Strong opinions and, frankly, poorly behaved commenters have made discussion of difficulty modes something of a third rail in gaming. Still, it's fascinating when designers share their thoughts on the subject, from Nioh 2's producer dissecting the Dark Realm to id Software drawing a line from Doom Eternal to Mario Kart. In the case of Bluepoint's Demon's Souls remake, we finally have a definitive answer on the studio's approach to From Software's legendarily difficult game: though it considered adding an easy mode, it focused on preservation and accessibility concerns instead.
Speaking with The Washington Post on the subject, Bluepoint creative director Gavin Moore explains why the PS5 release is the way it is with regards to difficulty.
"While we've made some changes, our core driving mantra has always been to preserve the spirit and intent of the original creators," Moore says. "While we considered and discussed an easy mode, we ultimately decided it wasn't our place—merely being custodians for this amazing game—to add something that would fundamentally alter its balance."
Reporter Elise Favis notes that Moore gave a slightly different answer to Game Informer on the subject last month, having said "there shouldn't be" difficulty options in the game. Now, with Demon's Souls out in the world and the PS5 UI's tips feature no longer shrouded in embargoes, Moore can actually expand on what Bluepoint did in lieu of making easier modes: 180 tip videos, new accessibility options, and utilizing features like the PS5's 3D audio to both dazzle players and subtly layer in more information.
In his review of the remake for USG, contributor John Learned notes the ways in which Bluepoint does stick to the original Demon's Souls—the gameplay is indeed mostly unchanged—and the ways it does not. "Faithful" might not be an apt descriptor for some of the visual and sound design choices Bluepoint made, but Learned says that in terms of systems, the remake "is the same game we've been playing for the last ten years, only much, much prettier."
Plus, for fans who want new challenges out of Demon's Souls, there are options for that. On top of a world-flipping Fractured Mode that Learned calls a "good compromise" in place of adding a new area to the game, there's also the matter of the mysterious new door that Bluepoint added in Boletaria. If you're new to Demon's Souls, there may not be fresh difficulty options for easing you in, but you're also essentially working from the same place as the Demon's diehards when it comes to unraveling that particular secret.