Souls fans’ greatest wish has finally been answered: Sony has announced a remake of the original Demon’s Souls for the PlayStation 5. We didn’t learn much about the game during Sony’s live stream this week. Or did we? Some of those short clips seem to imply some big news for the remake.
Before the actual trailer, longtime Sony executive Shuhei Yoshida introduced the game as something “near and dear” to him. This is comical since it was Yoshida himself that decided to not bring the original game to Western audiences. In a 2012 interview with Game Informer, Yoshida lamented the fact that Sony missed the Souls boat initially, letting it instead be published in the West by Atlus. He said that he had tried the first few hours of it during development, but came away with the impression that it was “crap” and an “unbelievably bad game.” Demon’s Souls didn’t really gel as a game until very close to the end of its development. Yoshida told Game Informer these things because he was recanting his position, having since realized the value of Demon’s Souls and its spiritual successors like Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
What the world saw yesterday was a loose recreation of the original game’s attract mode movie. It omitted the stage-setting text crawl, and also intercut some recreations of the PS3 version’s various cinematics. These include gargoyles swooping down to grab the player after the Fool’s Idol boss fight, a grim reaper summoning phantoms in the Shrine of Storms, and the famous intro to the Tower Knight boss battle.
Overnight, Twitter was falling over itself to compare the differences, as well as the officially-released screenshots, which all seem like they were taken from the tutorial stage of the game. Spartan, empty hallways and narrow bridges are now cluttered with rubble and cathedrals in the far distance, but the item placement indicates that these are the same locations.
This is the big one. Early in the trailer, we see various landscapes and settings before being overrun by the colorless deep fog that envelops them. One of the settings is a large, snowy mountain range. This does not appear in the older game’s opening cinematic, and its significance is making the Souls community flip the hell out.
This is because the snowy mountains could be a hint that the PlayStation 5 game will contain a completed version of the original Demon’s Souls’ scrapped sixth level, The Northern Limit.
Dropped during development for unknown reasons (probably because making video games is extremely hard), the gateway to the Northern Limit was left crumbled in Demon’s Souls hub, The Nexus, as something of a plot device. The call-to-action cutscene that takes place after the game’s first proper level claims that it was inhabited by giants of the great northern lands, but it was the first location to be overrun by the demons and sealed off.
Nevertheless, hackers have since found bits and pieces of the under-developed level in the PS3 game’s files, along with unused enemies, weapons, and NPCs that may have been intended to inhabit it.
This is no guarantee, but the addition of what might constitute a 20 percent increase in content has been on the minds of Demon’s Souls fanatics ever since the remake rumors started to swirl. So far, beyond the inclusion of something called “Fractured Mode,” nothing else regarding possible additions has been officially announced
This is more of a stray observation than anything, but the subset of Souls players obsessed with the loose series’ dense lore are having a field day with the trailer’s redesigns to areas and bosses, however slight and cosmetic they may be. For example, we got a brief look at the Flamelurker, the second boss of Stonefang Tunnel. The original design of the monster had one eye blotted out, which suggested connections between it and the game’s two blacksmiths, Ed and Boldwin, who also operate with a single eye apiece.
This has led to some general unease from Souls fans on Twitter about the remake’s overall visual design. Some call Flamelurker itself a generic Doom enemy. Some are not thrilled with the cartoonish nature of the skeleton at the end of the trailer, which was originally colored gold in the PS3 version.
Demon’s Souls was developed by From Software with help from Sony’s Japan Studio. The trailer credits the remake maestros at Bluepoint Games, and Japan Studio, but not From. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of From Software in the video or screenshots that have been released thus far. With the possibility of the Northern Limit looming, Souls fans are left wondering how much input the games’ original designers will have on this remake. WIth no release date set for it yet, we may need to settle in for many months of further speculation.
John Learned is a freelance writer published on spots like USGamer, Paste, The Escapist, and creates Annotated Games on YouTube.