Was there ever a more undercover revolution of game design as Dark Souls? As with a bunch of “firsts” in this forgetful industry, this entry from From Software certainly didn’t invent what we now see as the “Dark Souls formula”. They just perfected it. On paper then, Dark Souls Remastered should be a slam dunk. Like re-releasing the Mona Lisa, no one will mind if the age is showing.
Excepppptttt this isn’t the Mona Lisa of the From catalog. Not even close, and that makes this here a re-release didn’t need to exist. It could have needed to release, but with this half-step, From Software didn’t do anything more than drop the worst of a legendary series onto modern consoles with its worst blemishes intact (minus one).
I’ll get it out of the way now, Blight Town runs fine. The namesake to end all namesakes that drug framerates into cement now runs as smoothly as the rest of the areas. Sprinting through poisonous remains might be an unusual celebratory environment, but it really does feel worthy of a Praise the Sun, amen.
The rest of the changes that have come to Dark Souls Remastered though feel like small sparks. Multiplayer feels the biggest bump up to 6 people at once, which is a near impossibility I’ve found on Switch. I’ve seen it done but I believe that the servers – possibly due to the Nintendo Online drama – just don’t have the bodies anymore. Which is fine for me as a solo-Souls-er more times than not. It doesn’t paint the additional features in too great a light though.
And it’s not as though the game can’t stand on its own merit. Never, ever mistake the impact that Dark Souls has had. This is a game that crested a wave large enough to see stamina bars into several mainstream titles and arguably restart the survival game genre. This is a game I loved and inhaled through both nostrils, but seeing the changes made to Scholar of the First Sin – a virtual remake of Dark Souls 2 – I know what From Software can do.
Inside Lordran itself, the most you can look forward to is an added bonfire or two and some reshuffled items. The bonfire that now runs by Vamos is certainly noteworthy as he’s now an actual factor in playthroughs, and Dried Fingers now move to a more accessible location to trigger those 6-player brawls. Again, these are aspects that do enhance the experience but not to the level of a brand-new release nor a celebrated remake.
A lot of criticism I’ve seen these past months has revolved around Dark Souls Remastered still including the Bed of Chaos as well as the preceding area. I’ve never had as much of a problem as everyone else with this area, and to me, that would’ve been above and beyond, not so much expected. No, if I’m measuring by Scholar’s standards, then I wish From Software had appropriated a much more devious addition to some choice areas.
That addition? The goddess Velka. She already holds a prominent role (in a not-so-prominent system) inside the lore, including the instated fear of her sinful nature. I would’ve loved her to break free of her background role and become the Scholar, slithering into new bonfires and encounters that returning players had to look forward to. Dark Souls Remastered could have countered the Bed of Chaos’ negativity with the inclusion of a visually striking boss that played by more traditional rules.
Even in 4K (that the Switch doesn’t have), Dark Souls Remastered looks flat and blurry. The standard HD of docked mode for the Switch version looks exactly like you’ll remember it from the Xbox 360. Handheld mode drops it to Wii graphics, but the point is that this game appears just plain aged in all senses. The Mona Lisa’s older sister, Ramona, is great if you see her cracks and yellow canvas but after seeing her 4-5 times, she does start to lose some luster.
Even while standing as the echo of a masterpiece that launched a thousand copycats, Dark Souls Remastered doesn’t quite live up to its own bill. I’m not going to sit here and crow that I had no fun with crossed arms but what additions came to the product didn’t hit close enough to the heart of the world to really tickle me giddy either. From Software has some undoubtedly magical ideas that never found their way into this amazing series that just would’ve gone great here. Use what you got, gurl!
Dark Souls Remastered Score: