Not a new trend, mind you. Successful, popular games have been remastered from older versions for newer consoles almost as long as consoles have existed. The point of a remaster or a remake (which are two different things) is to bring a beloved game experience to a new console, with all of the bells and whistles the newer technology is capable of.
So when a remaster is shown off next to comparison shots of its original release, you expect to see some big differences. Visuals that make your eyes drool. Stuff that has you saying in your head, "I can't wait to play that again!"
Nordic Games currently has studio Gunfire Games deep in the process of remastering a beloved game for a release called Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition, which will be available for PS4 and Xbox One around Christmas time. According to Game Informer, the remastered game is getting new loot distribution, it will release with all available DLC, and some minor balance issues are being fixed. And a visual makeover, of course.
There's only one problem. If the comparison screens Nordic released today are indicative of what players can expect... We advise lowering your expectations.
We've examined the images closely, and while there are some subtle differences, the remastered game looks nearly identical to the original. It's a shame, too, because based on a quote released to media from Gunfire Games' design director John Pearl, it sounds like a great deal of work is going into the remaster.
"...We decided to rewrite the renderer to be physically-based like a lot of other current-generation game engines. What this means visually is metal, leather, stone, and skin look and respond to light as you would expect them to in the real world. This new rendering method meant we revisited every texture and surface in the game, reworking and re-authoring them for the new renderer. To take full advantage of these texture changes, we've also gone back and relit the entire game."
Sounds great on paper, right? So why doesn't the game look... different?
(Original game screens are on top, remastered versions are on the bottom.)
Maybe the developers at Gunfire are seeing something we're not. Maybe it's just impossible to maintain the Darksouls comic book-like aesthetic while increasing the resolution of the textures and whatnot.
Is it just us?
Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition is expected this winter.