The TWRM GOTY 2018 Collab has begun! This special event consists of multiple writers making their best cases for their picks for GOTY 2018. Check out each article posted daily from the 1st through the 15th and listen to their points, then on January 16th you will have the opportunity to vote on which game you think should be crowned TWRM GOTY of 2018!
Dark Souls: Remastered
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: 24 May 2018 [PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows], 19 October 2018 [Nintendo Switch]
Genre: Action/Role-Playing Game
“The following is a contributor post by the Blood-Stained Metal Mage.”
2018 was the Dark Souls of video game releases. I’m sorry, I had to say it. Now that I feel overwhelmingly unclean, let’s move on. Ahem. 2018 was a fantastic year for games, and many of us desperately attempted to keep up with the continuous bombardment of releases. I admit, I fell behind for the most part – titles like God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Spider-Man are still glaring at me accusingly from my pile of shame. Instead, I found myself wading through my backlog or diving into remastered versions or remakes of long-time favourites: Secret of Mana, and my choice for Game of the Year 2018, Dark Souls: Remastered. I believe it deserves your vote too, and I will plead my case.
This is Solaire. He praises the Sun and likes supporting friends. He’s a good dude. Be like him.
For those of you who are strangers to the series, let me explain the story. Much like classic Nintendo titles, the plot is intentionally vague and unearthed through rare character interactions, item descriptions, boss encounters, and the world’s design. However, there is a stunning opening movie that establishes a vital piece of the game’s story through images and the following dialogue. I initially attempted to describe it myself here, but it paled in comparison to the actual text:
“In the Age of Ancients the world was unformed, shrouded by fog. A land of gray crags, Archtrees and Everlasting Dragons. But then there was Fire and with fire came disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, and of course, light and dark. Then from the dark, They came, and found the Souls of Lords within the flame. Nito, the First of the Dead, The Witch of Izalith and her Daughters of Chaos, Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights. And the Furtive Pygmy, so easily forgotten.
With the strength of Lords, they challenged the Dragons. Gwyn’s mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales. The Witches weaved great firestorms. Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease. And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the Dragons were no more.
Thus began the Age of Fire. But soon the flames will fade and only Dark will remain. Even now there are only embers, and man sees not light, but only endless nights. And amongst the living are seen, carriers of the accursed Darksign.
Yes, indeed. The Darksign brands the Undead. And in this land, the Undead are corralled and led to the north, where they are locked away, to await the end of the world… This is your fate.
Only, in the ancient legends it is stated, that one day an undead shall be chosen to leave the undead asylum, in pilgrimage, to the land of ancient lords, Lordran.”
And with that, the player is in control of the ‘chosen undead’ – a character that you are able to customise the appearance of, likely for hours, despite the fact you look like a rotten potato for most of the game. Yes, once you die, you lose humanity and your once-stunning looks. Which… happens a lot. So, many of us in the community give in to the despair in advance, which results in…
This is Sexbot 5000. She enjoys long walks on the beach, eating birds and staring at park benches.
The game itself – outside of an introductory area that doubles as a tutorial – refuses to hand-hold. The story can be as thin or rich as you desire, with the lore nestled deeply within the aforementioned elements. The world itself is vast and interconnected, with several late-game areas available from the start that are also overly punishing if you tackle them while under-leveled. This is what drew me in when I first played the series because, to me, it felt like a NES game. Back then, the story was largely present in instruction manuals and the world – especially in titles like Faxanadu – had many branching pathways that you could attempt either naked and unskilled, or later in the game when you felt confident in your abilities. With each death, the enemies respawn, and the player’s personal difficulty lowers the more you grow accustomed to enemy placement, your skills, and the general world surrounding you. This is where the initial game shined, but it also had problems – notably, the questionable framerate and frustration-inducing area, Blighttown (affectionately known as Lagtown by seasoned players). However, Dark Souls: Remastered fixed these issues, along with making alterations to the colour palette in several areas, smoothing textures, and including the base game’s DLC, ‘Artorias of the Abyss’. Visually, it’s stunning.
This is a rare, beautiful moment in Anor Londo before arrows punctured my will to live.
In terms of gameplay, I didn’t notice any glaring issues – rather, it ran smoothly. A tear of freedom trickled down my cheek when entering the once-maligned Blighttown along with an understanding that, if I died (and I did) repeatedly, I could no longer blame the lag. The colours are more pronounced, and some areas work better for it – especially Lost Izalith. Rather than eye-meltingly bright lava that haunted our sight in the original, the colours are more subdued – darker, more bleak, like the rest of the world is.
The original game – despite its issues – was one of my favourite games ever made, and this remaster stepped in to claim its place. I know the series seemingly created its own Souls-like sub-genre, but to me, it simply reminded me of the NES era, as stated previously. Like those games, the story encourages exploration and deep thinking. The world supports curiosity within the player as they seek to improve and advance. And yes, it should be your game of the year like it was mine. Vote for it. Do it for Sexbot 5000.
+ Significant changes to how the game runs. Movement is no longer occasionally choppy or delayed.
+ The music, like the original, is amazing. Intricate piano pieces intermingled with more atmospheric and bombastic pieces that perfectly align with the content on-screen.
+ The world design perfectly supports the lore behind it. Enemies, items, bosses and NPCs – each offers valuable insight into Lordran’s history and current state.
+ Difficulty is occasionally punishing yet fair. Each boss has specific movements that can be memorised and confronted.
+ The variety in location design. You have darkness, poisonous swamps, lava, and sewers, to name a few.
– Lost Izalith and Bed of Chaos still suck.
– There’s no wonderful edit where the Great Grey Wolf Sif teleports instead of being killed.
– Anor Londo archers.
– It ends.
Lunatic Pandora is the Blood-Stained Metal Mage here at TWRM, writer of the soon-to-be-released poetry book Dancer in the Dark, video game, horror and metal fanatic, and can be found in people’s basements, where she places curses on the neighbourhood children. Follow her on Twitter @gimmethefife!
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form reviews. We’re a community aspiring to pay our contributors and build a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!
Categories: TWRM GOTY 2018