We don't need to remind you that Dark Souls is an excellent game, so we're not going to sit here and reel off everything you already know about it. We're just going to cut right to the chase and give you the information you're looking for.
Blight Town is no longer, er, blighted by poor framerate issues. The whole experience now runs at a super smooth 60 frames-per-second no matter what gets thrown at you (both literally and metaphorically). In our 30 or so hours with the remaster, we didn't notice a single drop, though we should note that we're playing on a PS4 Pro.
So technically, this is an incredibly competent port, but what about the rest of it? Well, we still had a copy of Dark Souls on PS3, so could compare the two and can safely say that the remaster does look a lot sharper. Textures that were previously fuzzy are now razor sharp, there's nary a jaggie in sight, and the not-quite-4K resolution is very impressive on a 4K TV.
The most notable improvement, though, is in the lighting and effects. Crush a soul and the ensuing effect is so gorgeous that we took a moment to appreciate it every time we got the opportunity. The same goes for flickering torches, sunlight cascading through the clouds, and the flame, water, and lightning that monsters regularly squirt at you.
Character models are also improved – particularly in the wardrobe department. It's clear that every piece of armour has been retouched, and the same can be said for the weapons. Everything just looks an awful lot sharper, and you'll notice details you couldn't make out in the original as a result.
At this point you'll notice that we haven't thrown much praise at the environments and general world, and that's because it's not quite so drastic an improvement. Now this could be a deliberate decision on the developer's part. Dark Souls is a very well-loved game, and the developers could have prioritised ensuring it remained the same experience while improving in the areas that wouldn't raise as much ire.
If that's the case, it's very much a job well done. Those who played Dark Souls back in the day will feel at home with the murky visuals of Darkroot Basin, and the near pitch black eeriness of Blight Town. But it's a decision that will polarise the player base. There are many that joined the Souls bandwagon with Dark Souls III or Bloodborne, and will find the drop in visual fidelity a bit jarring, disappointing, and perhaps even off-putting.
There's also a general jankiness that you just don't see in the more recent iterations. For example, we've been killed through walls on several occasions, and we've fallen off platforms that we were nowhere near the edge of. Sure, Dark Souls is designed to be a punishing and difficult experience, but even the best of players will feel a bit of frustration when a death just wasn't their fault.
So your relationship with Dark Souls Remastered really does hinge on your relationship with the original. If you loved it back in the day and can't wait to dive back in, you'll be in heaven. The remaster does an absolutely brilliant job of feeling exactly like the original, while stealth-fixing a bunch of the problems – most notably Blight Town and its framerate.
However, if you joined the Souls bandwagon with Dark Souls III or Bloodborne, your reaction may not be so favourable. While the original is still an absolutely excellent adventure, and perhaps even still the finest Souls in terms of design and pacing, it does have a jankiness to it that that has since been ironed out. It's also a lot less forgiving than the later entries, which can lead to frustration.
Ultimately, we recommend it – it's Dark Souls. Just be aware of what you're getting yourself in for, which entirely depends on your experience with the original.
Dark Souls Remastered is an excellent remaster of a standout entry in the Souls franchise. Those who played the original will feel right at home, and will really appreciate the visual and technical improvements – particularly to Blight Town, which now runs at a butter smooth 60 frames-per-second. However, those that weren't there at the beginning may not appreciate the inferior visuals and general jankiness that later entries have all but ironed out.