Demon's Souls for PS5: in search of the old Souls in the remake of Bluepoint - article

Demon's Souls for PS5: in search of the old Souls in the remake of Bluepoint - article
Bluepoint Games' reimagining of Demon's Souls is the top-rated PS5 launch game, and it is with good reason. The Austin studio, pitching its take on Demon's Souls on Sony's new console, has done a fantastic job enriching their remake of a cult classic with modern conveniences like a full photo mode, two different graphics options and of course a look. breathtaking visual. That said, it's still fascinating to notice some of the things Bluepoint was able to tweak in his reinterpretation of the game and wonder if some elements of the original design have been lost in this "translation."

Demon's Souls' beginnings were stormy. Initially conceived as a rival of Oblivion, it struggled in the early development period. That was when Armored Core 4 and Armored Core: For Answer director Hidetaka Miyazaki was involved to lead the project and make sure Demon's Souls made it to the final release. After an initial demonstration, former SIE president Shuhei Yoshida recalled calling him "incredibly bad". Sony never released the original Demon's Souls release outside of Asia.

10 years later, the details from the developers are still scarce with only a few snippets of interviews with key team members as the only information we have about the conditions under which Demon's Souls was developed. There is however a clear narrative that confirms conflicts and problems in meeting Sony Japan's internal expectations. This effort can be glimpsed from what is presented to us in the game itself. Damaged Archstone, full of cut content, frustrating swamps and botched boss fights like the Dragon God from Demon's Souls which was probably thought of more as a great one-off moment in the experience than a quick and easy boss. But the conditions and resources made available for the game also reflected the world that From Software was trying to portray.

Everything about the Boletaria kingdom of Demon's Souls showed us a nation that looked like it might have existed back in the Centuries Blinds. Purely utilitarian in its design, with ornate and imaginative elements relegated to the margins or lost in the deep chasms of its own nation. We can see all of this illustrated in the Shrine of the Storms or in the Framelurker's lair and again on the edge of Boletaria's Palace.

In the Bluepoint remake everything is repainted with a brush of magnificence, with design elements present in the original significantly modified. For example, the Flamelurker's lair in the original was an old monument dedicated to veneration, with scattered dragon bones and very naturalistic sensations in terms of palette and design. In Bluepoint's reinterpretation, we instead have bursting flames sprouting from every inch of the monument with a clear circular area of ​​the boss in the center, all decorated with a flaming skull of a dragon. It seems odd compared to the design that was proposed before arriving in this area. These are no longer old ruins lost in time and history but something that focuses on the player's journey, a reward for getting lost inside the winding tunnels of Stonefang. It is no longer a matter of game world history but instead is specifically focused on the journey to this place and on presenting itself as a visual reward.

We see other elements revisited in the levels of the Boletaria Palace that have abandoned the more utilitarian aspect from dark ages in favor of the majesty of Gothic architecture. It's something Bluepoint artist Adam Rehmann made clear when he showed the concepts for the level on Artstation even though there are a few things to be said about the more empty and grubby aspect of the original game. What if Undead Town in Dark Souls had a more polished look than it does, what if it was grander? Would it have reduced the impact of seeing Anor Londo's stunning architecture for the first time? The aesthetic created in Bluepoint's reinterpretation of Demon's Souls is more akin to Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne. The Bluepoint team may have started with the intent of recreating the visual identity of Boletaria but did they simply end up chasing the aesthetics of the games that came next?

This content is hosted on an external platform, which will only display it if you accept targeting cookies. Please enable cookies to view. Manage cookie settings Watch on YouTube. Enemies, NPCs, and bosses have also been revisited. In most cases these are small purely aesthetic changes that add further refinements and details on top of existing designs. The iconic (and not-so-happy name) fat officer is a hallmark of Demon's Souls, characters who wear ornate, big-looking gear and sport a grin as if they know how annoying they are to meet. In the remake, this sophisticated design changed to a man chock full of buboes. It's a design overhaul that, to put it simply, doesn't turn out quite as good.

There are a handful of other areas where some of the original spirit may have been lost. The "Swamp of Pain" in the version of Bluepoint is deprived of the advantages of the particular management of the draw distance and also changes the amount of light present on the screen. Where in the original moving inside the swamp gave sensations of a claustrophobic nightmare illuminated only by torches to guide you, now basically everything is visible from the beginning of the level with a clear and evident direction to take. The Black Phantom can even be seen moving across the swamp from a rather significant distance. It's something that dampens its impact.

Certainly there are several examples where Bluepoint has made a positive impact by surpassing what's present in the original. The Latria Tower is still a joy to walk through and there are moments in the Shrine of the Storms where you really find yourself in a different category than the original in several respects. In many ways, the design changes are a push and pull when it comes to being able to respect the spirit and atmosphere of the game's original intent. The Storm King battle scenario is miles ahead of its 2009 counterpart and the same can be said for things like the boss fight with the Idol of Fools and the Prison of Hope area. There are clear lines between what has been significantly changed and what has remained faithful to the source material.

The original 2009 release featured an incredibly minimalistic soundtrack thanks to Shunsuke Kida, who recently tweeted in support of the rearrangement and orchestration proposed by Bluepoint in its own version. However, one of the greatest strengths of the original game was its limited use of sound in general, including the soundtrack every time a boss encounter is reached. The measured musical accompaniment has given birth to some of the most impactful moments in the game such as fighting Garl Vinland in the Corruption Valley as Santa Astraea begs to be left alone, surrounded by a river of plagued infants. Lean instrumentation and track repetition plunges the level into a dark atmosphere. Music represents the sadness of the characters as much as their words or actions.

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The Bluepoint reinterpretation instead it departs from the original rhythm and solemnity of the original play and makes abundant use of an opulent orchestra. The trail changes from the quiet salvation of the damned to something that resembles the last battle of an army. With a marching pace, and choral bombast that doesn't seem right for the situation. While taking the track and the rest of the soundtrack aside are incredible, in context it seems instead that Bluepoint was chasing the legacy of the series that the original game subsequently brought to life.

Despite the changes mentioned earlier, It must be emphasized that the core of the Demon's Souls gameplay experience has actually remained intact, with some areas being better and some worse in terms of fidelity. The masterpiece that was the original highlighted a change in the way games were played and thought so it wasn't an easy feat to recreate. Ultimately, the remake of Bluepoint ends up proving to be a very different creature from the original title.

As a means to experience Demon's Souls for the first time he does his in a fantastic way but also puts in the spotlight the question of preservation of the experience of the original Demon's Souls, a game whose servers have been closed for four years, which means that even if you own a PS3 and want to fully experience the original game, you can't. A small community of fans are keeping the game alive on private servers and have even managed to run it on PS3 emulators. Bluepoint has put a tremendous amount of love and effort into shaping this beautiful remake and this aspect should not be ignored. Likewise, the memories of such a historically significant game must also be kept alive and preserved.

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