After spending a few hours with the remake this morning, I can confirm that playing Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 5 is almost exactly like playing Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 3. And that’s a very good thing.
I’ll admit I arrived to the Demon’s Souls party later than most, like “first played it in the last couple of months” late. By the time I became fully invested in the Souls franchise, I had already boxed up my PlayStation 3 to make room for other consoles. But in seeing the first footage of Bluepoint Games’ remake for the PlayStation 5 and deciding I wanted to cover it for Kotaku, I knew due diligence required finally taking a shot at the game that laid the groundwork for Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro.
With the original game fresh in my mind, I was extremely excited to finally get my hands on the PlayStation 5 remake of Demon’s Souls this morning. I messed around with the various visual filters, each one providing a radical change to the game’s core aesthetics. I saved Ostrava of Boletaria. I baited the gigantic Red Dragon (although, if we’re nitpicking, it’s technically a wyvern) into a strafing run on a group of undead soldiers. I defeated the Phalanx boss at the end of the first stage with a combination of firebombs and pine resin, the fiery weapon enhancement previously known as turpentine.
None of this should be surprising if you’ve played Demon’s Souls before. Veterans will know these setpieces like the backs of their hands. Enemies still act just as they did in the PlayStation 3 classic; I was particularly happy about getting some early dregs to fall into a familiar hole much like players could in the original. Every item and corridor is where they belong, and therein lies the beauty of Bluepoint’s remake: This is still very much Demon’s Souls, its core glowing brightly beneath the several layers of paint that make it such a visual marvel.
And my god, what a marvel it is. It may be a bit silly to start handing out awards the day before the console launches, but Demon’s Souls is the best-looking PlayStation 5 game I’ve seen. While a lot of that probably has to do with it being one of just two games wholly developed for the next-generation system so far (system pack-in Astro’s Playroom being the other), the folks at Bluepoint have truly outdone themselves with this latest remake. Whether you set it to emphasise graphical fidelity or framerate, Demon’s Souls bombards you with environments that feel full of life even as the game’s world suffers from the cataclysmic invasion of its demonic antagonists.
Where Demon’s Souls truly shines, however, is in the small gameplay improvements Bluepoint made on the 11-year-old original. While the amount of stuff a character can carry is limited to their stats, items and equipment can be sent to the hub area’s storage at any time via an inventory menu, making it much easier to open up space for another healing item or a cool new sword. Blacksmiths can now repair your entire loadout, rather than doing so piece by piece. Weapons have unique riposte animations; while using the starting rapier, for instance, my character stabs enemies in the throat after a successful parry, while the scimitar gores the enemy and slams them into the ground. Multiple souls can be consumed at once on the inventory screen. I’m also hearing word that you can reset your stat allocations, though I believe that’s tied behind a 25,000-soul offering that I haven’t had the scratch to make yet.
Demon’s Souls is a massive game, and as such any authoritative proclamations will have to wait until I have more time with it. But during my first few hours, I’ve found myself more than impressed with what Bluepoint has been able to achieve. While early on you may feel some dissonance between the classic gameplay and the updated graphics, that quickly goes away once you’re back in the thick of things. I think there’s something really special here, and I can’t wait to forge ahead.