Demon Souls Remaster: PS5 Review

Around 12 years ago, our beloved FromSoftware developed one of the hardest games of its time, which would be the start of a franchise that would brutally torture players for years to come. No, I am not talking about games like Echo the Dolphin or Ninja Gaiden, this is Demon Souls. This game is an action RPG that was released on the PlayStation 3 that would be published by Sony Entertainment that released in Japan in February and came to America by Atlus in October. Fast forward to November of 2020 and players have been met with a visually stunning remake of the game that Bluepoint Games developed. This remake is not only extremely successful with perfect or near-perfect scores across the board with most reviewers, and I am more than inclined to agree with the amazing work this developer put into bringing back an iconic game. 

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The game takes place in the Kingdom of Boletaria which has been surrounded by a deadly impenetrable fog. King Allant awakened the Old One when he brought back the Soul Arts, which in turn released a sinister swarm of demons that will eventually consume the land unless the Old One is put back into its slumber. Players control a warrior that enters this fog whose soul becomes trapped within the Nexus and have to find a way to break free of this land. In defeated these demons that have invaded the land, the warrior hopes the Old One will eventually go back to sleep.

This remaster was impressively well done, and can almost be considered a remake with the number of changes made to the game. The game’s graphical upgrade paired with new motion blur and ray tracing honestly feels like a brand new game. The details compared to the original game are astounding, and even the character design options have upgraded immensely. Every design from NPCs to the enemies has become beautifully refined, and the environments are nothing short of breathtaking. Players also got to enjoy a rerecorded soundtrack and dialogue for cleaner audio. This experience is maximized by the dual sense controller with utilization in capturing all the sounds from the environment such as casting the spells in the mines, or even hitting your controller against the wall accidentally. Demon Souls is a testament to showing how immersive technology allows your games to become.

In addition to the intense graphical upgrade, the game brought gameplay improvements as well. Players get to experience better camera function when in combat by being in closer view of their character. In addition, we also get omnidirectional rolling to better evade incoming attacks giving us a better fighting chance with bosses. In addition to the crazy amount of healing items that allowed players to cheese some bosses healing grass and other restorative items have been given weight to help balance your carry load. Plays can also now move items to storage from the menu to avoid constant over encumbrance and fat rolling your way back to the Nexus. The game brings new animations when moving and during combat, load times are nonexistent, and the UI was greatly improved from the original game. When I say this was a remake, I mean that this game looked and felt completely different from before.

Demon Souls still keeps the brutality that it is known for from its original release. Players will not get bonfires like Dark Souls but instead are met with checkpoints. Players still have to use their gained souls for leveling and currency as per any souls game from this developer. When in soul form after dying, HP is halved making it harder to take any damage without dying as per usual. The only way to leave this form is vanquishing the demon that has taken reign over the area. In doing so you also can return to the Nexus and have a new start point for the next area. So for new players that want to start souls games, the remake is not where you will want to start to ease into the souls franchise. I recommend looking to start with Dark Souls 2 or 3.

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My only complaint is that I would have liked to see some more balancing to the game as far as classes go. You can still easily cheese your way through the game by playing a magic build, especially with Royal which gives you an edge on both melee and magic. Magic casting basically can run you through the first few bosses without taking much damage at all or needed to learn movement. Especially with the Armored Spider and the Tower Knight seeing as one does not move and the other can not climb stairs. Other than that this game was near perfect and exactly what players needed to revisit the game. Bluepoint did a fantastic job of bringing us a newly refined classic while still keeping to its original roots.

DVS Score: 9/10

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Review

Turning back the clock 9 years ago, a solid action RPG, known as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, came out on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The game was developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, and published with the help of EA. The game had a very successful launch with reviews that landed the game a big 9/10 from IGN and an 81 on Meta, but for whatever reason, we did not see anything more from the franchise. IGN speculated that reports advised massive layoffs which resulted in the sequel to be canceled, and things stayed silent until the year 2020, in which the remastered version of the game released with updated stunning visuals and refined gameplay. This remaster was refreshing in bringing back the MMO-like gameplay that we all loved so much in our single-player title. You can buy this masterpiece on all current generation and last generation platforms for only $39.99, and it’s worth every penny. 

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For players that never experienced the original game, the remastered version is the best place to start. Kingdoms of Amalur is set in the Faelands, a kingdom that is home to the immortal Fae of the Summer and Winter Courts. Essentially rather than passing on, souls are reborn in a new body. Players get to embark on their journey as a customizable character that becomes the “Fateless One”, who was supposed to have died but was successfully revived in an experiment led by Foromous Hugues, a gnome scientist. The kingdoms are torn in a war between the mortals and Winter Fae that players are dropped right in the middle of, literally. Because of the main character’s lack of fate, they decide to journey to find Hugues in hopes of uncovering the mystery of your death and also aid in the war along the way.

This game is fantastic for those that love old-school action RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series, and those who love MMOs like classic WoW. Once players enter the open-world part of the game, there is no clear path for the game, because players get to decide if they want to continue on the main quest or complete tasks, faction quests, or side quests. Every region is huge and loaded with endless adventures, and the main character is not tied down to any specific path. Players also get to choose “their fate” meaning their class. One can change and customize as they go, unlocking different advanced tiers from basic classes. For example when players cross between a rogue and a sorcerer disciple or even a tier 3 arcanist. This game is designed where there is no intended set class, and players can choose how they want to play without being locked into one role.

The remaster does not change much to the game, aside from some smaller or underlying changes like most remasters do. Many complain that the game is the same, but that is the difference between a remaster and a remake. So for players that were looking for major changes, this is not the game for you. The graphics are a lot sharper compared to the original game, and a lot more contrast and detail were added making the game look crisper than the first. Level lock no longer exists like the first game and the experience reward system has been changed to further balance the game. Loot is also now more catered to your designed character instead of randomly generated so players will find use in most of what they pick up. Load times are one complaint I found often from other players, but that is more based on the platform gamers are playing on. I played on my PS5 and honestly found no issues.

The only changes I would have liked to see are in the number of overwhelming fetch quests. I loved side content when it comes to any RPG, especially open-world RPGS. However, this game is filled to the brim with side quests and tasks, especially fetch quests. When players visit towns, they are immediately bombarded with on average 4 to 5 quests that are split between menial tasks (slaying monsters or gathering items), and helping out NPCs with missing persons or aiding in their troubles. This would not be a problem with there were not like 10 towns in the immediate area and players also have their faction quests. As some players might overlook this and skip some quests, completionists like myself end up pulling their hair out. It also can end up extremely overbearing for new players. Trimming down on some of this redundant quests would have been a better balance for this remastered version.

To revisit the visuals and performance, the game can be a bit buggy. For example, I got major Oblivion vibes when an NPC randomly glitched in front of me and I saw nothing but this head and arms in the sky. Overall though the performance is solid, and the animations look clear and crisp. The music creates an even better calm atmosphere, immersing players into what can be described as the ultimate fantasy experience. I also have had no framerate issues with the game which is oddly something I was expecting.

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In conclusion, I loved this remastered version of the game. Kingdoms of Amalur was already a fantastic ARPG for its time, and to be able to revisit this title was not only nostalgic but also very enjoyable. The subtle changes greatly improve players’ experiences with the game while also keeping its classic playstyle that was popular for that period of time. Though the game can be a bit buggy like many RPGs can be, and there were not many changes as far as visuals go, this was a great remaster and I can’t get enough from it. 

DVS Score: 8/10

The Protagonist EX-1 Review

The Protagonist: EX-1 was published by 3Mind Games in October 2020 and is still in beta. Available on PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox it is a turn-based action-adventure role-playing strategy game.

The game takes place in the year 2113E on the planet Terra. A utopia with a totalitarian society under military control. There is only one government called Council that controls the world in secrecy.  For the first time in known history, the government has an enemy that they tried to hide from society but, now they are at war with them. The government has issued an EX-1 order to eliminate all hostiles at all costs. You are a part of the team sanctioned to carry out the order. Not long after you get your papers to fly out, your team is captured and killed. You have to survive, find the rest of your teammates, and get off their ship. 

The gameplay is pretty linear. You have a guide leading you from one task to the next and you pretty much have free range to explore but, early on there isn’t much to find. The first task is to find your teammate Radical and you have no weapons so combat is melee … with a twist. You have abilities because you and your team are cyborgs or super-engineered humans. It’s not explained much early in the game. You get into your first fight pretty quick and it explains the different ways you can fight but not how to execute them so it’s pretty much trying different things and see what works. Fighting is turn-based, not my favorite kind of gameplay but it has its perks.  So right off the bat, your choices are movement, melee fighting (called MACS), putting up a shield/healing, sabotage, and hacking the enemy. So it seems the enemy is also a synthetic being. As you play through the game you gain access to more weapons like knives, grenades, handguns, and more. Sometimes you can even use the environment in your fight to your advantage.  The fighting was a little stale for me but it wasn’t hard to pick up once you figured it out. Enemies usually go down in one or two hits so fighting is pretty quick until there are multiples or the kinda miniboss you fight after meeting up with your comrade but that’s for later.

The graphics for the game were beautiful to me. The cutscenes were well placed and the commentary amongst the characters was great if not a little stereotypical. The way the characters moved was very realistic and well planned down to the hand gestures. The main characters that I got to meet while playing Angel, the captain and main protagonist the characters follow, Radical, a Scottish Knife-wielding member of the crew, and Buddy, a dog that seems to have enhancements due to experimentation. Together you fight to get yourself off this ship and back to Pilot, the voice of your savior and teammate in space. 

There is also a crafting element to the game to create weapons and enhance them to add a little more to the game and I greatly enjoyed playing with it. As you collect scrap and crafting recipes you gain more items to create in your arsenal. Of course, the item you create can only be used by the characters with that affinity. The higher your skill with the proposed weapon the better as well. Increasing your base stats gives you an edge in battle as well. The more you play the more enemies you encounter which makes you have to add strategy in more to ensure you and your team survive. So play wisely and use the strength of your team to the fullest. 

After spending time playing the game I enjoyed it but it can get better. I can’t wait to see how the game grows as it moves through its beta testing and on to the world.

DVS Game Rating 7.5/ 10 

Marvel’s Spiderman PS4 Review

Marvel’s Spiderman is everything you can expect and want out of a video game and more. Between swinging with webs throughout the city, Pete’s clap backs while decimating enemies, and learning new abilities I was thoroughly impressed at how well the game succeeds in making you feel like you are the character. Not only was the story incredible, but it even planted the seeds for Spiderman Miles Morales perfectly. This story has endless content for players and is one of the best open-world action role-playing games I’ve played in a long time. I haven’t had this much fun in playing a superhero game since the Batman Arkham Trilogy, and I can not wait to see what Miles Morales will have to offer. Marvel’s Spiderman was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. This game is purchasable on PlayStation Network for the PS4 and the PS5 normally for 39.99 USD, but right now you can get it on sale for 19.99 thanks to the spring sale. 

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What I loved so much about this game was not only did you just play as Spiderman, but you also got a lot of time to play as Peter Parker and his allies. You get a good amount of time as Peter between assisting Aunt May at FEAST, and even in the lab with Doctor Octavius in creating robotic life-like prosthetics. One thing I have to mention is how well this game presents itself and sets a bar above other superhero games, and that’s the stress that I felt as having a secret identity. The overall impact I felt like Peter in trying to protect the ones he loves but not being able to tell them was overwhelming.

MJ is the only one who knows and honestly was a godsend in helping as a partner in balancing his life and making hard decisions, though she also tended to stress me out with her bold actions and the tension of their romantic feelings. Side character missions were also executed flawlessly and had seamless transitions for the story. Not only did I get to experience character development, but I also found myself having to use my wits to get through stressful situations with MJ and Miles. I felt firsthand the support system that Peter unknowingly built around himself, and I applaud Insomniac for such great storytelling.

Character development was also phenomenal with the villains of the story. Insomniac showed enough restraint, but also laid the seeds perfectly with every action Spiderman committed. I felt myself pondering between the right things to do for each situation. For example, at the beginning of the game, Kingpin advises he is a necessary evil to keep others at bay, and honestly without too many spoilers the consequences that unfold from his removal left not only Peter pondering his choices but for me as the player too.

As the city breaks out into chaos, different groups such as Fisk’s men, the Demons, Prisoners, and even Sable Troop takes apart the city claiming territories throughout New York. The life-like 1:1 scale of New York in the game felt surreal as you see it slowly change over time with each new terrorist group. I also loved watching truths unfold from Mr. Negative’s past and Osbourne’s dirty secrets, as well as feeling the heartbreak after watching Doctor Octavius deteriorate.

The side content was plentiful and was great in not overwhelming or underwhelming players that wanted to 100 percent the game. The side quests had a good mix-up between lengthy dilemmas with bone-chilling twists and small fetch quests to give players a small break for quick experience. Collectibles were abundant and unlocked cool new suits or abilities for players such as the dark suit for doing the Black Cat’s stakeouts or the Homemade Suit for finding every landmark. I also enjoyed that purchasing other suits required tokens from taking down crime bases, stopping petty crimes in the city from criminals and sable, and challenges from the Task Master.

Each challenge or base could be replayed until you completed every tier or bonus challenge to get your rewards, while crimes capped at around 5 per area on average. Early game base takedowns could take a while and feel a bit too tedious, which is why I recommend players wait until late game to grind them out. Bases no matter which faction are 6 waves long with 10 plus enemies each round. The challenges for the base tokens will often consist of webbing enemies to walls, shocking them, or even electrifying them with abilities that are unlocked late game anyway. Tasks were a bit easier but also helped players work on improving with the gameplay. Drone missions helped accuracy in moving around with speed and web-slinging, combat challenges helped to max out their combos, and stealth challenges taught players how to maximize their efficiency between different stealth takedown styles. Overall, as a completionist, I had a field day getting the platinum for this game because despite being easy to get the game did well to make all of the side content not only fun but enticing.

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Marvel’s Spiderman provides endless content leaving players wanting more. This game was a thrilling adventure that I recommend to all types of players. It’s inviting to those newer or not as good with RPGs and satisfying to experienced players as well. The story is action packed and an emotional experience to take part in for players who crave an immersive narration. Not to mention, you play as the iconic web-slinging pun filled hero Spiderman, and get to fight all of the villains we love so much such as Scorpion and Electro. The visuals are breathtaking, the gameplay is satisfying, and I really could not get enough of this title. Despite some of the bugs I would say this is a near perfect masterpiece and I’m really glad that I picked it up.

DVS Score: 9/10