesome deaths are all in abundance here and even if you don’t think you’d enjoy it. I can almost guarantee you will. Dark Souls: Remastered may be one of the few remasters that’s worth the money. So what are you waiting for? Go! Get the game and load some hours in! Oh and one last thing… Prepare to die!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.