Cause for Concern – Dark Souls Remastered

Praise the Sun?

It should be noted that a remaster doesn’t indicate that a game will be completely updated.  Most of the time it’s a visual facelift in the hopes to draw in new players to a franchise.  The issue with this train of thought is that the primary reason for a sequel is to improve on the flaws of the original.  Which is why the Dark Souls remaster is kind of a concerning.

Dark Souls 3 is easily the best in the franchise.  It’s faster, but not as fast as Bloodborne, the boss fights are generally solid throughout and overall, it was a vast improvement over the slightly disappointing Dark Souls 2.  I used to stay away from hardcore games, mostly because I don’t want to break my controller, but the Dark Souls series is generally fair in regards to its difficulty regardless of how cheap some deaths may feel.  The original Dark Souls is great, but deeply flawed, it featured awful hitboxes and was overall clunky in its feel.  But this was by design because its challenge was unlike every other game on the market.  It was a decidedly old school game, in which the players hand isn’t being held at every turn and that it was all about trial and error.  Dark Souls made the hardcore genre popular amongst all gamers and helped revitalize the genre.

When the remaster was announced, count me amongst those who were extremely excited as I was under the assumption that the gameplay would be updated and be similar to Dark Souls 3.  Unfortunately, it looks as if the remaster will be an upgrade in visuals only as it will run in 4K at 60 FPS.  While the upgraded visuals are greatly appreciated, as Dark Souls was never a pretty game, various gameplay videos have shown that nothing else has changed, which feels like a missed opportunity.  This remaster, like practically all remasters, was more than likely meant to draw in newer players to the Dark Souls franchise and while that isn’t necessarily a negative, it would’ve made for a more interesting experience if they had new additions.

Here is the real issue regarding the Dark Souls remaster:  because of the lack of narrative connectivity amongst the Dark Souls franchise, as the story is pieced together through information found in items or equipment, you don’t need to experience the original when Dark Souls 3 is the best that the series has to offer.  There is almost no incentive to pay nearly full price for a 7 year old game that lacks any new features for new or older players.  It just doesn’t make sense as a buy.  There are those Dark Souls fans who have played the hell out of the original game to the point where they memorized enemy patterns and placement.  There just isn’t enough challenge or content and this is coming from someone who has played every game in the series dating back to its spiritual predecessor Demon Souls.   I love the series as beating any of these games feels like an accomplishment worthy of bragging about.

Generally, I support remasters, I feel that there are certain games that are more than worthy of a re-release.  Those that aren’t updated for today’s generation usually fail when connecting with a new audience because the gameplay that worked upon initial release could be considered dated now.  Dark Souls unfortunately, falls into the latter category, if gameplay was more in line with Dark Souls 3, then this would’ve been a day one buy.   As it stands right now, this looks like it’ll be better off as a rental in the instance I get a rush of nostalgia.

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