You have to start at the door. In Demons Souls Remake there is a new door that, at the time of writing this review, is unknown how to open. It doesn’t matter what ends up behind it; the important thing is what it means: in front of it is where the famous sign “This is where the real Demons Souls begins” should be now. Almost as if we were talking about the concept of the mystery box by JJ Abrahms, it is not the answer, but the mysterywhat endures. It is this moment, in which thousands of players are going crazy trying to find the solution, pounding on walls, carrying objects, modifying tendencies, trying armor, making runs without death, with level one or without being hit … the one that captures in its essence what which is the Souls saga, but, above all, what was Demons Souls, because I think there is a difference.
And, regardless of which game you played first, there was something special about approaching Demons Souls a decade ago, even before the guides and wikis were too complete: feeling like a newbie who has to learn the rules of the game based on of mistakes, sticks … and deaths, of course. The new door means just that: feeling lost again. The fact that nobody, absolutely nobody, knows how to open it, is one of the most wonderful concepts in this saga; and Demons Souls, being the first, was the one that gave us the most these moments, since the accumulated experience made all the FromSoftware gameswho came after, even if we kept falling into their traps and being defeated before their bosses, it didn’t feel so completely “new”. Simply, the first time cannot be repeated: no matter how many other games arrive, my memory tells me that Demons Souls was the hardest and also with the most character; the one who taught me a way of making video games that I didn’t know. That which today we speak in terms of overcoming and perseverance, that feeling of being lost, of being about to leave, of feeling the fascination of meeting their characters without knowing if you were moving forward correctly, fearing every corner; This game gave it to me.
And that’s the paradox of this remake. You can replicate and improve everything; create an overwhelming atmosphere, a technical section of authentic luxury and make your experience in Boletaria seem almost new… Everything, except that spirit of the moment that was lived the first time, when an entire community had no idea how anything worked. That symbolizes the door. And, therefore, it is more important than ever to understand all the profiles that are going to approach this Remake: there will be those who arrive here after having passed and reviewed the original; those who have played other Souls, but not the original; and also those who debut in the saga, attracted like an enemy to the remains of the soul for being that game that kicks off the new generation on PlayStation 5. How to write for all of them? It is practically impossible.
It is more important than ever to understand all the player profiles that are going to approach this Remake
So I can only vindicate the act of understanding Demon’s Souls not for the present moment, but for its historical value. Because within its idiosyncrasy, its naivety and its “inexperience”, the game with the least complexes of all Soulsborne is hidden. Yes, the bosses are somewhat simpler than in the last works of From Software, and it is because, at the time, the “Souls phenomenon” did not exist; there was not a community of players demanding a greater intensity in the challenge. Demon’s Souls, having been a rarity that was not intended to become a cornerstone of the video game industry, allowed itself to make puzzle bosses: challenges not only focused on skill (as now), but on exhaustive exploration of the sceneand in taking advantage of a specific object, if you have tied the dots. This type of system, with a guide, makes it one of the easiest Souls in the entire saga; But without her, at the time, it was as difficult to kill many of them as to open the new bloody door. And that’s the spirit of Demon’s Souls.
Now a skilled player can finish the game in about 15 hours, especially if he chooses the path of magic; If you want an easy way, this is the closest you will find. But the game is still harsh and cruel for melee combat, especially of heavy classes. It seems as if the whole design of levels, enemies and bosses was raised to punish without regard for close-range combat. The narrow corridors, the deadly corners, the heavy attacks, those enemies capable of reducing your defense or ending your life with a stroke of the pen… playing melee is a ruthless pleasure. Even more so if it is the first time you do it or you have forgotten a lot about its intricate map.
Renewing a modern classic
I don’t know if ten years is too long or too short to create a remake. I do not feel qualified to answer certain questions. I prefer to focus on the final result, which is ironically wonderful, because one of the most technically poor games of the PlayStation 3 classics (with a brilliant visual design, yes), is now the flagship game of PlayStation 5 and one of the graphic references of the new generation.I suppose, from that angle, it was necessary. Touring this renovated Boletaria is an overwhelming experience. There have been few times in which the setting was so detailed that it was difficult for me to link it with my memories of the original. And it has merit: here a lighting kit has been used that gives the places a special atmosphere, and that creates unique environments, reflecting its light on each paving stone on the ground and even on the tip of your sword. And it is not only about recreating the beautiful pictures of the Boletaria Palace or the Altar of Storms, but also the most sinister areas such as the Valley of Corruption or the Latria Tower. We must talk about the Tower of Latria, because this is where we can best understand the aspirations that it can seek and achieve a good remake almost strictly visual like this one, beyond improving materials and creating new models.
Already from the Prison of Hope one can begin to notice that it has not only been worked the narrow spaces that we travel and the terrible enemies that we face. It is what was not seen in the original, what is impressive now. Every time you look at the sky or through one of the balconies, a more concordant scene begins to be drawn, following the trail that Miyazaki looked for in future works. Now you can get a better spatial image of where you are, turning Latria into a terrifyingly sinister version of Anor Londo, whose black towers and gigantic chains rise in the distance and invite the player to try to imagine what happened there. .
That’s what makes this remake great; He has not only dedicated himself to recreating every stone laid by FromSoftware and Japan Studio, but to continuing his vision that the setting should support and reinforce storytelling. A visit to the poisonous and pestilential swamp of world 5-2 turns the environment into something alive, into the filth pit that it is. Looking at its rugged and gigantic grottos and caverns in the distance, where the player cannot reach, one now glimpses the homes where the depraved dwell, illuminated by dim torches and connected by innumerable bridges and ropes. And if I influence these funds so much, it is because this is precisely where Bluepoint has had less reference material from the original work, which it has completed with its own artistic talent, showing that it is not only capable of replicating what already exists, but also adding some of its own harvest and, more difficult still, capturing the spirit of the study in which it is inspired.Rediscovering the “lore” of Demon’s Souls, the history of its knights, its magicians and its men of faith, is now more pleasant, being able to better imagine how they lived and how they suffered in places of authentic (and sinister) tale, which gave rise to to the fragmented narrative signed by Miyazaki.
They are not always right. Players’ love of the original artwork may make them like some changes and others not, such as the design of some enemies and NPCs. For example, a more western style has been favored in the latter, but looking at the art book that accompanies the Black Phantom Edition of the original, I would have preferred to use the artworks drawn here, and that I think they match better with the personality of each of the sane survivors of the dense fog, since in some cases, the faces seem somewhat generic. It is interesting that they have chosen not to follow the classic FromSoftware trail and animate these faces, in a quite expressive way, too.
The darkest point of the remake is probably the music, because the sound effects are of impeccable quality; the blows of the weapons, the effects of the spells vibrate on the television speakers (and some on the remote) creating perhaps not the best example of the DualSense that I have seen, but one that has great moments. But let’s get back to the music: the confrontations with the final bosses is where a Souls has always shone the most. His themes were not only powerful, but again reinforced the emotions that the studio wanted to provoke in the player. Two easy examples are the Phalanx theme (the game’s first enemy) and Astraea’s theme. The former must not accomplish many objectives, beyond showing a sense of danger and feeling besieged by a legion of enemies that seems to be multiplying. In the remake, however, choruses and epicity abound,faced with a combat that should not feel as if we are killing the final enemy of the game. It’s not a bad topic; it is simply too epic. Something similar happens with Astraea: the leitmotif of the original piece evokes in me a certain melancholy, accompanied by an almost unbearable tension, as if what was happening there was a terribly unfair act, but inevitable. This leitmotif is also in the remake, but instead of reinforcing this sad litany, it once again makes use of choruses and epicity that, instead of helping to feel the right emotion, sometimes transforms it.Therefore, it cannot be said that they are bad themes, at all, but if before I said in the visual design that Bluepoint has captured the spirit of the work, here I think otherwise. I think a selector that added the option to listen to the original music would have been ideal.
Demons Souls: Change without altering
I said before that this is an almost strictly visual Remake. And that “strictly” has a double meaning. On the one hand, Bluepoint has been very clever in respecting the pace of the work. Whenever possible, he modifies all the animations without increasing the times: this achieves, for example, that we have very spectacular attacks from the back, without being longer or shorter. Thus, any attack or defense animation can be changed, but the character and the enemies will take the same time to react; when attacking, defending, breaking a guard, rolling … The timing is the same.
But, on the other hand, there are things that do change. There are some secrets that liven up the game a bit for classic players, but other more important ones that improve the experience: shooting with the locked enemy is now omnidirectional, instead of the traditional 4 directions; but, above all, some changes in accessibility are welcome .When it comes to managing the menu, checking player and team information, as well as statistics … Everything is more comfortable. We even have the classic direct access to objects with the touchpad, for recurring items. Even so, I would say that Bluepoint has always thrown the conservative and preserving side of the original. The storage system may be somewhat cumbersome at the present time, and it was easy to make it more accessible, but changing it means avoiding desperate situations. There was a time, for example, when I had to quickly pick up an important item that couldn’t be shipped to the warehouse and that I couldn’t carry because my weight was limited. I had to deal with accessing the inventory in the middle of the fight and placing my Herculean ring, with all the tension that moment can cause, to pick it up. All these moments would be lost by the smallest change, in pursuit of the community. You can see that Bluepoint has debated well what could and could not be allowed to change; And overall, I think you’ve made the right decisions.
You can tell that Bluepoint has debated well what can and can’t change
Which brings us to an interesting point: the Fracture mode. The idea is good: in the statue at the beginning of the game, with the sufficient payment of souls, we can access some modifications. We can change the appearance and save character bases and, more interesting, access a mirror modethat flips the world horizontally with the intention that even the most experienced in the game has to orient themselves on occasion. And I think this access to alternative options would have been a good place to unleash the changes: modify for example the magic and strength stats; add secrets and new zones; alter patterns and behaviors. Anything that in the original was susceptible to being controversial, I think it would have been welcome as an alternative.
What I think everyone will appreciate, though, is the photo mode. It is noteworthy beyond the fact that it is more and more a standard, because it adds the pause function to a game that did not have it, but without much cheating option, since you cannot access the inventory, for example. It is true that at times, that invisible orb where the camera swarms, with its ability to modify the height and zoom, is more revealing than the spyglass of the game; and at certain times, such as when we have to descend the well of the Tunnel City, it allows us to advance on our steps and prevent some danger behind a corner. It is, in fact, far more useful than the system card help of PS5, with somewhat basic hints and tips; which is logical, since explaining some of the secrets of Demon’s Souls is very complex for a slight description and a video.
Demons Souls: “It’s time to die”
At the top of The Nexus, above the arch stones and before going up to the monumental, there was a message in my game that said “It is time to die.” It was not a phrase honoring the fact that souls die a lot. After all, El Nexo is a safe place. I was in that place because it is the ideal place to commit suicide. I will not explain more of this to avoid spoilers, beyond that it has to do with the Trends of the game, but it is a good example of how obtuse it turned out and turns out to be Demon’s Souls if you want to follow a certain order in your game. Even with a guide you have to be careful in performing some actions. And is that the online modeand the Trends system was at the time an idea that even ten years later seems brilliant to me, but difficult to execute, because in the long run it can turn out to be somewhat tedious. That is why I understand that it only exists in this way in Demons Souls and in the future it will opt for systems of pacts and similar forms.
In fact, it is in multiplayer where the Trends system has been softened the most, since it was impossible to play online for the player who wanted to follow a route plan and achieve certain states in each archstone, which forced in many games to play offline. Now, the actions of other players and ours in the online mode do not affect the trend of the world, allowing you to play connected without fear of affecting your plans. Here Bluepoint has followed in the wake of FromSoftware itself, creating a similar system, with passwords to better understand friends. But, again, these certain imbalances between some classes mean that in the world of PvP there are many players with similar characteristics.
That is why you have to go into detail to notice these changes. There have even been options in the camera system, to create some dynamics that allow you to follow the player rotating the camera automatically instead of manually (something that can help in the most extreme escapes), but surely what does not go unnoticed are the 60 frames per second in its performance mode. It is the default option that Bluepoint includes and, without a doubt, helps your actions and the stimuli you receive to be executed better. Playing Demons Souls, accustomed to a framerate of doubtful stability, is the ideal scenario; even more so considering that I have hardly found differences with the Loyalty mode.
What I have found, and this may vary, but in my game it has been something frequent, they are bugs. I’ve suffered a bit of everything: a crash in El Nexo and a crash more suffered in the middle of a final boss. Also some moments when the frame rate has suffered drops or some sporadic slowdown and even a New Game in which I had to restart the console to get it to go smoothly again. All of them were more sporadic, but one was more recurrent: causing my character to get stuck, unable to move correctly for a few seconds.
All in all, Demons Souls remains a special game. Going back to a low-control-point system can freak out a new player or player used to the “comfortable” bonfires, lanterns or altars of the more recent works. But there is something iconic about those long distance races towards the bosses too. What I mean is that it is not a worse game because it is more obtuse or somewhat archaic in some of its mechanics. That such an unrefined development was capable of creating all the phenomenon that we have a decade later is worthy of praise. This visual remake is proof that the game sustains its playable core, something that many other titles with more renown and fame of yesteryear cannot say the same. It is a work made to be enjoyed, studied and preserved.Its new technological splendor is welcome, because it prevents the experienced gamer from fast-forwarding. How to do it when you just want to stop to look around you, to try to absorb every detail put into it? The graphics also do not camouflage its shiny skeleton. When you get used to them (and it costs), you still have a work that feels magical under the packaging. It’s like those dragon bones that Scirvir the Wanderer describes: not only are they majestic, but they exude ore – the stuff of which masterpieces are made in Demons Souls.