Ahh, video game remakes. We live in an era where they feel inevitable. To many players, nothing lasts forever, and as time passes, what was once seen as revolutionary becomes lost when other games come along and refine what the originals innovated. As such, perhaps the best way to counter that is to take an old game and remake it with modern sensibilities so that a new generation can appreciate it as much as older players do.
There are plenty of remakes to look forward to in the future: Resident Evil 4 will receive a new version that should fix the original’s dated tank controls, and Dead Space will be introduced to a legion of players who never experienced the game in the first place. Sony, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to understand the kinds of games that deserve remakes.
Generally, there are three good reasons to remake a game: to fix inherent problems that have come with age, to improve on a game that may not have been great in the first place and help it reach its potential, or to re-introduce a forgotten title/franchise to a new audience. In Sony’s case, though, none of these appear to be happening with their set of remakes.
And this is not meant to talk down to Sony’s quality of games; the PlayStation 5 has been home to some must-play exclusive titles like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. This is also not meant to talk down to the quality of Sony’s remakes, as they have all been pretty successful thus far. But the important point is, it seems that Sony’s remakes are starting to feel successively less necessary as more get announced.
Sony’s journey into the world of remakes kicked off somewhat innocuously in 2018 when the publisher released a remake of Shadow of the Colossus. Handled by Bluepoint Games (who has been a de facto remake/remaster company for years), this took Team Ico’s 2005 PlayStation 2 title and fully rebuilt it from the ground up for PlayStation 4.
It was a rousing success, but at the time, a few small questions were raised about its necessity. After all, Bluepoint Games had just released a remaster on the PlayStation 3 back in 2011. Even if the PlayStation 4 wasn’t backward-compatible with PlayStation 3 games, did Sony and Bluepoint Games waste resources on doing a full remake when they could’ve worked to port the PlayStation 3 remaster to the PlayStation 4?
In this game’s case, though, a full remake didn’t seem as bad. Beyond the fact that Shadow of the Colossus wasn’t compatible with the PlayStation 4 in the first place, the original game’s cult status meant that it could be a good title to re-introduce to players. Plus, the two-generation jump between consoles had the potential to turn this into a new definitive version.
And it did: Shadow of the Colossus was received very positively upon release, to the point of even exceeding the original version. Thus, talks of its necessity subsided, and Sony seemed ready to roll with even more excellent remakes of forgotten games.
In 2020, Sony launched the PlayStation 5 with a remake of Demon’s Souls. The 2009 original, developed by FromSoftware for the PlayStation 3, became a bit lost in the company’s pantheon of game releases once the Dark Souls franchise came along. Furthermore, with the Dark Souls titles being re-issued on eighth-generation platforms, Demon’s Souls never received the same treatment and was always locked on the PlayStation 3.
This was very easily the most necessary remake that Sony’s published in the last few years: the original game was an influential marvel that introduced many conventions that the Souls-like genre would adapt, but was entirely incompatible with the PlayStation 4 thanks to a lack of backward compatibility. Bringing this back would be a good way to re-introduce it to players, fix any dated elements and also allow gamers to appreciate what it brought to the genre before FromSoftware’s modern titles.
It proved to be a technological marvel on the PlayStation 5, and easily one of the system’s most essential games, launch or otherwise. It was a massive improvement that served as a fantastic critical and commercial success, and it played a huge part in Sony’s acquisition of Bluepoint Games in 2021. But just when you thought Sony was in a groove where it can do no wrong, one thing had to come and shoot that notion in the foot.
This year, Sony announced and released a remake of 2013’s The Last of Us, titled The Last of Us Part I. Developed in-house by Naughty Dog, this was the first Sony remake to truly drive a wedge in the community. Thanks to the PlayStation 5 offering PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility, it seemed strange to offer a ground-up rebuilding of a game that was already playable on the new console by virtue of its 2014 eighth-generation remaster. What’s more, even with the release of The Last of Us Part II, the first game didn’t really feel dated enough to need fixing.
Its announcement and release, especially as a full-priced $70 game, led to a bit of backlash toward Sony, and several developers had to come out in its defense. But no matter the amount of detail that went into rebuilding this fantastic game… did it need it? Was the first game not sufficient enough in its remastered form? If the PlayStation 4 version could be played on a PlayStation 5, did we need a full PS5 remake?
Naturally, the game was positively received when it was released, which isn’t too surprising given that it’s a slightly better version of an incredible game. If you take a masterpiece and make it just the tiniest bit better, you’re just making it a little bit more of a masterpiece. But even still, some reviews did discuss the elephant in the room that was its necessity, more so than Sony’s previous remakes. It raised some questions as to whether Sony was looking in the wrong places when it came to re-issuing games.
It appears, though, that the company may be looking to outdo itself in terms of weird re-releases. Rumors have abounded as of late that Horizon Zero Dawn, a 2017 PlayStation 4 title, will be receiving some kind of remake/remaster on the PlayStation 5. Not only are we talking about a five-year-old game that holds up well and can be played on the PlayStation 5 already, but we’re talking about a game that received a next-gen, 60 FPS update last year.
Why? Why is this even a rumor? Even with the recent release of its sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, Zero Dawn still holds up brilliantly. In fact, the PlayStation 5 patch helps it to hold up even better thanks to the smoother frame rate. And don’t get it twisted: Horizon Zero Dawn is a fantastic game, but it is by far one of the least necessary games to receive a remake/remaster, and it’s hard to justify this one.
That isn’t to say arguments haven’t been made; the most notable one is that this and The Last of Us Part I are being made to hype players up for the upcoming TV shows that are being planned. Cross-promotion is certainly one thing, though the fact that these re-creations don’t do much to connect to the shows (or release closer to them) makes that argument feel flimsy.
The other notable argument is that these remakes help keep the developers working between bigger projects. That’s totally valid, but given that the amount of effort going into these remakes feels comparable to one of Sony’s AAA games, it makes you wonder if that time, effort and budget could be put more into the big projects, instead of “distraction titles.”
Furthermore, remakes of titles like The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn have done few favors for Sony in countering the argument that the company only makes emotional, story-driven, third-person, over-the-shoulder action-adventure games. It makes you wonder if Sony could reserve their remake efforts for more diverse franchises that have laid dormant, instead of the ones actively getting new games.
If Sucker Punch is so busy with Ghost of Tsushima, why not let another developer have a crack at inFamous? If Sony really wants to step into the live-service world, maybe that could be a good opportunity to revive Killzone or Resistance? Sony literally owns the studio that made Syphon Filter, why not take another swing at that? Since Team Asobi technically owns the rights now, why not let them give Ape Escape another shot?
Speaking of which, Sony built itself off of platformers back in the day; why not give Sly Cooper and Jak & Daxter another chance in the limelight with games akin to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart? If we’re going off of titles with upcoming TV shows, why not rev up another Twisted Metal game? Or hell, if Sony is really dying to remake something modern from the PlayStation 4 era, why not throw the Bloodborne fans a bone and give them something new?
It feels like Sony is looking for remakes in all the wrong places. As time goes on, these new re-releases are starting to feel more and more unnecessary. It makes you wonder if Sony’s already planning remakes of upcoming titles like God of War: Ragnarök and Spider-Man 2. Or hey, with that God of War TV show coming out, maybe 2018’s God of War might be next for the remake treatment… which is one that it really doesn’t need.
But how are you feeling about Sony’s trend of remakes? Are you excited about them, or do you think these types of games should slow down? Sound off in the comments below.
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