Here I was spending all this time wondering when we will see more from Elden Ring, and then BOOM! Bluepoint comes in and satiates souls’ lovers with a Demon’s Souls Remake for the PlayStation 5. Now, I can finally conquer the one soul’s game I haven’t completed and in its best form ever! Somehow Bluepoint managed to make the least good-looking souls game, into one of the best looking…
Let’s start there! What gets me the most about Demon’s Souls Remake is the lighting. Passageways only lit with torches add to the dread ever-present in souls games. There’s always surprise traps and hidden enemies ready to chunk away at your HP, but now there’s areas with low-light that will make your hands even more sweaty. Then graphical updates freaked me out especially seeing the Dregling (undead looking creatures) have detailed faces and how much more grotesque the Giant Man Centipede or Plague Baby creatures looked. For a game that doesn’t lean into its dark and gothic setting as much as Bloodborne does, there are still many levels in this game that freaked me the hell out. This is thanks to all of the added textures, graphical updates, and superb lighting.
I’m so grateful they added a photo mode so that I can take in all of the gorgeous sceneries as I overlook a tower to see a bright red dragon and his fiery breath in the distance of Boletarian Gate, or gaze at a moon being swarmed by gargoyles in Upper Latria. Actually, I was really grateful for photo mode because it gave me the option to press pause! Something that only Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice actually implemented. This is of course, as long as I was offline or in soul form where I couldn’t be invaded by a player looking for some PVP action.
I even used the damn mode to peak over corners. Clever or Cheesy? Bluepoint also included some quality-of-life changes (aside from photo mode spam), such as allowing items that exceed your inventory load to go automatically in storage, as well as more inventory slots in your menu, the ability to warp between places without always having to go back to the Nexus, and being able to see your weapon durability.
To supplement the amazing visuals is a truly amazing sound design. I didn’t have anything fancy on like the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset for the PS5, yet my auditory senses were constantly activated with eerie sounds. This is most notable in The Prison of Hope where you hear a woman singing and a man begging for help in the distance, on top of groaning Dregling, or the chime sounds from Mind Flayer’s. Then the closer you got to the singing or begging NPC’s, the louder they became. Then when I got to the deepest depths and experienced my first Giant Man Centipede, I heard the cries of a man, a creature, a demon, and a baby all at the same time. It’s both amazing and creepy.
It’s no surprise that Souls games have some of the best enemy and boss designs in video games period, and Demon’s Souls is no different. There are badass armored skeletons, Cthulhu-looking magic users, creatures that look like they’re straight out of the Resident Evil series, a giant wad of leeches, big colorful dragons, gargoyles that look like Ryuk form Death Note, enflamed humanoid demon’s and so much more.
As cool as these creatures look, I hadn’t realized how easy this game is in comparison to the other Souls games. The game is overall shorter, enemy AI aren’t as smart, bosses are mostly push overs that can be exploited with cheesy methods, and magic is more over-powered than ever. Part of this is because at this point, I’m a seasoned souls player, and part of this is because many bosses were easily exploited. It felt as though the challenge in this game was more your strategy instead of reflexes.
What makes this game slightly more challenging than other souls games is the lack of mid-level checkpoints (bonfires), which gives less opportunity for resting, leveling up, and being closer to a boss. If you die, you need to complete the entire level over. There are still several shortcuts available and the levels are overall shorter, but there’s a lot more to go through to get to the area boss. This brings me to the level design of this game. As I think back on how this game initially released in 2009, it blows my mind how ahead of its time Demon’s Souls was in terms of level design. Part of this is the amount of relief you feel from discovering a shortcut and the rest is how each level has its own aesthetic visually and gameplay wise.
There are five worlds available at whichever order you wish, and each of these worlds contains 3 to 4 levels. Each world is distinct and the enemies in each area will have unique abilities and weaknesses, so you can’t just get away with using just one weapon or one tactic (although you’ll probably be okay with magic either way). For example, I generally used a battle axe but for The Smithing Grounds I had to switch to a Crescent Falchion because my axe was barely putting a dent, despite the battle axe being more leveled up.
You really need to pay attention to your stats to get the correct weapon scaling, exploit enemy weaknesses, and bring the correct items to get through. The cool thing about this level design is if you don’t feel ready for one area, you can just go back to it later and try another. In fact, your character may be more suited to approach certain area’s more than another person’s character depending on their starting class and character build.
I loved how in the Valley of Defilement, I descended down narrow paths and landed in a huge open lake of poison water. When I proceeded through that level toward one of the bosses, I ended up in a claustrophobic encampment littered with Depraved One’s that camouflaged with the dark green environment. This small area had many layers to fall down on and climb up, and there were many hidden nooks filled with hidden enemies ready to stab away at you.
As you descend deeper, you fall into a pool of blood and nasty babies that inflict plague to rapidly decrease your health. This is just a description of one world. Each world had their own aesthetic: The Tower of Latria is dark and creepy, with ghosts, iron maiden’s, magic users, prisons, ominous church’s, a bright moon, gargoyles, and grotesque looking creatures. The Stonefang Tunnel is a bright yellow city filled with miners, tunnels, and lava (think Goron Mountain but scary).
The Shrine of Storms is filled with armored skeletons, stormy skies, flying stingray’s, and reapers. The The Boletarian Palace is a kingdom filled with dragons, volatile soldiers, knights, bridges, and towers. The one element to this game that felt really perplexing is the world and character tendency, which is more of a criticism of the original game that From Software eventually did away with in Dark Souls (thank goodness).
It’s a whole thing where you can’t die in human form in any of the worlds if you want pure white world tendency, or you can die multiple times in human form if you want pure black world tendency. Then there’s character tendency which can turn pure white or pure black depending on how many black phantoms you kill, how many people who help in co-op, or how many times you invade, or kill invaders.
Both character tendency and world tendency impact how difficult the enemies are, how many black phantoms show up, what areas within a level you have access too, and loot drops. Both tendencies are manipulated differently and I would honestly recommend you hit up the Demon’s Souls Wiki or Fextralife if you want more information on that because it’s confusing! This was especially vexing from a completionist standpoint as I’m going for the platinum, but you might be able to get away with beating the game without having to worry about tendency too much. You may lose out on important loot, but I would imagine you’ll still be able to beat the game with minimal issues. All to say, Bluepoint needed to keep this in the game to stay loyal to the original game, but I still don’t like it.
The combat overall feels more responsive, which is reflective of how Bluepoint cleaned this game up and implementing the Dual-Sense feedback for when you block or hit. I always loved the methodical combat requiring patience, trial and error. Although, I did feel Demon’s Souls in comparison to Dark Souls felt more like a game of strategy than of good combat reflexes.
The methodical combat style of souls games can leave you feeling rewarded for slaying each and every enemy or boss you face. Yet, somehow the dual-sense feedback and sound design add a bit more satisfaction. While this style of game is not for everyone, if you’re really curious about the game and worried about the difficulty, this is a good start. There is an easy mode. It’s called over-leveling via farming, playing a magic class (which is really fun and damn the spells look good), and you can even summon people to help you for some jolly cooperation!
Demon’s Souls remake is just another example of how well Bluepoint is with remaking games. You can add this to their arsenal on top of the other remakes like Shadow of The Collosus and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. It makes me worried for the visual and performance fidelity of future From Software games like Elden Ring and how spoiled Bluepoint has made us with this new and improved souls experience. They really put heart into this game. 4.5/5 Bibles.