Five Games Every Dark Souls Fan Should Play
From Software has said before, following the release of Dark Souls III and its two DLC expansions, it is officially taking a break from the Dark Souls franchise, which means it is very possible we will never again get to play a new Souls series game from the studio.
It’s a sad realization to be sure, but fortunately for fans of the genre, there are several other development studios willing to step into the void left by From Software and create their own games that, while not exactly like the Souls franchise, still retain much of the series’ iconic DNA. Below are five games that you will likely enjoy if you consider yourself to be even a passing fan of the more established Souls IP.
Team Ninja is no stranger to the art of making difficult yet engaging games, having pioneered the infamously difficult Ninja Gaiden series, so it’s probably not too surprising to hear the studio took a stab at its own Souls-like game in the form of Nioh. A simple way to describe Nioh would be to say it’s a Souls game set in feudal Japan, but that would be doing the game a disservice. Nioh’s fast-paced combat, unique melding of real-life historic figures and magic, and deceptively deep ancillary gameplay systems make it a game that has to be directly experienced if you want to fully appreciate it. For more on Nioh, you can read our review of the game here.
Immortal Planet’s purposefully vague story, punishing gameplay, and deliberate-feeling combat system will look immidiatly familiar to a Souls fan, but it also manages to establish its own identity thanks to its grim sci-fi setting and isometric camera perspective. If your favorite part of the Souls games was figuring out their hidden mysteries all while trying to avoid getting skewered by an enemy’s sword, you should absolutely check Immortal Planet out. For more on the game, you can read our recent review here.
The Dark Souls series can certainly be immersive and engaging, but, at times it can also be needlessly complex and overtly dark (hah) in its presentation. For a bit of lighter fare that doesn’t bog you down with a screen full of stats and modifiers, Titan Souls is a game we’d highly recommend. The premise behind Titan Souls is pretty simple: your character awakes on the edge of a mysterious temple and must use their bow and arrow to defeat the temple’s resident guardians (the titular Titans) and uncover its secrets.
Boss fights in Titan Souls can be intense, but that’s only because both the boss and the player must abide by the same rule: one hit and you’re dead. Each boss fight plays out like a sort of fast-paced puzzle with the player having to figure out how they can get a clean shot at the boss’s weak point without getting killed themselves. Combine that with exploration elements and scenery that remind one of old-school Zelda games and it’s easy to see why Titan Souls is both a fitting ode to the Dark Souls series and also a more accessible entry in the genre.
Salt & Sanctuary
Considering how expansive, moody, and immersive Salt & Sanctuary is, it’s hard to believe that the game’s developer Ska Studios, is made up of only two people: a husband and wife team who clearly enjoyed their own time with the Souls series. Again, Salt & Sanctuary has many of the same gameplay elements as the traditional Souls games: a grim fantasy/horror veneer, a gameplay loop of collecting “Salt” (as opposed to Souls) to upgrade your character, and a larger story that is shrouded in mystery. However, Salt & Sanctuary’s 2D viewpoint also provides an interesting change of pace for those who may be more used to the Dark Souls series’ 3D camera manipulation.
If you’re not entirely sold on the above premise, perhaps our review of Salt & Sanctuary will convince you.
Of course, any list of Souls-esque games isn’t complete without mentioning From Software’s *other* masterpiece: Bloodborne. As you might imagine, Bloodborne borrows heavily from its Dark Souls cousins when it comes to ancillary gameplay, but it is also very much its own beast thanks to its gothic horror setting and emphasis on more direct offense-focused combat. To put it plainly, if you own a PlayStation 4, love the Souls series, and have somehow not yet played Bloodborne, you need to work on fixing that pronto. I can guarantee that if you enjoy the Dark Souls games, you’ll find a whole new love for Bloodborne.