There’s much to praise about the remake of Demon’s Souls. It’s a remarkable technical showpiece for the PlayStation 5; a gripping gameplay experience that oscillates between exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and downright heartbreaking; and a faithful recreation of the seminal title that birthed the Souls-like subgenre. But developer Bluepoint’s greatest achievement is that it took something I’m intimately familiar with and made me feel like I was venturing into the unknown.
Fundamentally, Demon’s Souls for PS5 is what it has always been. Barring some small tweaks, the design of the game is identical to From Software’s original. The core mechanics are unchanged, the enemies are placed in the same positions and behave in the same ways, the devious tricks and traps are still there, ready to catch the unfamiliar off-guard.
And yet, while retreading a well-worn path through the kingdom of Boletaria, I find myself without the confidence I should have. I’m cautiously approaching basic enemies with my shield raised, knowing their every move and how to overcome them, but fearing them still. I stand paralyzed at the end of narrow stone tunnels ominously lit by flickering torches, knowing exactly what awaits in the darkness, but still needing to will myself forward. And as monstrous demons step into arenas in which I’ve bested them dozens of times, I begin to doubt my chances at victory once more.