These can be applied in different ways; either games can attempt to emulate the entire formula, or they can simply take elements and apply them in a novel way.
Once you have experienced the rush of a Souls game it is hard to play something that doesn’t replicate that feeling.With that in mind, we have pulled together a list of some of the greatest games that play like Dark Souls.
• World design
14Lords of the Fallen
|Initial Release Date||28 October 2014|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4 and Xbox One|
|Developer||CI Games, Deck 13|
|Publisher||CI Games & Bandai Namco|
Lords of the Fallen is most likely one of the earliest attempts at following the Dark Souls formula and of all the games on the list, this is one of the games that follow the Dark Souls formula most closely.
You are Harkyn, an outcast, and humanity only hope to stop the demonic Rhogar and their brutal god, Adyr. The combat is a 3rd person, stamina-based combat system, where timing is still key but the whole pace of the combat is quite a bit slower than Souls.
There are three starting classes: Warrior, Cleric, and Rogue, which follow the general Strength, Mage and Dexterity build archetypes of Souls games and do offer a good variety of playstyles and gear. The movement can feel a little too clunky and unresponsive at moments, but just takes some adjustment. The Bosses are limited in number but interesting enough, with the Champion being a particularly fun and memorable boss fight.
The story may appear light on the surface (and it is) but there are some juicy bits of hidden lore that are worth exploring and draw you in a little more. The main failing of the game would be the length of the game and lack of innovation; it is just far too short and doesn’t deliver anything more than a bare-bones (if solid) Souls-like experience.
13 Darksiders III
|Initial Release Date||27 November 2018|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4 & Xbox One|
Once again we take command of a horseman of the apocalypse; Fury the hot-headed warrior who finds herself in the middle of a cosmic conspiracy. As the apocalypse is unleashed upon humanity and War is wrongly convicted, Fury is sent to earth to hunt down and contain the 7 Deadly Sins who have been freed from their prison.
More so than previous entries, Darksiders III moves closer towards the Dark Souls RPG formula; for starters, Fury’s health does not regenerate and she must use a limited use healing item to regenerate her health. The combat and boss fights aren’t anything that unique, it’s a classic dodge and strike system with the only difference being you need to learn each boss’ move set.
The game is linear in its progression and while many areas aren’t that special, the story itself is full of Gothic and Christian lore and will appeal to those who love the setting of Diablo. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the table it will be an appealing adventure for those who love the series and 3rd person RPGs.
|Initial Release Date||7 February 2017|
|Platform||Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows|
|Publisher||Koei Temco & Sony Interactive Entertainment|
Fancy Dark Souls and Onimusha rolled into one? Then Nioh is the game for you as you take command of the legendary samurai, William Adams, who finds himself in conflict with the demonic while the chaos of the Sengoku era rages around him.
The story isn’t wildly complex, but it is gritty and it blends Japanese folklore and real-world history of the Sengoku era masterfully. The demonic enemies that you face are beautifully designed but are limited in variety and by the end of the game, you will have faced the same creatures many, many times.
The combat is one of the areas where Nioh distinguishes itself from the formula; alongside a variety of weapons, William also has 3 different stances that he can enter into that changes the properties and move sets of his attack.
There is also the ‘Guardian Spirit’ system which allows you to select an elemental guardian that provides William with passive benefits and a living weapon special power.
Nioh offers a fast pace, bloody adventure through medieval Japan that will draw players in with the setting and making them stay for the combat mastery and loot pool.
11 Salt and Sanctuary
|Initial Release Date||15 March 2016|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Linus, Nintendo Switch and macOS|
Washed aboard a mysterious and uncharted island, the protagonist of Salt and Sanctuary must fend themselves against savage beasts and explore mysterious locations. Upon your awakening, you begin to explore your surroundings, a beautifully hand-painted 2D world, where everything is out to kill you.
The influences of Dark Souls on this game are readily apparent and applied to the 2D genre, whilst also maintaining its style. Instead of Bonfires, you have sanctuaries and one of the cool things about these is that their aesthetics are dependent on your choices. Instead of covenants, you have ‘creed’ which represent your beliefs and each different creed provides craftables, bonuses and a sanctuary aesthetic.
The combat plays out much like a Metroidvania title and relies on the player learning the times and rhythm of each boss and enemy. There are a variety of weapons and a sprawling skill tree for you to sink your teeth into and is a 2D dream for fans of Dark Souls and Metroid.
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|Initial Release Date||7 December 2018|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Playstation 4 [December 2019 release] & Nintendo Switch [December 2019 release]|
In Ashen, you are a wanderer who is searching for a place to call home. Light has been restored by the ‘Ashen’s’ rebirth and you must protect that light as well as help rebuild society by developing relationships and rescuing survivors from the blasted plains you explore. While Ashen follows the classic stamina-based gameplay of Dark Souls, it has its distinct charm and style that sets it apart.
While this combat will feel familiar, the openness of the world is very different from the interconnected worlds of the Souls games. You are free to explore this world as you please, find survivors and conquer caverns.
One of the pillars of the game is ‘The Town’ which, firstly serves as your hub, but more importantly reflects your progress and the decisions that you will make. As you save characters and invite them to join your village, dwellings will be erected, and it will become a place of light in the twilight. That is the true magic of Ashen.
|Initial Release Date||10 September 2019|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Linux, Mac & Microsoft Windows|
|Developer||The Game Kitchen|
|Publisher||Team 17 Digital Limited|
Blasphemous is not only an incredible Metroidvania but also ranks highly as a game that takes inspiration from the Souls series. In this 2D side scroller, you play as the Penitent One who undertakes a bloody pilgrimage across the crumbling land of Cvstodia.
Blasphemous borrows the Dark Souls formula for exploring and dying; instead of a ‘Bonfire’, you will rest at a ‘Prie Dieu’ and when you die, instead of hollowing, you are reborn from the heavens carried by cherub-like beings. Cvstodia is also an interconnected joy to explore, with backtracking and shortcuts that will open upon the world as you progress.
Whilst the platforming can be a tad punishing at times, the combat is where Blasphemous shines and will appeal to any Souls fans who yearn for some weighty and tight combat.
The bosses will also delight fans, being tragic, majestic and pathetic all at the same time. This grim and gothic adventure is a perfect stepping-stone from Souls to Metroidvania.
8 Remnant: From the Ashes
|Initial Release Date||20 August 2019|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One, & Microsoft Windows|
|Publisher||Perfect World Entertainment|
Where Immortal: Unchained failed, Remnant: From the Ashes very much succeeds; creating a bold new take on the Dark Souls formula. You take the role of one of the surviving human remnants, where you will face down the cosmic threat known as ‘The Root’, a gestalt hive mind race of tree-like creatures from another dimension.
The game does not just gamble on the 3rd person shooter gameplay but it also creates a unique dynamic by procedurally generating the entire campaign world.
Each of the four planets (zones) will be randomized when you create a new game. You will explore new dungeons, navigate roads, fight different bosses and, incredibly, witness completely different NPC encounters. This keeps the game fresh and it is really exciting on your second playthrough when you find a ‘cult’ in the sewers that you have never seen on previous playthroughs.
The gameplay does have its flaws, especially on a controller but overall the shooter horde aspects of the game are fluid and fast-paced. The bosses also translate well into a shooter game, even though the mobs can interrupt the flow of a boss fight. Despite this, the bosses are well designed and memorable, my favorite being Ixillis, a giant insect guardian which you need to defeat by managing your limit space on a rope bridge.
Remnant is a refreshing take on the Dark Souls formula and while it does have a few blemishes, it takes a risk and has set the bar for more Souls shooters.
7 The Surge 2
|Initial Release Date||24 September 2019|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One, & Microsoft Windows|
|Publisher||Focus Home Interactive|
Taking the genre to a new setting, the Surge series replaces knights and demons for AI and robots making it stand out from most other entries on this list. The Surge 2 is set in Jericho City at a time when humanity has inevitably drained the planet of all resources and the few remaining corporations take desperate actions to reverse the decay.
The story deals with the Nanite scourge that has been inadvertently released and while it is serviceable, it is not the main draw of the game. Jericho itself is an interesting city, as each sector and district feel distinct and will certainly keep you engaged. Much like Dark Souls the game’s world is fun to explore, with shortcuts and secrets around every corner.
The combat is the main of the game. The usual lock on stamina-based combat is augmented by a large variety of sci-fi weapons and the severing system. The latter allows you to target certain body parts and earn armor schematics. The bloody and fast-paced combat and the unique setting make the Surge 2 a worthy addition to your wishlist.
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6 Hollow Knight
|Initial Release Date||24 February 2017|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Nintendo Switch & MacOS|
Hollow Knight is the king of Metroidvania, a game that combines slick combat and platforming with an atmospheric world that goes straight to the heart. You take control of the ‘Knight’ who has wandered into the fallen kingdom of Hallownest, and like the dilapidated kingdom of Lordran, it is a sprawling interconnected world that is packed with detail and mysteries.
Exploration in Hollow Knight will feel familiar to Dark Souls players, instead of Bonfires, you have benches which will save your progress and act as a checkpoint if you die. Boss encounter set pieces will also feel like the set pieces of Dark Souls and are just as thrilling and memorable.
Hollow Knight very much is its own game. The story is original, and the setting is both heart-warming and tragic. The NPCs that you meet in your journey through the dilatated kingdom are endearing and will make you care about their struggles and triumphs.
All of these features are accentuated by the games washed-out palette and the haunting music that will stay with the player for days after you have beaten it.
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5Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
|Initial Release Date||22 March 2019|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows|
FromSoftware breaks from their usual RPG formula to deliver a ‘Souls-like’ linear adventure game, which redefined their approach to combat and storytelling. Sekiro presents the tale of a crumbling dynasty in the bloody Sengoku era through the eyes of a shinobi who finds himself caught up in the claws of destiny.
The result is a dramatic journey through an incredibly crafted backdrop which, is firmly based on reality, but still has that classic FromSoftware sense of grandeur and tragedy.
The direct storytelling of Sekiro will be a welcome change of pace to some, as it delivers much of the story through exposition, dialogue, and cutscenes. This is very different from the environmental story-telling and obscure lore chasing of games past. It is decidedly more linear and while there is an element of choice in terms of your path of progression the set path is far more present here.
The combat and movement are Sekiro’s main innovation. Instead of the dodge and poke stamina-based combat, Sekiro does away with stamina altogether and implements its signature ‘posture-break’ system. This mechanic relies upon Sekiro and opponents crossing blades until enough ‘posture’ damage has been done, opening the foe to a death blow. The result is a more ‘realistic’ clashing of swords and by far is the best combat on this list.
In a lot of ways, Sekiro feels like a test project by FromSoftware to trial some new ideas and systems but these mostly pay off, making Sekiro a challenging must play for all Souls enthusiasts.
4Monster Hunter: World
|Initial Release Date||26 January 2018|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows|
A classic franchise returns, revamped and more accessible in the form of Monster Hunter: World, a 3rd person action game that sees you prepare, stalk and then hunt hulking monsters in the New World.
MHW’s gameplay cycle is so iconic and addictive. You prepare for your hunt by upgrading your equipment, tailoring your loadout for the beast that you are hunting. You have a meal and then set out into the wide world, to find and kill your target.
The simplicity of this concept is complemented by a robust crafting system, as each unique beast yields crafting materials that you can use to craft certain armors and items. This means you can target specific hunts to grind out the specific gear that you’d like.
Like many others on this list, the combat will feel like an old pair of boots for Souls veterans, as another 3rd person stamina-based combat system that relies upon dodging and countering appropriately. It is the monsters themselves who are the stars of the show here, each variety offers a unique experience, akin to a Souls boss encounter, mixed in with hunting elements that make for a must-play experience.
|Initial Release Date||27 September 2019|
|Platform||Playstation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows|
|Developer||BANDAI NAMCO Studios|
|Publisher||BANDAI NAMCO Studios|
Affectionally referred to as ‘Anime Souls’ by the community, Code Vein places the player in control of a ‘Revenant’ (a vampire) in a dystopian future where the world has begun to crumble due to an event called the ‘Great Calamity’.
Revenants were produced to help humanity combat monsters from around the world and there were a few issues with this experiment. As the revenants fall to their bloodthirst, the world is being overrun by mindless Revenants known as the Lost.
Those who spend hours in the character creation screen will be right at home in Code Vein which boasts one of the most robust customization screens that this gamer has ever seen. The crafting of your unique character will have you 100% invested in their story, as they seek to overcome the loss.
The gameplay very much feels like a cross between God Eater 3 and Dark Souls, and it offers a smooth fluid system that feels slick, whether you are using a great axe or a rapier. The bosses are sublime and every single one is lovingly designed, beautifully animated and challenging to boot. Like the Successor of the Ribcage, a gorgeous and majestic wolf with four arms.
Simply put, Code Vein is an artistic masterpiece that benefits from great RPG elements, tight gameplay, and stunning bosses.
|Initial Release Date||5 February 2009|
|Publisher||BANDAI NAMCO & Sony Interactive Entertainment|
The one that started it all. Demon’s Souls is the spiritual predecessor to Dark Souls and much of the features we appreciate as ‘Souls-like’ were trialed in this 2009 PS3 exclusive. While the game didn’t garner as widespread acclaim as Dark Souls did, it was an instant cult classic that was praised for its rewarding challenge and world-building.
King Allant’s kingdom of Boletaria has had a grey colourless fog sweep over it, and in the fog are terrible Demons. As the Slayer of Demons, you enter this dark land and are quickly killed only to have your spirit form revived in the Nexus and bound to it, meaning you cannot be released from life until your task is complete.
As you travel the different regions to slay the greater demons, you will explore a tortured and broken world. One of my personal favorite locations is ‘The Tower of Latria’ (one of the most atmospheric locations in any game), a once beautiful kingdom that has been transformed into a hellish prison, with the groans of the imprisoned echoing throughout its halls.
The story is darker than Dark Souls, but the gameplay will feel all most the same as Dark Souls 1, with a myriad of interesting and lore heavy bosses to slay and overcome. Despite being the oldest entry on this list, the style and presentation of Demon’s Souls still outclass most in the genre and we would recommend that every Souls fan experience this classic masterpiece.
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|Initial Release Date||24 March 2015|
|Publisher||Sony Computer Entertainment|
We doubt that there will be many who are surprised that the critically acclaimed Bloodborne is the top of this list. As a testimony to the incredible world of Yharnam, Miyazaki himself recently admitted was his favorite to create.
Bloodborne takes the basics of Souls and rebuilds it into a gothic nightmare that is laced with cosmic horror. The night of the hunt has come and as you don your Victorian-era attire and shake off your saw cleaver, you are given but one instruction in the form of a crumpled and cryptic note: “Seek Paleblood to transcend the hunt”.
With that, you are thrown into winding streets of Yharnam, a gaudy and religious city that is subject to the ‘night of the hunt’. Picking your way through the cobbled streets, you will see fear, prejudice, and madness. The location and atmosphere of Yharnam are sublime, each street corner and village square illustrate the horror of the eldritch hunt and every man and beast is out to kill you.
The combat of Bloodborne is by far the fastest and most aggressive of all the games – you are mockingly given a broken shield, for there will no blocking in this journey. The game rewards aggression and speed. If you are quick enough, you can recover damage taken by landing more hits and time interrupt with your firearm will open the enemy up to a devastating visceral attack.
The boss design in Bloodborne is up there with the best of the list, such as the memorable Ludwig – once a noble warrior, reduced to a vile and gruesome beast whose fate will haunt you for days after you put down the game. Finally, the Chalice Dungeons offer challenge and replayability, as well as somewhere to grind for endgame upgrades. Nothing more needs to be said: play it immediately.
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