A giant beast waits at the end of the tunnel, with long, disproportionate legs, deformed and purulent body, glistening and limp eyes, reflecting the flames returning from bubbling chelycers. It is a cyclopean spider, bred in the dense darkness of the Stonang Mine: a strange chitinous mass hangs from its belly, a disgusting pincer that was born as a gloomy and disgusting accessory.
It is in the presence of the dangerous spider Armored Spider that you can see – in case the breathtaking views of the first trailers were not enough – how impressive the modernization work carried out by the guys from Bluepoint Games at Demon souls, a title that appeared 11 years ago From the software at Developer Olympus and rewritten the action RPG paradigm (here’s our review of Demon’s Souls in the original PS3 version).
Between loyalty and innovation
If without some artistic freedom, remake The shadow of the colossus (if you’d like to go deeper, here is a Shadow of the Colossus review) was conceived as a conservation work, a respectful tribute to the work and aesthetics of Fumito Ueda, in this case the commitment to production has gone much further. You can see that the team does not want to distort the production, change its rhythm and philosophy:the overall experience remains the same as always, punitive and ruthless, and of course neither the structure of the world nor the rhythm of the game changes. Be however, the models are brand new heroes, twisted creatures that swarm in the territory of Boletaria, huge bosses with whom we have to face.
If in addition to this we consider the work on the reconstruction of environments, dynamic lighting that literally sublimates the gloomy atmosphere of dark fantasy, smooth and highly calculated animations, we understand that the PS5 version of Demon’s Souls is much more than a restoration or a tribute: it’s an integral restoration, so powerful in terms of visual effect and technical knowledge that it is hard to compare with remakes of this generation. In addition to taking a close look at the gameplay in production, we chatted with her Gavin Moore, Creative Director of the project in force at Japan Studio. Then we discovered an interesting background to development and the philosophy that guided it.
“We tried to work with great respect for the material produced by From Software, keeping the elements that made Demon’s Souls great.”. A very clear difficulty, a mysterious mythology that only appears occasionally, the dark shades of Boletaria are the details that confirm the words of Gavin Moore. And despite the fact that we are guessing the original team was not directly involved, we have to admit that the fun system of this new Demon’s Souls seems essentially unchanged, even when it comes to more technical details (like the weight system and its impact on escapist coups).
Considering what was written at the beginning, what completely changes is your outlook “Just take into account the number of polygons with which we reconstructed each element of the scenario and each opponent to understand that there is a gap between the results we got on PS5 and what Bluepoint has done so far. if I had to identify the single item that I am most proud of, it would undoubtedly be the file lighting system fully calculated in real time. Audiences have gotten used to seeing, in some productions of this generation, static Global Illumination, calculated in advance and applied to the environment. In Demon’s Souls there is no single, pre-calculated light source, the Bluepoint engine displays each light source in real time, be it a torch held by a hero, a fireball thrown by an enemy, a spell summoned on the spot. The effect of this technology is something that has never been seen before, and only the PlayStation 5 hardware allowed us to fully realize our creative vision “.
Again, the game director’s claims are confirmed by the facts: a collision with the agile Flamelurker, a flaming demon that flashes in the narrow arena, is the confusion of heat flashes reflecting on the columns, flaming tongues stretching across the floor. marble, sparks that glow and go out with each impact on the beast’s lava body. This is one for sure a captivating spectacle, wonderful especially at 60fps. We remind you that Demon’s Souls will offer two different rendering modes on PS5: “performance mode”, which guarantees maximum smoothness with reduced resolution (Gavin Moore talked about dynamic resolution in the range from 1440p to 4K) and “resolution mode”, which increased native resolution up to 4K will freeze frames per second at 30 frames per second.
We haven’t looked at the latter yet, but we find it difficult to prefer it to the first. For those concerned about the potential discrepancies this dual option could create in a multiplayer perspective (remember that the PvP system has remained unchanged from the original work), Gavin replies as follows: “We ran a lot of tests to find out if one of these two setups could benefit players. We realized that to avoid imbalances it was necessary to ensure no frames. The PS5 manages to keep both 30fps and 60s constant, depending on the option selected, which allows for a balanced experience at any occasion “.
The most careful fans of From Software’s production know about it the band’s original plans also included a sixth Archstone inside the Nexus, possibly related to the environment that was cut from the final product for production purposes. Many had hoped that Bluepoint’s transformation could bring with it a welcome surprise, namely adding a whole new world. “This is the question that everyone asks us “Gavin Moore is starting to insist on this “But there won’t be a sixth portal in our Demon’s Soul Nexus. It will also not be added with post-release support as no DLC is planned. Again, distorting the original game didn’t feel right, perhaps risks creating content inconsistent with the team’s vision “.
The fact that the remake has an eye for fidelity to the original work is also evidenced by other details such as behavior of the World Tendency system. It is not easy to explain this mechanism to those unfamiliar with the original Demon Souls, but it is generally an indicator that measures the “decay state” of different regions of the world. Death several times in the same area drags her towards black oblivion, freeing her from the great bosses who attack her, instead shifting her balance towards a cleaner state.
“Of course, we kept the World Tendency mechanism”Moore confirms “also because it has a fundamental impact on loot and soul earnings, two aspects that differ depending on the state of Boletaria. We don’t think the mechanism was too complicated, if it was too mysterious at all, hard to maintain For this reason, we have enabled the ability to check the orientation of different regions at any time, leaving even clearer signals about the impact that oscillations will have on NPCs “.
Minor changes to the treatment system as well: Demon’s Souls is the only From Software product that does not use a system similar to that of Estus Flasks and therefore provides the player with potentially a very large amount of healing items. “We know that in certain contexts (not just PvP), the possibility of accumulating many medicinal herbs was a problem. However, we couldn’t completely eliminate such an important element in the iconography and balance of the Demon Souls. That is why we decided to limit their number. herbs that the player can transport: you will be able to have 10 units of the most effective healing herbs (Full Moon Grass) and 50 units of the least penetrating (Crescent Moon Grass), we have also changed their inventory weight to discourage them from transporting large amounts “. Of course, the effectiveness of these changes will have to be tested first-hand, but we consider the team’s approach potentially effective.
Staying on the subject of the content, Gavin More unbends a bit what can we expect after completing the game: “We know that Demon’s Souls is certainly not the richest and densest title among the titles developed by From Software, so we have
tried to encourage players to play new games after the first. When New Game + starts, players will receive a very special item that will have a big impact on their approach to the game. I prefer not to disclose more, but am very curious about the community’s response. File Fractured Mode, which is nothing but… mirror mode. In practice, the game world will be duplicated and I can assure you that it is an unexpectedly complex challenge even for an experienced player, as it undermines all the automatisms gained during the exploration of the map. We also took advantage of new activities integrated into the PS5 dashboard to keep players engaged and offered a series of immediate challenges.
Gavin Moore also confirmed that the development team was working on some aspects related to accessibilitymaking some of the narrative nuances more apparent and the story of Boletaria and its mythology less obscure and impenetrable. New Demon’s Souls also supports a new in-game help feature for PlayStation Plus members: subscribers to the service will be able to call on the fly video guides showing the best strategies for dealing with your bosses, perhaps you feel a little less lost in the abandoned world created by From Software and today rebuilt by the skilled hands of Bluepoint.