Who better than Bluepoint to tackle one of the medium’s most sought-after remakes? Given the studio’s stellar track record, it was hard not to immediately expect greatness from its next big project. Despite those sky-high expectations, Demon’s Souls manages to not only be an extraordinary technical showcase and a remarkable demonstration of master-class environmental design, but it also delivers a deliciously dismal good time.
Unlike the other big-budget remakes that came out earlier in the year, Demon’s Souls faithfully adheres to its source material as more of an authentic recreation than a total reimagining, but it’s all the better for it. Its iconic difficulty, peerless personality, and engaging environments all remain intact and are better than ever courtesy of some tactful improvements.
Chief among this remake’s enhancements is the visual facelift – the game’s graphical overhaul is so good that it ushers Demon’s Souls into the conversation for the best-looking games ever made. The beautiful balance it strikes between fidelity and fluidity will make it one of the greatest showcases of the PS5’s power for years to come.
That’s not to say that Demon’s Souls is style over substance, as it retains the original’s punishing but purposeful action RPG gameplay loop. Each trip through the realm’s languid locales provides you with more souls and goodies to bolster your current character’s build, but it’s the knowledge and experience you’ll amass with exploration and experimentation that prove most beneficial. There’s no substitute for your first trip through a Souls game, and this remake gives that rare opportunity to Dark Souls fans and series newcomers alike.
Some smaller improvements serve to further chisel what was a rough-cut PS3 gem into a beautifully faceted current-gen diamond. Omnidirectional movement and extremely-welcome inventory improvements smooth over the friction that’d come from picking up the original now that the Souls series has since progressed, and coy additions like further fleshed out side-quests and new shortcuts only enhance an already excellent game while giving a little wink to fans in the process.
All of this comes alongside an atmosphere that is second to none in video games. Every area in Demon’s Souls oozes an oppressive energy amid its abandoned landscapes that drip with unspoken history. Each one of the game's varied locations is breathed into life by soundscapes that are startlingly good. Whether it’s a scream echoing in the distance or a rhythmic rumbling coming from an abyss below – the smallest of auditory details goes such a long way in giving every scene a tangible sense of presence that’ll stick with you long after experiencing it that first time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a game that sounds as good as this does.
Demon’s Souls is ultimately a tremendous triumph for a studio that’s at the height of its craft. Bluepoint had the unenviable task of refreshing one of the PS3’s defining classics, and it managed to delicately straddle the line between faithful recreation and inventive reinterpretation splendidly. What it’s graced us with is a Demon’s Souls that will continue to stand the test of time while also providing the PS5 with a killer app that accentuates the new console’s dominant debut. FromSoftware must be proud.
For more information, you can read our Demon's Souls review through the link.
Did you overcome Demon’s Souls’ steep challenge? Did you defeat Old King Allant yet? Does it deserve to be on our Game of the Year list? Bring more Demon’s Souls in the comments section below.
How we decide our Game of the Year: This December, our editorial team created a list of nominees for Game of the Year based on our own review scores and a variety of other factors. After much discussion, we trimmed the list of nominees down and asked all Push Square staff and the Push Square community to vote on their five favourites using a points-based system. The ten games with the most points by the designated deadline were then determined as our favourites of 2020.