I think a crucial test of a game’s visual identity is how well it holds up to a demaster. Bloodborne, for instance, manages to remain recognisably and wonderfully itself when you turn it into some kind of PS1-style kart racer, and it’s in no small part down to the talent of both the demaster’s makers and FromSoft’s art team. And hey, perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that applies to other games in the studio’s catalogue too.
Pixel Souls: Demastered is a mod for Dark Souls: Remastered that “changes all textures, icons, fonts, and visual effects into pixel art based on the original game textures.” On top of that, it also puts the game’s sound effects through a fuzzy, lo-fi filter to give the game a “fun, somewhat cursed, ‘retro’ feel.” It was done using author thegreatgramcracker’s own “custom image processing algorithm,” with a little bit of personal input and tweaking from the modder themself. AI wasn’t used for any part of the mod.
It works incredibly well, if you ask me, and turns Dark Souls into a weird PSP version of itself soundtracked by the hottest tunes a sound card from 2005 can handle. Most of those tunes, by the way, are just de-rezzed versions of the original DS soundtrack, but the author secured permission from Soulsborne YouTuber and musician Illusory Wall to use their 8-bit remixes of the Firelink Shrine and Gwyn’s Theme tracks from original Dark Souls. They’re looking for more like those, too, if you happen to have a generous heart and some retro Dark Souls remixes lying around.
Installing the mod is pretty straightforward, you just need to download the main mod file from Nexus Mods and extract the contents over to your Dark Souls: Remastered Steam directory, overwriting whatever files are already in there. If you don’t fancy the low-fi tunes to restore humanity to, you can skip the “sound” folder (do the same for the “font” folder if you don’t want to replace the usual DS fonts, too).
If you want the low quality models for things like your equipment, just download the optional extra file from Nexus and extract that over after you’ve installed the main mod. The author is a little bit iffy on these, though, saying that they’re not all at a quality they’d like just yet. Still, I think they look pretty good for the most part, and I’d recommend installing the whole thing if you’re determined to embark on a low-res Dark Souls playthrough.