Published on December 1st, 2020 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Demon’s Souls (PS5)
Where it all began, the birth of the Souls series, Demon’s Souls is back in a full blown remake for the Playstation 5. How does it differ to the Ps3 original and is it worth your time checking out?
Concept/Story: The story of Demon’s Souls is a bit of a convoluted one, there is basically a fog that has engulfed the land, killing all in it’s path, apart from a few select who have been turned into demons. It’s kind of unclear what the real motivation of your character is, however you go through several lands killing bosses and collecting their souls. There is lore to be found via item descriptions etc but you’re probably better off reading online to find out what the hell is going on by huge fans of the series.
Concept wise this was the birth of difficulty first, reward later gameplay. The soul series are known for being punishing yet fair and although you may fail numerous times, defeating a boss is all the more rewarding. Think old school NES games that were brutally difficult but once you got into learning patterns and what worked best on bosses, you get the hang of it and progression becomes less of a chore and more about playing smart.
Graphics: When thinking about this current generation of PS5 and Xbox series X, not one game besides Demon’s Souls has absolutely wowed me. This is the game you show to friends to show off the power of your new fancy console.
The whole game has been visually remade from the ground up and it is absolutely stunning. The environments are ridiculously detailed with gorgeous texture work lining the floors, architecture and areas as a whole. You’ll battle through old gothic castle ruins, mining caves and some nasty swamp areas, all with their own distinct look. The lighting work is phenomenal and with some of the best use of HDR I have seen, especially in dark hallways lit by torches. You might have guessed I am at a loss for words and that is because every single spec of the visuals is top notch.
The enemies themselves are so detailed and well designed that they are hideous and disgusting, the way demons and monsters should look. You’ll see them covered in warts, blood, most likely shit, wounds and some times even impressive armour. Speaking of armour and weapons there is some amazing designs for your player and what do you know, they are also detailed to the brim.
There is both a cinematic and performance mode to choose from with the Cinematic mode being in 30fps with a 4K image vs the performance mode running at 60fps which still looks fantastic and is the option I would recommend to all players.
Gameplay: Difficult…that is all.
But seriously this game is incredibly hard if you’ve never played any of the Souls series games and even if you have, it’s still no walk in the park. Thankfully with the use of some summoning stones you can have up to two online companions to help you tackle a level and take on a boss that has been murdering you repeatedly to the point you almost wanted shove a broadsword through your skull (damn you Penetrator).
Killing enemies grants you souls which you can use to upgrade your stats, weapons, buy items and spells. Once you die however those souls are left in the level at the point you died. You have one attempt to go back and claim those souls, but if you die again they are gone forever. You may choose to live dangerously and not spend anything and ramp up the souls in one big hit or chicken out and spend them as soon as possible so you don’t regret the loss of 100k+ souls.
There are no checkpoints in essence as you will always start at the beginning of a level, however you can open up shortcuts to get back to the boss quicker, did i also mention though all the enemies respawn when you die. Also when you die you lose your human form which takes off about 50% of your health, so dying actually makes the game harder. There are also certain aspects of the game that can also ramp up the difficulty like killing merchants, not protecting certain ‘good’ npcs etc. This game does not want to make anything easy or a breeze for you and there is absolutely no easy mode.
The team stayed true to the original game and did not make any drastic changes to the combat. You still dodge roll, block with shields and try wander around an enemy for a tasty backstab. Weapons all have their own unique animations with different timings which can result in leaving you vulnerable to enemy attacks, but also dealing out massive damage as a trade off. Different character classes also provide different stats to focus on and will have people playing around to find which style suits them best as well as which armour and weapon combo they prefer.
Bosses are a big focus of the game and are sooooo overly powered so make sure you’re dodging and patiently watching their attacks to know when the correct time to strike is. Some bosses are almost like a mini puzzle and you need to figure out what it takes to be able to damage them as sometimes your standard weapon won’t work.
Sound: Music is used sparingly in Demon’s Souls and only really comes into play when battling a boss and that’s when the full orchestral score plays. These orchestral pieces are dramatic/epic and make for an audible cue of ‘you’re about to probably get your ass kicked’. They also get the blood flowing and amp you up to hopefully not die and triumphantly slay the demon.
During the course of a level before a boss fight, ambient sound is used to create a sense of foreboding and emptiness. This leaves room to hear the screams of enemies that you slay and also the horrifying sounds that some enemies make such as the man-centipede which produces the sound of nightmares. You’ll hear insects buzzing, the wind whirling, water shushing and everything else that fits the environment. It’s all masterfully done and with a great set of headphones you’re in for an audible treat.
Awesomeness: Replayability is a big part of Demon’s Souls as new game plus ramps up the difficulty but also retains all your weapons and unlockables. If you’re going for the platinum trophy you’re probably looking at 3 playthroughs. Mastering the levels and enemy placements is one thing but having enemies tougher then before helps to stop you from just blitzing through the game again, keeping it fresh and still hard as nails (thanks Ignis for that last line)
Another cool feature is to go help people take on levels they may be struggling with which is also a rewarding experience in and of itself.
One thing I forgot to mention is you can be an asshole and invade players game, acting as an enemy yourself and stopping all their hard earned progress, but damn is it satisfying when you defeat an invader, especially if you accidentally push them off a ledge resulting in them losing a level.
Final Word: The team at Blue Point games really know how to lovingly create remakes of huge hit titles and this is no exception. The team stuck to what fans wanted and didn’t give in to the pressure of adding an easy difficulty (which to me makes no sense because they’d make more money by doing so) and brought Boletaria to HD 4K next gen all the fancy word glory.
Now I will say this game is not for everyone and if you’ve never played a game in the series maybe watch a little playthrough of a newbie or try get some hands on because it’s not for everyone, but for those who stick with it, you’ll be deeply satisfied when you manage to overcome the onslaught that is Demon’s Souls.
Out of 5 Bugs!