Despite trying my hand at most entries in the series, I’m no expert on From Software’s SoulsBorne games. I usually get an hour or so into the game and then come to a stop, take Sekiro for instance which I gave up on shortly after writing some first impressions. With the arrival of the PlayStation 5 though (and more on the console itself here), the big new generation launch title is Demon’s Souls, and I did the right thing by picking up a copy.
I’ll put my cards on the table here up front, I’ve only defeated one boss so far which compared to most SoulsBorne players isn’t very good. But it’s more than I’ve achieved in any title in the series apart from Bloodborne so I’m pretty happy with my progress.
I’ve previously tried to tackle the Dark Souls titles, but even on the PC I have found their aesthetic too dark and dingy to really get along with (not counting my lack of skills), while the appeal of Bloodborne was the gothic Victorian setting. Demon’s Souls starts proper in the Boletarian Palace, a monstrous medieval fortress city which could so easily have fallen into the dark and dingy feeling that put me off the Dark Souls titles.
Indeed, looking back at some videos of Demon’s Souls running on the PlayStation 3 makes me glad I didn’t play it two generations ago. This PlayStation 5 remake from Bluepoint Games is by all accounts a step by step recreation of the original, but all brought up to date to take account of the power of Sony’s latest machine.
In short, it looks utterly stunning and a brilliant showpiece of what the new generation of consoles can achieve.
This version of Demon’s Souls does feature some nods to modern gaming trends by including a wildly enhanced character creation kit compared to the original. There is also a new photo mode, one which might have the purists up in arms as it gives players a way of pausing the action. For me it’s been a life saver by allowing me to take a breather and re-asses my strategy.
My journey through the Boletarian Palace to the Phalanx boss was a wonderfully tense experience. I died a few times, I can’t deny that. But the process of learning the offense of the enemies and then taking them down with the knowledge that I had built up over time is one that few other games match. Opening up new routes around the Palace offering shortcuts to the starting Archstone were moments of fist-pumping success, although I have to say that the second stage along the Lord’s Path is a more linear (and slightly boring) journey to the formidable Tower Knight, a boss that I will defeat one day.
I also welcomed the ability to switch between worlds from the central Nexus. Although I haven’t explored all four worlds, moving to an entirely different area when you get stuck against one boss is a nice change of pace. It’s worth highlighting that the transition between worlds via the Archstone’s are lightning fast, really showing off the power of the PlayStation 5.
In some ways I’m pleased that Bluepoint didn’t introduce an easy mode at that would have undermined the experience of learning the levels and understanding the enemies. I kind of wish there was a mode where you could skip the bosses, but that’s a personal preference and doesn’t take anything away from a brilliant game.
If you own a PlayStation 5, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t get yourself a copy of Demon’s Souls.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PlayStation 5
Review based on retail purchased copy. For more on our scoring policy please see this post.