Demon’s Souls: The First Subsequent Technology Recreation is a crooked however spectacular showcase
The next generation of games is here with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X – unless it isn't, as there are almost no next generation games to play on. Demon’s Souls is the first title that can truly be described as next-gen, and it shows – even though it's a remake of a PS3 game … it shows too.
The original Demon & # 39; s Souls was an incredibly influential game. The sequel, Dark Souls, was more popular and improved quite a bit over the first, but much of what the now big series did well was already established. "Souls-like" has practically become a genre now, although the originals are not surprisingly the nonpareil.
The few who played Demon & # 39; s Souls were delighted to hear that it was being remade by Bluepoint (who also remade the legendary Shadow of the Colossus), but feared the game wasn't by modern standards could withstand.
Can an old game, the essence of which is a decade behind its descendants, get a really, really, really ridiculously good-looking paint job and still function as the next-gen blockbuster debut? Well it has to somehow – there is no other option! Fortunately, the game really holds up and makes for a harrowing cinematic experience despite some significant creaking.
I don't want to give a complete overview of the game itself. Suffice it to say that while the core of the game, while it looks and runs much better, remains almost unchanged. Any review from the past decade is still completely pertinent, right down to "magic is overwhelmed" and "inventory stress is annoying".
As a next generation gaming experience, Demon & # 39; s Souls is not yet comparable. It not only serves as a showcase for the PS5's graphical capabilities, but also for the sound design, feel, speed and operating system.
First the graphics. It's clear that Sony and Bluepoint thought of this as a really elaborate remake, and the game's structure – essentially five long, mostly linear levels – provides an excellent platform for stunning graphics that are carefully tailored to the user experience.
The environments themselves are incredibly detailed and the various enemies you are fighting are very well recognized, but what has always struck me was the lighting. Realistic lighting has proven difficult even for top developers, and it's only now that the hardware has enough headroom to run it properly.
Demon's Souls doesn't use ray tracing, the computationally intensive lighting technology that is always about to be implemented, but the real-time lighting effects are still dramatic and extremely appealing. This is a dark, dark world, and the player is very limited in terms of personal light sources, which means that the way you experience the environment has been carefully designed.
While the detailed armor, props, and monsters are all very nice, it's the realistic lighting that really sets them off in a way that seems really new and beautiful. The dynamic range is used properly to dramatically illuminate actually dark areas, such as the still-terrifying tower of Latria.
The game isn't a huge leap over the best the PC has to offer right now, but I love it for game designers who really want to use light and shadow as gameplay elements.
(BTW, don't bother with the "Movie" versus "Performance" option. The latter keeps the game silky smooth, which is a luxury for Souls games, and the other setting didn't improve the look much, if at all Framerate will be hit badly, skip it unless you're doing glamor shots.)
Similarly, the sound in the game turned out very well, although I'm careful when it comes to hyping Sony's “3D audio” – really, games have had this kind of thing for years on many platforms. Decent headphones are the most important thing. But maybe the PS5 offers improved workflows for the spatiality of sound. In any case, it was very good in Demon & # 39; s Souls, with great separation, location and clarity. I dodged an enemy off-screen attack reliably after recognizing the characteristic grunts of an attacking enemy, and the screeching and roaring of dragons and boss monsters (as well as the general milieu of Latria) was appropriately terrifying.
This could be combined well with the improved feel of the DualSense controller, which seemed to have a different “feel” for each event. A dragon flies overhead, a demon stomps on the ground, a blocked attack, a ride in the elevator. Most of the time these were good and only helped with the immersion, but some, like the elevators, felt more like an annoying buzz than a rumble to me, like holding a power tool. I hope developers are sensible about these things and identify irritating vibration patterns. Fortunately, the intensity can be set universally in the controls of the PS5.
Likewise, the adaptive triggers were nice, but not groundbreaking. Using the bow helped to know when the arrow was ready to be released, but other than a few things like that, it wasn't used to great advantage.
Something that had a more immediate impact on my game was the incredibly fast loading times. The Souls series has always been plagued by long load times while traveling and dying that you can expect to go a long way. But now it's rare that I can count to three before materializing around the campfire again.
This greatly reduces the frustration in this unforgiving game (but now far from eliminating it) and actually makes me play it differently. Where previously I didn't have the bother of briefly traveling to another area or the hub to do a small job, I now know that I can return to the Nexus, play around with my load a bit, and be back in Boletaria in 30 seconds can. If I die, I'll be back in action in five seconds instead of 20, and believe me, that adds up very quickly. (Load times are improved across the board in PS4 games that also run on the PS5.)
The new, fancy pause screen that Sony has implemented on its new console contributes to this. When you press the (annoyingly PS-shaped) PS button, a series of “cards” will be displayed showing recent achievements and screenshots, but also ongoing missions or game progress. The menu paused in Latria to take a breath and offered the opportunity to immediately withdraw to one of the other worlds, lose my soul but skip the normally required nexus stop. This is sure to change the way speed runs are performed, and provides a useful, if somewhat immersion-breaking, option for the absent-minded player.
The pause menu also provides a place for tips and hints in text and video form. Again, this is a fun game to debut this in (not counting Astro & # 39; s Playroom, the included game / tech demo which is fun but minor) as one of the special features of the Souls Series of player generated notes and ghosts are alternatively you can warn and deceive new players. In another game, I might have relied more on the PS5's hints, but they seem a little redundant for this particular title.
Arguably the only "real" PS5 launch title, Demon & # 39; s Souls is a curious but formidable creature. It definitely shows that the new console is beneficial in some ways, but the game itself (although still amazing) is out of date in many ways, which limits the possibilities of what can be shown at all.
Sure, the remake is the best (and for many the only) way to play a classic, and it's recommended for that alone – although the $ 70 price tag (more in Europe and elsewhere) is definitely a bit of a squinter. One would hope that for the new higher price tag we can expect both the next generation gameplay and the next generation details. Well now we have to take what we can get.