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'Dark Souls Remaster' review: Die in glorious detail

Death comes for you at 60fps in this remastered classic

Love it or hate it, the Dark Souls series is one of the most unique and visceral gaming experiences out there today. Some may call it masochistic and make religious warding signs every time they see it, but those who have had a taste of the darkness of Souls games always want more. No matter how many times the game punishes players by hurling them off a cliff, with a well-placed enemy or one of their towering bosses, one cannot help but come back. So much so it has spawned off a niche of ‘Souls’ games like Bloodborne, Nioh and the upcoming Code Vein. All this, kick-started by a game called Demon’s Souls, followed by Dark Souls, that gets a brand-new remastered treatment, so that you can go right to the source of where the ‘Souls’ craze begins.

Dark Souls: Remastered
  • Developer: From Software
  • Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
  • Price: ₹2,499 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; ₹1,199 on Steam; Coming soon on Nintendo Switch

What is it about?

The Dark Souls series has always been lauded for its inventive and unconventional storytelling experiences. Every one of these games throws you into a mysterious fantasy world, with just a smidgen of lore that does not make any sense whatsoever. While you’re dying all over the place, the game never hand-holds you through boring storytelling, if you don’t want to. However, for those intrepid explorers, a massive treat awaits, as the game encourages you to observe, connect the dots, find story snippets lying around. Thread by thread, it weaves itself into a beautiful tapestry, telling a deep story with very interesting characters, all left to you to interpret.

'Dark Souls Remaster' review: Die in glorious detail

You play a character that you can create from a bunch of presets and classes, who finds himself in a dark world. An undead entity doomed to roam the lands, each death stripping him of his humanity further and further into a wraith. Even though you resurrect, you have to constantly quest to preserve what vestiges of humanity you have left, as you rush to reignite the Age of Fire once more.

No game captures you as much as Dark Souls, as you keep exploring on and on, deep into this world of true despair. It is that feeling of existential dread that keeps you going on. Chalk that up to the superb gameplay.

How does it play?

At its core, Dark Souls is an action role-playing game, that’s a lethal combination of a deep sword play and dodge, parry system and completely devilish level design. Along with its secret sauce, which is death. Expect to die hundreds of times, because that is the core mechanic on which this game is built upon. Killing monsters of all kinds gives you a currency called Souls, which you spend on upgrading yourself or buying items. If you die, your souls remain on the spot of your death for you to double back and collect them again. If you die en route, you lose everything.

This risk reward system is the whole and soul of this game, and while it does sound dark and dreary, it’s actually the most fun element. The elation you feel when you narrowly escape that death is like a drug that keeps on giving. This game is so unbelievably unforgiving that it plays some sort of reverse psychology joo joo on you, making you want to conquer that level. Where in an RPG, when you level up, you get better, in Dark Souls you level up your skills with the game. No matter how high your level is, even the lowest minion can kill you with a few well-placed hits. The level design is treacherous, tricking the careless adventurer into plunging to his death.

'Dark Souls Remaster' review: Die in glorious detail

The bosses though are truly scary, instilling complete and utter fear in you. All of them are truly creepy, crawling straight out of your worst horror movies. There is a secret escape-it-all though in Souls games, which is the evade roll, which just adds that level of agility to the game that makes you feel like a proper swashbuckling knight. Add to that some magic and some quick thinking on your part, you can overcome any of these bosses. That endorphin hit you get will make you shout in glee. Good luck trying to explain what just happened to your flatmates though.

The original Dark Souls was a beautiful game, but a complete mess on PC. The remaster just makes everything so much better, running at a smooth 60 frames per second, even in the dreaded blight town. If you own a good PC, PlayStation Pro or Xbox One X, the game can scale up to 4k. With improved graphics, texture quality and lighting, worthy for today’s gamers.

Should you get it?

If it is challenge ye seek, oh adventurer, then look no further than Dark Souls, to set you off on ye merry way. Those warriors on the go, may want to wait till the Switch version launches to take this masterpiece on the subway with you. Whether you are a returning player or a newbie, you cannot afford to miss out on Dark Souls: Remastered.

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The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel
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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 6:02:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/return-to-the-dark/article24077884.ece

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