A brand new video game generation is upon us! As people around the world start to get their PS5 consoles in hand, the excitement of new hardware finally comes to fruition. Amazing new experiences await those picking up their new consoles. Remarkably though, the most impressive PS5 launch title isn’t a new game at all. 2009’s Demon’s Souls has been remastered (although it’s far more than that) for the PlayStation 5, and wow, what a sight to behold. It still has the usual Souls divisiveness, but Demon’s Souls on PS5 is a true showcase title you’ll want to check out.
The core of Demon’s Souls remains pretty much unchanged. It is still challenging and unforgiving, maddening yet rewarding. The game’s vague, sometimes confusing rules and online are still here. However, unlike in 2009, modern players will be accustomed to this thanks to the Dark Souls/Bloodborne series. It’s the same game you remember and something completely different entirely. It’s music is redone, voice acting re-recorded, the game’s visuals have been given a massive boost, loading is mind-blowingly fast, and yet it all feels strangely familiar.
Demon’s Souls sees one of the masters of remasters, Bluepoint Games, take on a beloved modern classic. It’s not a remaster so much as a full-on remake from the ground up, the same way the recent Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 games are more remakes than remasters. That said, the fundamentals remain precisely the same, for better or worse, and the experience is quite the sight to behold. The visuals are just wow, and I don’t just mean in comparison to the 2009 game on PS3. It’s a genuinely beautiful game and showcases the power under the hood of the PS5. That said, Demon’s Souls is a very dark game (both tonally and, well, literally), so expect to see really high quality environments in very dark places.
Another major selling point of Demon’s Souls is the use of the PS5’s SSD. In short, loading times are much faster and fast travel FINALLY means FAST traveling. In fact, most fast travel was near instantaneous, and loading times were extremely short. This is important in a game where you die A LOT. Dying and then respawning back in nearly instantly keeps you hooked into the game. Add this to Demon’s Souls use of the DualSense controller and 3D audio and you’ve got a game that is coming out swinging from the start. The DualSense controller conveys the swing of your weapon and the bang of your weapon off an enemy shield. It’s sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face, but it’s an amazing addition to the game. It actually feels like you’re swinging your weapon into the enemy’s shield, right in the palm of your hand. 3D audio is also quite impressive as the clang of weapons is more realistic than ever before. It’s also more frightening than ever before. 3D audio lets you hear enemies further away, and worse, it lets you hear that enemy you’re encountering is totally right behind you now. It’s exciting and horrifying all mixed in one.
My main problem with Demon’s Souls is that while it’s a great remake of a classic game, it manages to feel a little old and outdated. Bluepoint made it their point to really make the game feel like it did in 2009, which is good. However, later Dark Souls and Bloodborne games improved upon the movement and combat. They took what Demon’s Souls did and improved it. This makes Demon’s Souls feel like a mixture of odd, old, new and clumsy. It takes a bit of time to remember how Demon’s Souls played and how it doesn’t play. This is by no means a deal-breaker, but I was surprised at how bad I was at Demon’s Souls’ simpler mechanics compared to Dark Souls. Just know going into the game that you’re going back to basics here.
So, is Demon’s Souls a must buy game for new PS5 owners? Absolutely, if you like the Souls games. If you didn’t like Dark Souls or Bloodborne, you will not like Demon’s Souls. If you loved Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and you’re willing to retrain your brain’s Souls-mechanic instinct, then Demon’s Souls is totally worth the purchase. Demon’s Souls showcases the best parts of the PlayStation 5 hardware and is a true showstopper. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go play some more Demon’s Souls.
Developers: FromSoftware (original game), Bluepoint Games and SIE Japan Studio (2020 remake)
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment, Atlus USA, Namco Bandai (original game), Sony Interactive Entertainment (2020 remake)
Release Date: 12th November 2020 (North America), 19th November 2020 (Worldwide)