'Demon's Souls' on PS5 Feels Like an Authentic Next-Gen Souls Experience

I've run across this same bridge a dozen times now, and know the layout by heart. I don't know if I'll be able to beat the boss that's at the end of this bridge, but first, I need to get there. Run forward before the dragon swoops in, head down the stairs to the right, and fight the surprisingly deadly wolves hiding in the pathway underneath. Then, start sprinting again, brushing past the debris and corpses, and keep to the right, all while staying one step ahead of the fire breathing dragon who's right behind you. That's when it happens: a spare arrow clips me, briefly stunning me in place—but long enough for the dragon fire to destroy me. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5dpgmb/demons-souls-on-ps5-feels-like-an-authentic-next-gen-souls-experience

I really wish major voices in the games criticism space wouldn’t legitimize Bluepoint’s creatively bankrupt projects. These games are dishonest and shallow, revealing the underlying contradiction gamer-nerds have within ourselves. Worshiping the nostalgic past, but only as long as it can now “hold up” to modern standards.

It’s a shame that there are so many basic points people overlook when talking about these remakes.

  1. The original should be faithfully PORTED before any remake is even considered. Not a remaster or “definitive edition,” just a simple port that preserves the original artist’s work, warts and all.

  2. Not much time has passed, it’s kind of sad we’re remaking games that are 10-15 years old and being impressed by that. It’d be one thing if Bluepoint were remaking SNES or earlier games, but these are very recent and it feels more like a slap in the face to the original devs than homage.

  3. Speaking of slap in the face, it’s really off-putting to to have not only a completely different team redo someone else’s work, but even more so for an american team to redo the work of Japanese developers. And as an aside, even if I had no issues with these sorts of remakes, Bluepoint’s work has always seemed off to me. Not only do they smooth over the originals, but they add so much unnecessary detail that either distracts from the original aesthetic, if not completely missing the point. In Shadow of the Colossus for PS2, the sky always seemed sad, but beautiful. In the PS4 remake, they just made the sky seem more menacing than anything else, so far off the mark. Demon’s Souls seems even worse in this regard, taking the utilitarian castle of the original and turning it into an overly ornate showpiece that looks more like Dark Souls 3 than DeS.

  4. At the VERY least, Sony and Bluepoint could have given these remakes different titles/subtitles to communicate that this is a completely different version of the game. A good example of this would be Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. It’s based on FFXII, specifically the International Zodiac Job System version, but to signify that this is a new way to experience a classic, Square-Enix gave the game it’s own unique title. This is very helpful in reinforcing that FFXII: The Zodiac Age isn’t a replacement for XII, just a different version. Of course, Sony and Bluepoint aren’t interested in genuinely respecting the originals, so they just take the original title and pretend that their game IS the exact same game as the original, “just as you REMEMBERED it.” Personally, I don’t remember DeS looking like Dragon Age meets Diablo.

I won’t go so far as to say that Bluepoint and Sony are committing art erasure, but they might as well be. I’m so tired of the counter argument “well, if you don’t like the remake, why don’t you just leave us alone and play the originals?” They then promptly turn around and proclaim how wonderful it is that the classics are being remade for an entirely new generation that can’t experience them in their original state. That the whole point, we can’t play the original versions unless we have the hardware or emulate, and most people don’t have the hardware and can’t (or are afraid to) emulate.

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There’s also something deeply depressing about a new generation of consoles being launched with a guady remake of a sleeper hit from two generations ago that only got its due once Dark Souls had broken through.

DeS is a classic BECAUSE of its warts. It’s the roughest of the Souls games and now it’s somehow the default entry point for people? Bizarre.

Would have much preferred a Dark Souls:Remastered style re-release over this thing. They managed to make Demon’s Souls look as uniformly generic as Boletaria 1-1 appeared to be on first blush, but without the dawning realisation of how sad and fucked-up From’s interpretation of western fantasy really was.

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god this entire game really feels like sony wanted a bloodborne sequel at launch but couldn’t pay fromsoft enough to actually make one, lol.

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I dont really have much to add that hasnt been said very well by the posts in this thread already (and Dia Lacina’s twitter feed) but I really think its time for games to separate technological advancement and quality. Thats it really. Something can be old and still have intentionality and merit and thats worth preserving.

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Game looks great, feels great, and honestly it’s insane that I even got to play it. Shout out to my roommate for letting me have a taste. Some of the changes are a bit odd but I honestly will just overwrite the old ones in my head eventually after getting used to it.

Bingo! It’s about the original developer’s work, not how well it holds up to “modern technological expectations.”

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Another point I forgot.

  1. Remakes should mean re-imagining, and not just on an audio/visual level. The recent Resident Evil remakes are a pretty good example of this. They have the same basic concept, setting, characters, but then they take those and fundamentally re-image them. RE remakes have new scenarios, new game design loops, new storytelling methods, etc. Those remakes are much more valuable in my eyes, especially if the original games they’re based off are well preserved (which Capcom has a so-so record of). Bluepoint, on the other hand, wants their remakes to be this strange middle ground between a re-interpretation and a faithful remaster, and it’s just creatively bankrupt and unnecessary. Their work is vanity from the start, it’s only made to fuel the gamer’s hype of “wow, look at those GRFX!” A good remake should feel like John Carpenter’s The Thing, Bluepoint’s work feels more like the Psycho remake from the 90’s.

And you know what’s really funny? Bluepoint’s remakes won’t “hold up” in 10-15 years either. Gamers of the future will dunk on these games becasue they don’t have 300 fps, they don’t have 16k resolution, they don’t have RayTracing 3.0, they don’t have 11.7 surround sound, they feel stiff, the models aren’t animated like real human beings, etc. Basically, even the one aspect these games seem to “excel” at, their technological prowess, is pointless. Gamers will want a remake of the remake of the remake, the gamer hunger for cutting edge tech (and the subsequent crunch it entails) will never end if we continue to value tech over artistic merit.

The last thing I’ll say is: how could anyone with a critical mind in the gaming space not only be okay with Sony and Bluepoint’s efforts, but be excited for them? Sony and Bluepoint consistently fail all 5 basic points on how and why to revisiting a work, and they seem to believe they’re actually being respectful. It’s sad they’ve seemed to convince many gamers, journalists, and critics that they’re doing things the right way. Then again, these sorts of “homage” remakes are only made because we continue to drool over graphics, we continue to cringe at anything that “feels old,” we continue to harass developers when their games don’t live up to OUR expectations (just look at Halo: Infinite).

All I can say now is: if you’re genuinely interested in playing Demon’s Souls, there are options. PS3s are relatively cheap (or at least cheaper than a PS5 with DeS at $70), and the RPCS3 emulator has made some great strides over the past few years. Now we have to be honest with ourselves: if all you’re really interested in for DeS on PS5 is the fact that it has good graphics, then I’d please ask you to consider buying another game to fulfill that audio/visual hunger. So many games have great graphics now, You won’t have to wait for much time before Horizon and other games release. However, there’s only one Demon’s Souls, and it’s still trapped on PS3.

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There’s clearly a lot of emotional investment here of the original Demon’s Souls here so I’m trying to be respectful of that. But can’t game reviewers and other players just… like a new game? Does it have to be this fraught ethical thing for everyone? Is there space for those who prefer the new Bluepoint direction to the original? I dunno, this just all seems too black and white to me but I could (probably) be speaking out of my depth here.

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I just think the game looks ugly

Edit: to be less pithy, this remake just hits me in a very odd place, where in 2020 i find myself so separate from the gaming capitalist hype machine that im just sitting here begging games press and public to please be less easily impressed. Its funny that the 90s psycho was brought up cause I’m just imagining the gaming press and public going “wow look at the improved cameras, its in COLOR, checkmate Hitchcock, this is the true essence of this film in my eyes”.

Its not even really Demon Souls, though i do personally find the new art style grating, the intensely gaudy and overly detailed models and world clashing with the sickly muted tone of the story and original game. Its just what it represents, the wild contrast of applying this capitalist marketing
machine of “expensive = automatically good” to a game that never really aspired to be that in the first place, and watching so many people fall over themselves to now proclaim it as “authentic” “immersive” “stunning”. For lack of better words I find it more than a bit embarrassing.

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If I think of this as Demon’s Souls All-Stars, I’m not too bothered with the design choices.

Now that I think about it, all of these remakes and enhanced editions should just be called All-Stars instead.

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As I said above, at the very least they should give these versions different names (and make sure there’s a faithful port first), but they really just want to re-sell us on nostalgia. And in order to re-sell us, Sony needs to make it “seem worthy” of our now $70, and nothing generates hype more than fancy new graphics.

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If Sony and Bluepoint are consistently failing the five points mentioned above, then yes it is a pretty big issue that needs to be called out.

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Speaking of All-Stars, the recent Mario remasters were actually really good! They felt, looked and sounded pretty much exactly the same as the originals! But those were received pretty poorly. Say what you will about Nintendo making you buy the same game over and over, but there literally hasn’t been a time in my entire life where I haven’t had easy access to Super Mario Bros. on modern hardware. For the series they care about, Nintendo is GREAT and preservation!

As stated above, this always comes back to tech fetishization. The narrative is that gamers want games that make their consoles fans so loud they can’t hear anything else. They want zero load times, even if that means that install sizes will keep ballooning. It’s just sad to see so much of the games press pushing that narrative, because it only really serves the capitalists who own console manufacturers and AAA Studios.

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I guess the part I’m bristling at is this view of games criticism through objective criteria. Those five points are dealbreakers to you, sure, but why does it have to be dealbreakers for everyone else? I totally get disagreeing with a review, or not liking the mainstream opinion of a game, but gesturing towards a failed review because the reviewer did not take into account your criteria seems a bridge too far for me.

In any case, I’m starting to sense emotions are heated in this thread so I’ll step away. Feel free to tear apart my logic!

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I think the All-Stars remake is very faithful to the original and that’s good, but I don’t think it necessarily means it is good for games preservation. The fact that these are digital-only (and disappear in March) just leads us back to the same problem once the switch is replaced.

As good as a remaster is in terms of preserving the original game, they all will eventually be rendered unplayable once the hardware dies. Backwards compatibility can extend the lifespan of these games, but we’ve seen with the new consoles that this is a solution that requires a lot of work, and that work will have to be done every time there is a major hardware or software revision. I think that emulation is the best route for games preservation in all cases and that remakes like Demon’s Souls should be considered on their own merits, but not as preservation efforts.

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I worry that this might be a bit off-topic, but anyways:

Over the last year or so, but especially these past few months or so, I started to realize something, which I find myself incapable of articulating in a more appropriate way than “I’m somehow more and more tired of art”.
I simply find myself caring less and less about fiction, entertainment, artists, interpretations, analysis and particular works. Or maybe it’s more accurate that I find myself less able to form lasting emotional attachment to these things? I don’t know. I still play video games, watch movies, read books and all that stuff, after all. I still enjoy them, but at the same time I just don’t “care” about them as much as I used to. That includes my old experiences, as well as my new ones.

Please, do not take this as criticism of anyone here or elsewhere. All I want to express is that the emotional investment many people I know personally, online, as well as on this forum, have to pieces of fiction, pieces of art, is becoming increasingly alien to me.

That’s all I have to say and it’s not even relevant to the topic of the thread. Please ignore this or feel free to delete it.

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Coming more from a technical end, that Patrick is able to play this, and have a recognizably Demon’s Souls experience, is nothing short of remarkable. I’ve been following Patrick and Rob’s twitter and their posts about their experiences with this game are almost word for word what I went through on my PS3 (even while my roommate mocked my masochistic battle with the game’s difficulty spikes).

To achieve that on a new engine, with a new team of artists requires a level of attention to detail and understanding of the original game that goes far beyond cut and paste. Many studios have tried to get what makes the Souls gameplay formula work, and have fallen well short. So I think Bluepoint have shown they have some impressive skills here, even if we don’t like the artistic choices.

That said, reading the way people feel about this remake makes me thankful for the article posted recently about the remake of Sam and Max Season 1. These stories are (intentionally, I think) in direct conversation, and reflect how we value games as a complete package and contributors as artists. The S&M team values individual contributors work so highly that they refused to change anything that they didn’t personally work on, wheras the DeS is a no holds barred attempt to bring a PS3 into a PS5 world of high graphics fidelity and clarity of interface. I think the contrast is particularly interesting since the Adventure game genre is one that rarely needs a technical update to be enjoyable (they stand or fall on writing, generally), where DeS is in the AA->AAA space, where the technical achievements sometimes overshadow gameplay. Yet, the reception seems to be the opposite of what I’d expect given that categorization.

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I think the discussion around remakes is interesting because it seems like it’s normally certain games that people tend to take offense to being remastered.

SMT Nocturne for example is getting remastered and that community is floored. Atlus even went so far as to remaster their original trailers which got people even more hyped.

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It’s one of the best looking games i’ve ever seen, and i’m looking forward to actually being able to play Demon’s Souls when I get a PS5 next year.