With the PS5 in such high demand, it stands to reason that the launch titles must have been nothing short of amazing. What blows the rest of them out of the water and truly reigns in the new age of console is nothing else but Demon’s Souls, one of the most anticipated remakes of the past year. With stunning visuals and fluid gameplay, this feels almost like a game that would come out of the console mid-lifespan. While the same punishing Souls gameplay is still present, the fluidity of movement and combat makes Demon’s Souls stand a head above the rest. Even with more archaic systems compared to the more recent entries, Demon’s Souls is a phenomenal title.
What tends to stick out to me about Souls titles the most is the haunting beauty of the environments. Most notably in Bloodborne for me, standing around and staring at things far off in the background or small details in ambush rooms had always been my favorite part of the games. Demon’s Souls fully delivers on that aspect. Every environment is beautifully and meticulously remade from the original in stunning detail, so much so that it can feel like you’re staring at a stationary picture at times. Every enemy type feels engaging to encounter, and bosses feel menacing to the point where it’s frightening to be in their vicinity. The tutorial world does a great job with introducing the player to the rhythmic combat of Demon’s Souls, including showing players the massive detriments of being unable to adapt fast enough. Demon’s Souls won’t hold your hand, but following the hints given to you by enemy placement and what other players may have left gives you enough to gleam how to progress through a level.
The hardest make or break for Souls titles is the combat. It’s very love or hate, as you can’t mindlessly approach it without losing massive amounts of progress. This is especially true in Demon’s Souls, as this game is from a time before there were more than a few checkpoints per level. You start by teleporting to an area, and typically cannot get to the next checkpoint until you defeat a boss. This leads to another very love or hate aspect of the game, which is the backtracking. If you die and lose your souls, you need to replay the entire level back to the exact point where you died to get your souls back, in typical Souls game fashion. With the lack of checkpoints this can lead to a lot of replaying to get a run down perfectly, and when you finally make it from start to finish it is more than incredibly gratifying. This is one of those games where you can feel yourself getting better at it, and actual mastery of the combat is integral to progression. Feeling like a better player only fuels the progress, and leads to a very satisfying gameplay loop when you’re on a roll. The opposite is true as well, however. Dying while running to your already lost souls is incredibly demoralizing since you lose all the souls you were running to AND you have to repeat the level. Even with past Souls experience under my belt it gets to me, but it’s pretty easy to get over.
The PS5 has done nothing but blow my expectations out of the water, as there are very noticeable strides of progress present even in the launch titles. The beauty of the environments in Demon’s Souls is not to be understated, and the fact that there are next to no loading times for these massive spaces is phenomenal. Stepping through the fog feels seamless, as everything loads so quickly. Every bit of the game feels more immersive with the controller haptics, as they change depending on what is going on at any given time. Even in darker environments you feel the twinge of damage, and once you begin to use it you can feel the hum of magic as you prepare and launch it. Small details like these add a new level to the immersion, and even after you get acclimated to them it’s very hard to play a different game without that same type of haptic feedback. So many of the new PS5 features feel so well utilized in Demon’s Souls that it is absolutely worth picking up if you managed to get a PS5, and a very easy purchase once PS5s come back in stock.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5