A few weeks ago, as of the publishing of this article, we finally got our first good look at the Playstation 5. Sure, the console itself just looks like a wi-fi modem and I’ll be making fun of it for years. But to be fair, we got to see a lot of incredible looking games! Horizon: Forbidden West, Village: Resident Evil (why isn’t it RE8: Village?), a new Ratchet and Clank (finally!), a stand-alone Miles Morales Spider-Man game, and even Hitman 3!
But fuck all that! None of that matters! Because they announced a fucking Demon’s Souls remake!
A long time ago now, I wrote an article about the original Demon’s Souls. To summarize: it’s a greatly underappreciated classic, despite its many rough edges. It’s a wonderful game that got completely overshadowed by its successors. Everyone knows Dark Souls 1-3, Bloodborne, or even Sekiro. But now, very few people talk about Demon’s Souls.
I can absolutely see why. It’s a game from 2009 that was exclusive to the PS3. Why would anyone want to go through the hassle of finding a copy and digging out their old console just to play a janky old game? Why not just play the less-but-still-very-janky Dark Souls on your computer or current-gen console? For a long time, it seemed like Demon’s Souls would be left to die. Murdered by Father Time.
Nope! Behold! A remake on modern hardware! No excuses now! This is set to be the resurgence of the grandfather of the Soulsborne genre!
More importantly, this is a great opportunity! Because let’s face the facts: this game has not aged well in more than a few regards. Between the rough-around-the-edges combat and several poorly implemented gameplay mechanics, Demon’s Souls is a game that needs a lot of fixing. If these are addressed, you could transform this game from a cult classic outshined by the games to come later to a true modern powerhouse!
Change #1: General Combat Refinement
Please, for the love of God, add Omni-directional rolling! You can only roll in, like, four directions in the original game! Please! If nothing else, give us that!
The combat in Demon’s Souls was passable for the time. But when you compare it to the other Soulsborne games, it certainly is lacking. Some weapons are so stupidly powerful that you’d be an idiot for not using it. Others are so pitifully weak that you’d be better off using the Broken Sword in Dark Souls 1!
And then there’s ranged combat. Jesus Christ, this shit is straight-up broken! Not only can you kill certain bosses through the fog gate via a bow, but you can cheese so many different enemies without them ever moving towards you! Sure, you got to aim the damn thing properly. But in comparison to the challenge of fighting certain enemies, it is piss easy!
Don’t even get me started on magic! This is even more busted than the bow! Some of these spells are so overpowered that it’s just ridiculous! If you’re playing a magic build, congratulations! You win the game! The advantage it gives you is carried throughout the entire game!
It’s safe to say that this game needs some balancing. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to lean over and take some notes from the other Soulsborne games. Granted, none of these are very well balanced! But I’ll take a world where I can’t cheese every single enemy with Spirit Arrow any day of the week.
Change #2: Healing
Remember in Bloodborne, how you could hold up to twenty Blood Vials (more with extra runes) for healing? And how you could grind for said vials in certain areas? Well, take that. And then make it horribly unbalanced in the player’s favor.
In Demon’s Souls, healing is based on various consumable grasses. At their weakest, they heal for virtually nothing, and at their strongest, they’ll fill your entire health bar. No, that’s not hyperbole; one of them literally heals one hundred percent of your HP. Oh, and did I mention that you can hold well beyond twenty of them? And grind them off of certain enemies or shopkeepers?
That needs to change. Either take a page from Bloodborne and limit the number of healing items you can carry or add an Estus-like mechanic. Not only would that make the game much more challenging, but it would go a long way in rebalancing the game.
Change #3: World Tendency
This. This is the single biggest one that needs to change.
So, for those that don’t know, World Tendency is a sort of good and evil balancing mechanic. Depending on what you do in each of the five areas, the WT will shift into Light or Darkness. To put it super simply, Light Tendency makes the game easier while Dark Tendency makes it harder. Kill bosses and NPCs to get Light, die and murder NPCs to get Dark.
Here are the many problems with World Tendency. One: it is not properly communicated to the player. Like, at all. Hell, my first playthrough, I didn’t even know it existed! The closest I ever got was when I screamed: “IS THE GAME GETTING HARDER OR DO I JUST SUCK THAT BAD?!”
And in this case, no, I didn’t suck! Every time you die, the world falls deeper into Dark Tendency, which makes it significantly harder! This is downright punishing to new/struggling players. Can you imagine how bad it would feel to discover that the game is actively punishing you for not being good at it yet?!
There’s a lot you can do to fix this mechanic. A clearer tutorial would certainly help. That, or you can lower the amount of punishment delivered to struggling players. So long as this mechanic is unclear and punishing new players too harshly, it needs to change.
Change #4: Rebalanced/Revamped Boss Fights
This might be the one that gets me the most flak. But hear me out, would you?
Demon’s Souls takes a different approach to boss fights than Dark Souls did. Each one is more like a puzzle than a proper battle. Some of them are still really hard, don’t get me wrong! And they’re a lot of fun! But… well… some of them are stupid easy.
Also, the Dragon God boss fight straight-up sucks. Like, it’s one of the worst bosses in the series. That is one that desperately needs some rebalancing. Or just a complete redesign! For fuck’s sake, that’s the boss in all the trailers and cinematics and shit! You gotta make it cool!
Some of these bosses really need some tweaking. Remove cheese tactics, rebalance their stats, and revamp certain bosses completely. Do I think this will happen? Probably not; I doubt Bluepoint would change the original that much. But personally, this would be a change I wouldn’t mind seeing.
Change #5: Item Burden
Fuck this mechanic. I honestly want this shit out of the game entirely. I fucking hate this shit!
Basically, for those who haven’t played Demon’s Souls: each item in the game has a weight to it. Your character can only carry so many items within their capacity. If you’re carrying too many heavy items, you won’t be able to pick up others. This requires a lot of micromanaging, which can be a huge pain in the ass at times.
Especially because this game is clunky as fuck! If I recall correctly, there’s a glitch where an item will despawn if you try to pick it up while over-encumbered and then die. Meaning, if you aren’t careful, you could lose some key items forever because of this mechanic! It can straight-up fuck the player over completely if they aren’t careful! And once again: it is not at all communicated properly to the player!
The later games completely ditched this mechanic and I can’t say I blame them. This shit needs to get fucking lost. I guarantee that the game will be better off without it.
Change #6: Extra Content
A lot of people have been speculating that some cut content will finally be playable in the remake. Personally, I’d absolutely love to see that! Let’s see what’s hidden behind that sixth cornerstone!
But why stop there? Why not add some fun little nods to the other Soulsborne games? Maybe you can find some hidden extra weapons from Bloodborne, Sekiro, or the Dark Souls trilogy? Or maybe you can make a hidden boss fight out of a character from one of those games! Can you imagine exploring a brand new area and finding a hidden boss fight?!
AND THAT BOSS FIGHT TURNS OUT TO BE SOLAIRE?!?! Can you imagine how sick that would be?!
Out of all of them, this is the one I honestly don’t think will happen. It would be cool and it would make me really happy! But I’m not setting my expectations through the roof. New content would be fun, especially if it were as ridiculous as what I’d suggested. But that’s not gonna happen.
The sheer potential of this remake is honestly kind of worrying. It could be “Oh, it’s Demon’s Souls but it looks a lot better!” Or it could be Demon’s Souls, reborn and revamped! It has the potential to be something truly spectacular!
But you know what would really help it out? A PC port. But I’m pretty sure Sony would sooner fly to the moon before letting that happen. So… I sure hope the PS5 does well.
It’s been a hot minute since I was this excited for a game! Seriously, what is it with FromSoftware games and selling me on consoles?! I bought a PS4 just for Bloodborne! Now I’m gonna buy a PS5 just for Demon’s Souls!
Now if only we had a release date for either one…