I recently played through the first area of Demon's Souls on my PC at 60 frames per second, which was exciting—because I've never played Demon's Souls, and because it was built to run at only 30 fps when it was released on the PlayStation 3. There is no PC port: I was playing Demon's Souls on PS3 emulator RPCS3, using a patch to dish out those frames at a faster clip. And in the past few weeks, mods have started appearing for Demon's Souls, making this an exciting time to play Dark Souls' predecessor on PC.
In August the RPCS3 emulator blog explained the 60 fps patch, which turned out to be surprisingly simple. "I assumed that a framerate patch for Demon’s Souls must be impossibly difficult since the only 60FPS patch that was made broke the gamespeed and caused everything to run twice as fast. On a complete whim, I decided to try running Demon’s Souls with the new generic FPS unlocking methods by developer eladash," wrote contributor Whatcookie. With the framerate unlocked, Demon's Souls ran at over 200 fps, but the in-game speed was all wrong. Before breakfast the next morning, Whatcookie was able to solve that problem.
"The patch simply changes the amount of time that’s advanced each frame from 33.3ms to 16.7ms. Since the patch is meant to be used with Vblank at 120 which doubles the max framerate, this lets us get a correct game speed at 60FPS. After that, it is then necessary to set Clocks scale to 200 to re-enable the games internal frameskipping at 60FPS."
And voila, 60 fps Demon's Souls. In my testing the patch worked, with animations noticeably smoother than they would be at 30 fps. Performance wasn't perfect for me—the emulator had to do a lot of caching since I was playing Demon's Souls for the first time, and I probably didn't have RPCS3 configured optimally. That meant I got frequent frame drops from 60 fps, especially in large, geometry-heavy areas. But the video above is proof enough that the 60 fps patch can run very well. At 4K, no less!
The 60 fps patch may have kicked off a small Demon's Souls revival, as a hub for the game popped up on Nexus Mods and 11 mods from two modders have appeared in the past nine days. There are mods that tweak game difficulty, and there's a "vaporwave graphics pack" that gave me a good laugh. But the most interesting mods are designed specifically to fix issues that appear in emulating Demon's Souls through RPCS3: the Lens Flare Fix, High Resolution Font and Gray Outline Removal.
Demon's Souls runs well in RPCS3, but its lens flare isn't rendered properly, and its bloom can be overkill in some areas. The first mod aims to fix those issues. The other two mods fix problems inherent in rendering older games at higher resolutions: 3D scales up well, but stretching 2D assets like the font and UI can end up blurry or introduce new problems.
Demon's Souls came out in 2009, and since then the Dark Souls trilogy has skyrocketed developer From Software to fame and acclaim. It's surprising Demon's Souls hasn't gotten a remaster on this generation of consoles, but even if it is eventually remastered, it may never come to PC, due to Sony's involvement in development and publishing.
For now, anyway, thanks to these mods and patches, emulating Demon's Souls is easily the best way to play it.