Let me preface this review by saying I’ve watched my brother and nephews play Dark Souls for 9 years.
Through all the tears, controller slamming, rage quitting, and screaming, they absolutely loved this game. It both piqued my curiosity and made me very skeptical. I went in expecting the hardest, most rage-filled game of all time.
I came out with a sort of awe at what I consider a perfect game of strategy, skill, patience, satisfying rewards, and general joy of playing in this world.
Review: Dark Souls Remastered
I finally did it. Dove headfirst into my first Souls game without a clue what to expect aside from a lot of dying. Dark Souls was originally released in 2011 and then remastered in 2018. I picked up the remastered version. After putting in about 35 hours on the PC, the game completely glitched and was unplayable.
‘But then there was Fire and with fire came disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, and of course, light and dark.’
The story is deliberately vague when you start. You’re in a cell when a body is dumped in from above by an ominous-looking knight. You finally see your face, and you look like crap, realizing you are the undead spoken of in the intro. The dumped body in front of you holds the key to the cell door, and off you go.
Once you fight your way out of the prison, you make your way to Fire Link Shrine. It’s here a ghostly knight will tell you to ring two bells, one above and one below. This is the only bit of direction you get for a while. After that, it’s a lot of exploring different areas, each with its own challenges and bosses.
The currency of the game is souls. Each enemy you kill drops varying degrees of them. However, if you die, you lose your souls. You have one chance to retrieve them from the spot you died. If you die before you get there, then they’re gone forever. Ouch
The first thing that struck me about this game is how fluid the controls are. They feel good. Each weapon has a different feel when it strikes. The armor can be light and dexy or powerfully heavy and slow. Because I unknowingly chose a thief to build (hey hey master key), my whole build was light and dexterous—lots of dodging and running.
*note: if you can learn to parry and riposte early on, do it! It’s so helpful for a lighter build and very satisfying when it lands.
The second thing I was in love with was the art design. From ruined castles to dangerous cliffs to rotting sewers, my medieval loving heart was in game heaven. Each section felt well thought out, gorgeous and unique, except for Blighttown. Those mosquitos can die in a fire. Just kidding.
Even as much as I hated Blighttown, I still appreciated its design. The music was beautiful and eerie and complemented the game rather than overpowering it.
And thirdly, begrudgingly, I do love a good challenge, and this game gave that in abundance. Yes, it’s a hard game. Yes, I was frustrated. But it’s also a fair game that you can figure out the boss’s strategy with a bit of patience and learning. And when you finally beat them? It. Is. Glorious. Like ‘you just finished your first half marathon’ glorious. And if you get really stuck, you can always pop humanity, unhollow yourself and summon a friend in to help.
Shoutout to my nephews for helping me beat a few baddies! Just watch out for invaders. If you are playing online and go unhollowed, any online player can invade you, kill you, and take your souls. This was the closest I got to rage quitting—sneaky little jerks.
I want to make an honorable mention to how the game distributes and levels up gear and armor. There is definitely a learning curve, but once you pick it up, it’s very helpful. Nothing here feels like a throwaway; everything feels unique.
When I shot the tail off of the dragon on the bridge and got my first decent sword, the Drake Sword, it felt like I was gifted this great treasure. And I slashed and sliced with that puppy for at least half the game.
When I finally beat Gwyn, the last boss of the game, I was equal parts elated, proud, and a little sad that my first experience with Dark Souls came to a close. This game was consuming in the best possible way. I feel like I’ve been indoctrinated into some special club. The community is amazing, the parodies are hilarious and painfully relatable, and I can’t wait to play the next one.
I give Dark Souls: Remastered 5 out of 5 tacos!
Watch my first playthrough on Twitch.