Dark Souls is a cult classic. It’s considered one of the best game franchises out there. I was never part of the Souls bubble and was jealous of the Soulsborne fans claiming that their preference was a masterpiece.
After trying it out, it’s evident that Dark Souls holds prestige, but it’s brutal, punishing, and arduous. Still, Dark Souls isn’t the only gem out there. Check out 8 other games like Dark Souls, inspired by the Soulsborne formula.
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Xbox, Android, PlayStation
While a 2D platformer, in essence, Hollow Knight shares some Dark Souls elements at its core. Like Dark Souls, Hollow Knight doesn’t hold your hand. It’s pretty difficult and punishes you for dying again and again.
It follows the dark and grim aesthetic of Dark Souls. At their core, both are entirely different genres. But Hollow Knight still draws inspiration from Soulsborne games, throwing you into a hostile alien world where you slowly piece together information to untangle the hidden lore.
Bosses are incredibly hard. And the scale of the, albeit 2D, world is massive. It’s uncaring and way past its prime. The game captures the essence of Dark Souls in the shape of a 2D platformer, and it keeps reminding you that the world is not made for you but inhabited by you.
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Luna, Microsoft Windows
Mortal Shell is another Soulsborne-inspired game. Developed by Cold Symmetry, Mortal Shell captures the lifelessness of Dark Souls better than the franchise. Is it fun? Hell no. Mortal Shell is insanely difficult when you first start off.
It captures the bleakness of its jarring world better than Dark Souls ever did. You’re a creature by the name of the Foundling that inhabits shells offering their own set of perks. Combat is quite identical and so are the movement mechanics.
But let’s move to the in-game content. There’s not a lot of variety and equipment to seek out because this isn’t a FromSoftware game. Mortal Shell was developed by a small team. The bosses are uninspiring. Yet, original mechanics like hardening were a pretty interesting addon.
It’s free on Game Pass. Mortal Shell is initially frustrating but ultimately rewarding.
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Microsoft Windows
Code Vein is if God Eater met Dark Souls. The story is pretty normal. It’s like your everyday edgy anime. You’d either love it or hate it for the plot. Like Dark Souls, the game world has a bleak and gritty atmosphere to it.
As for the combat, it’s kind of floaty and slippery, to say the least. To truly understand you’ll have to play it. Granted, Code Vein doesn’t have the weighted combat you’d see in Dark Souls, and it isn’t Hack n’ Slash either. Gameplay is pretty standard, the level design is okay, and the Blood Code System offers nothing to complain about.
The map design could’ve been better. You’re either met with linear corridors with the occasional fork in the road or either maze-like labyrinths.
I’d rate it two Niohs out of Dark Souls 2
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation
It’s pretty obvious that Nioh would make it onto the list. Nioh draws loads of inspiration from Dark Souls or Soulsborne games, but in Niohs favor, it’s so much more than that. Unlike Dark Souls, which dominates world-building, enemy design, and weighty combat, Nioh falls flat with a not-so-inspiring level and map design.
But here’s where it stands apart from Dark Souls. It’s the incredible combat system that ups the ante in terms of depth. Nioh and Team Ninja did a spectacular job at filling the void that Dark Souls left behind with their amazing Samurai-themed RPG.
Nioh liberally and bravely borrows from different franchises the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Dark Souls, but rather than falling flat, it raised the bar of Soulslike games.
Demon Souls Remake
Release Date: November 12, 2020
Platforms: PlayStation 5
Here are my two cents on the Demon Souls Remake. It does world-building and level design much better than Dark Souls too. It has a more open feel to it than other Soulsborne games, but again, it’s just my two cents!
Demon Souls Remake takes the original game and experience and improves upon it exponentially. Truth be told, Demon Souls is much more forgiving than Dark Souls. Where you’d normally have to memorize tens of moves for a boss and another ten for phase 2, the boss move sets are relatively minimal even in Phase 2.
Demon Souls basically carried itself as the go-to launch title for the PlayStation 5, providing an incredible amalgamation of storytelling, visuals, haptic feedback, soundtrack, and audio design.
Release Date: May 24, 2015
Bloodborne follows the same philosophy as Dark Souls, yet goes out of its way to differentiate itself mechanically, aesthetically, and combat-wise. But it’s still a Soulslike game at its core. Like Dark Souls, the world-building and level design are top-notch, with jumpscares around every corner.
Initially, combat feels similar to Dark Souls, but soon gears up for faster combat, relying on dodge rolls instead of blocking and shields. And the enemies follow suit. Bloodborne lies somewhere between Dark Souls 1 and 2, in the sense that the world is extremely interconnected like DS1 but a stark improvement over Dark Souls 2.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Release Date: May 22, 2019
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox, PlayStation,
If you thought Bloodborne was fast, then Sekiro will have you rolling on your floor with its unapologetic and punishing combat. Although Sekiro shares its DNA with other Soulsborne games, Dark Souls included, the fundamental changes in the sword-fighting combat provide an altogether fresh experience.
Bosses and enemies are intimidating, leaving you quaking in your feet, but the small fry variety was less impressive, having dealt with repetitive enemy types. FromSoftware nailed Sekiro and the Sengoku aesthetic and combat with a posture gauge, deflect mechanic, and stealth combat.
To be fair, Sekiro feels more difficult than Dark Souls at times with a more focused approach to exploration, a minimal leveling system, and closed-off boss battles.
Release Date: February 25, 2022
Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Microsoft Windows
Like Dark Souls, you’re thrown into a new world, this time known as The Lands Between. Like other Soulsborne games, Elden Ring doesn’t hold your hand and tell you where to go. But this is more so a feature than a point of complaint.
I didn’t mind getting lost and being punished so horribly at the hands of enemies and bosses, which games like Dark Souls are best known for.
Undeniably, Elden Ring took the FromSoftware formula into overdrive, providing over three Dark Souls worth of game content.
FromSoftware has used the same formula again and again, but every time I think I’m about to get tired of another game like Dark Souls, FromSoftware does something entirely different and shakes up the gaming landscape.
While the Dark Souls trilogy will sit on a throne of praise and prestige for generations to come, new games provide a lot to redevelop and reinvent the Soulsborne formula. Soulslike and Soulsborne games are getting better and better every year, and expectations are at an all-time high for the future. Till then, enjoy these 8 Games Like Dark Souls.