FromSoftware’s impact on the video game industry can no longer be denied at this point. The studio will forever be immortalized as the makers of the Souls series, which is largely the reason why difficult action-adventure titles became en vogue in the 2010s with the influence of its Dark Souls games likely to be felt for years if not decades to come.
As proof of how influential FromSoftware’s Souls series has become, it has spawned its own subgenre. Soulslike games are video game titles described as being similar in difficulty and/or gameplay to that of FromSoftware’s Souls games.
To celebrate the success of this recently-birthed sub-genre, we’ve rounded up our top 10 soulslike games ever released. And since all of these games are available on Steam, make sure to get some Steam Wallet Codes!
Just a disclaimer, we removed all FromSoftware titles from our list. So, even if Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Bloodborne are shoo-ins, you won’t find such games here. All games here take a hefty amount of inspiration from FromSoftware but weren’t made by the studio.
Think of Dark Souls but in space and you’ve got The Surge.
Deck13’s latest and arguably most popular games series, The Surge, took everything that the developers learned from 2014’s largely forgettable Lords of the Fallen and gave it a huge setting overhaul. The result is a soulslike game that isn’t just difficult for the sake of it.
The Surge is set in a fictional future where robots and drones have pretty much taken over the workforce. The game puts players in the role of a paraplegic named Warren, who, thanks to a botched exoskeleton experiment, finds himself in control of an upgradable and customizable exoskeleton but with the inevitable task of having to fight for his life against evil machines and other bloodthirsty fellow exoskeleton users.
You have to admit, the premise is a nice hook and the gameplay isn’t half-bad. The execution isn’t as tight and smooth as Dark Souls, but it works for the most part. Not to mention, there’s a sequel too that’s better in every way, just in case you ended up loving the first game.
Ultimately, what sets The Surge apart from other soulslike games is that it represents a nice change of pace. It’s set in the future, for one.
Cherry Games’ bug-sized (pun intended) Metroidvania platformer proudly wears its inspirations on its sleeve. It uses familiar Dark Souls mechanics like a punishingly difficult but with a rewarding combat system, as well as a “show, don’t tell” approach to storytelling, to immerse players in a world that’s quite unlike any other.
Hollow Knight first launched on the PC in 2017 and was a strong contender for the Game of the Year award from multiple publications. The same thing happened in 2018 when it launched on other platforms. This only speaks to just how good of a game Hollow Knight is, with its insect-filled kingdom setting that plays host to an army of cleverly designed insects that can and will kill you if you give them the chance.
Just like Dark Souls, Hollow Knight lures you in with its combat system and atmosphere only to make you fall in love with its imaginative story that will tug at your heartstrings once you get a full grasp at what’s really happening.
Very few games can lay the claim to being even more difficult than Dark Souls. Mortal Shell is one of them.
The 2020 title takes a page out of Dark Soul’s book to create a wonderfully complicated combat system that rewards skills and patience. It is that last bit that a lot of players struggle with. Thus, why many consider Mortal Shell more difficult than Dark Souls. But, if you take the time to learn the Harden system and when to time it right, Mortal Shell becomes much more forgiving.
Make no mistake. Mortal Shell remains a stressful and challenging affair through and through. In addition to this, it shares the same vague and atmospheric quality that has come to define the Dark Souls games.
Ashen is what happens if FromSoftware spent more time crafting the multiplayer aspect of the Dark Souls games and made sure that it worked most of the time.
Unfortunately, for a co-op game, Ashen’s online community is pretty much dead at this point. This is why we highly recommend playing Ashen with a friend. Then again, playing it with a complete and total stranger would’ve been ill-advised.
Anyway, Ashen isn’t afraid to take away the combat and progression system of the Dark Souls series. Similar to its inspiration, Ashen rewards strategic play, and careful thinking, giving players a vast open-world to explore with someone else so long as they both have the skills and teamwork to overcome all challenges.
Titan Souls is a soulslike game and not just because of its name. This oddball of a title revolves entirely around boss fights. Not only that, but in these fights, both you, the player and the boss you’re up against, can and will die from just one hit. The only difference is that you die from nearly everything that can hit you. On the other hand, the bosses have this one “weak point” that you’ll have to hit.
Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. The game ups the ante by giving you only two abilities: rolling and letting loose a single arrow. What this means is that you’ll have to make sure that each shot counts by paying attention to the boss to see what its weakness is.
Unfortunately, Titan Souls is all about boss fights. If you prefer to explore and go on an adventure, Titan Souls definitely isn’t for you.
The Nioh games are Koei Tecmo’s take on the whole soulslike genre and, for the most part, both games have been a huge hit.
Set in Sengoku Japan and London, Nioh takes you on missions located in either snowy mountains, castles, and/or mines, among others, where you get to go on a murderous rampage against creatures the likes of which simple words just cannot describe. But, what is perhaps harder than describing the monstrosities that you’re up against is how you’re going to kill them.
A true soulslike game, Nioh has a wide array of enemies for you to fight against. Each of them can kill you if you’re not careful and the bosses won’t hesitate to slice your head off.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that Nioh is hiding secrets behind wells. Well, it does. It’s just that, unlike in the Souls games, in Nioh, those walls can and will hit back. Fittingly enough, showing a polite gesture to these eyeballs might sometimes just make them give you some slack and let you pass.
Darksiders 3 is a hack and slash title. Yet, it’s also a soulslike game.
Now, before you go ballistic on us, hear us out first: Darksiders 3 was released years after the first two Darksiders games. At the time, the developers, Gunfire Games, had time to listen to all the feedback from previous titles. The result was a much more difficult game that rewarded players for methodical play and punished those who failed to exercise patience in every combat scenario.
Of course, Darksiders 3 is still, well, a Darksiders game. It hasn’t forgotten its roots one bit. The environmental puzzles are as much a part of Darksiders 3 as they were in previous mainline Darksiders games.
If you prefer your Soulslike “fun” and with more personality, we recommend giving Darksiders 3 a try.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order won’t strike you as a soulslike at first glance. It’s far too flashy for that. The force-assisted parkour and lightsaber battles feel like they don’t belong in such a bleak and gruesome genre. However, if you peel back its colorful sci-fi layers, Fallen Order is just as much of a soulslike as the other games on our list.
The most difficult battles in Fallen Order require players to develop an intimate understanding of how each enemy moves and what to do to avoid getting hit. Knowing when to block and when to dodge is crucial if you want to win. Not to mention, just like FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fallen Order requires careful execution of lowering down the stun meter of opponents to land the perfect block and strike.
With a genre-staple penchant for secrets, Fallen Order is a true soulslike game that ranks among the best.
Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary scratches the Dark Souls itch quite unlike any other 2D game. It subs in salt as a currency for downing enemies, which you also lose whenever you die. It even has the same dark and depressing aesthetic that the Souls games have come to relish. On top of it all, Salt and Sanctuary delivers a convoluted story by means of cryptic dialogue and other player-crafted messages.
Naturally, Salt and Sanctuary has some pretty epic boss battles too. You’ll have to spend time learning the weaknesses and attack patterns of each boss to know how to execute dodge rolls and which gear to wear to walk away alive.
Yet, despite being so much like a Souls game, Salt and Sanctuary still manages to separate itself enough to feel less like a clone and more like one that merely takes inspiration.
The Souls games are the last thing you ever think about when you talk isometric games. Yet, that’s exactly what teedoubleuGAMES did with Immortal Planet.
The game is set in a fantasy world with heavy sci-fi elements. But, of course, you’re not here for the story nor the environment. You’re here for the gameplay, and Immortal Planet has that in spades.
You’d think that using an isometric perspective to depict a combat system that requires patience and skill won’t be ideal, but you’d be wrong. Immortal Planet borrows Nioh’s stamina management system and lets you take advantage of the enemy’s stamina bar to give yourself an edge in combat.
If nothing else, Immortal Planet is a budget-priced Souls game that you can get for a couple of bucks and play for a few hours to keep yourself entertained.
As the gaming industry continues to progress, we’ll probably see more and more Soulslike games appear which is always a good and fun time. It’s frustrating to keep dying, but once you get through that level or boss battle that seems impossible, life feels good. Truly a God-like feeling.
Anyways, make sure to leave a comment on what games you think are rather soulslike in nature or share your experience with these games below!
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