Some Of The Best And Toughest Games
Dark Souls is one of the most teeth clattering, palm sweating, frustration invoking games in the last ten or so years. It is also the most rewarding, catharsis inducing role playing experience for those with enough grit to overcome any boss, level, and objective. As a result, Dark Souls inspired a new genre of action roleplaying game that has been a major part of this new generation of knuckle clenching intensity and cathartic victories.
These games share and take on several elements from their respective inspiration. A delicate health bar, a set limit of healing items, and a stamina that is micro-managed with every dodge, block, or attack. Even simple enemy types become an exercise of patience, strategy and experience. There is also freedom in character builds, interactions with NPCs, and an open way to explore the world, which can lead to an unexpected trek through nightmares. Many souls-like games, especially those that are 2D platformers also share gameplay mechanics with the Metroidvania genre.
10. A Bug’s Life in Hollow Knight
A Souls-like, Metroidvania experience with a focus on cute artstyle and anthropomorphic insects. Hollow Knight follows the adventure of a mysterious knight traveling through the ancient ruins of Hallownest, filled with hazards and enemies empowered by strange energy. The game is very much a platformer with free roaming in a massive map to navigate. There are blocking mechanics, evasive movements, and a lot of timing based combat. As the protagonist goes through certain areas and gathers key items, more parts of the map become accessible, emulating the playstyle of Metroid and Symphony of the Night.
The Dark Souls elements start popping in when the knight dies. After death, a shroud remains in the area that guards all the experience points dropped by the death. Health is cut in half indicated by a cracked helmet in the UI and certain aspects of the game are altered until the ex is picked up at the place of death. The story follows the tone and atmosphere of Dark Souls and is full of engaging NPCs including Hornet, an ambivalent warrior that serves as a recurring boss/skill block that tests the knight’s strength as well as trying to find the source of an affliction that’s affected all the denizens of Hallowfest.
9. Vampiric Anime in Code Vein
In a distant future reduced to ruin, survivors of humanity have become vampire-like beings called Revenants, protected by a secret society known as Vein. These revenants need a constant supply of blood found in the broken world or else they lose their human form and mutate into the ravenous beasts known as the Lost. The Lost are undying beasts that are similar in story as the hollow undeads in the original Dark Souls. As one of the many Revenants that are part of the Vein, players must navigate elaborate levels with hazards, the monstrous Lost, and vicious bosses known as the Successors.
This is basically Dark Souls as an anime, from similar mechanics to weapon types and animations. Even the UI is stylized similarly with several better comparisons with God Eater, a monster hunting game made by the same developers. Code Vein has a unique array of enemies that keep the challenge engaging and intense. Healing items are at decent supply and a lot of the fun aspects of the battles are the intensive finishers in combat. The game is ridiculously anime from some of the clothing options, character archetypes, and the customization is near limitless. Though the game feels too much like Dark Souls to have its own unique stamp in the genre.
8. Slaying post-apocalyptic Demons in Remnant 2
Part third person shooter, part beating demons with sharp weapons, Remnant 2 is the sequel to a surprisingly decent twist to the Souls-like genre. An ancient evil known as the Root plummeted the world to apocalyptic chaos, forcing humans to fend for themselves in wards against an encroaching legion of demons. Players control one of these survivors in Ward 13 and work their way up hunting the nightmares of the Root, alone or with a team of three. Much of the story for this game is hidden throughout the game and it’s up to players to navigate through the narrative and piece together all the happenings of this new hellish world.
Remnant 2 has the difficulty and intensity of Dark Souls, the gameplay and item management of Resident Evil, and each level contains procedurally generated sections for good loot and terrifying beasts. The game has an engaging multiplayer system that allows players to team up on the respective boss of the area and there is a robust gear system to help maintain a significant edge against the demons.
7. Navigating The Desolate World Of Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary starts out like many souls-like games, mysterious vistas that hide terrifying threats, a mysterious plot that draws players into the unknown, and several health/stamina systems similar to Dark Souls. Despite the difficulty and similar atmosphere, this game is also well known for being a partial resurgence of the Metroidvania genre with how it plays similar to Symphony of the Night, from unlocking new ways to navigate the environment to discovering key items. Several other inferences to Dark Souls is using salt as the xp and the checkpoint areas known as sanctuaries that help manage the builds of players.
The game takes the 2d action of classic Metroidvanias and mixes it well with the combat flow and dance of Dark Souls and Bloodborne with dodging attacks to strike openings and counters for devastating damage. Enemies generally range from typical hollow-like zombies to monstrous eldritch horrors that are linked to the mysterious circumstances of the island.
6. Battle The Endless In Death’s Gambit
Death’s Gambit takes place in the land of Aldwin, in the Caer Siorai citadel. Expeditions and sent to this unknown land due to the mysterious power of immortality being discovered. Each expedition finds more folk disappearing or out found dead, leaving more mystery and fear. The main protagonist, Sorun, lost his family to the previous expeditions and joined the most recent one to Caer Siorai when he was slain in battle by a mysterious warrior known as Endless. Later on he was resurrected with amnesia by Death, the mysterious and often snarky overseer of the underworld. Death then sets Sorun on his new path, to find the source of immortality and destroy it to restore balance to the cycle of life and death.
Death’s Gambit shares the open world design and challenge based progress to both Dark Souls and Super Metroid. Similar to Dark Souls, deaths are marked on the map to help recover lost XP and there are multiple classes to select that have different builds to focus on. Combat and resource management is very similar as well, from managing stamina for every dodge and strike to watching for ambushes. NPCs gather in a sanctuary similar to those in the hubs of Fromsoftware games like Bloodborne and The Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls series. Death’s Gambit is very much a pixelated 2D version of Dark Souls down to the grim themes of Death and its importance to a world ironically dying from immortality.
5. A New Retelling Of Pinocchio With Lies of P
Lies of P takes the fairytale themes and elements of Pinocchio and recontextualizes it with Soulsborne atmosphere and gameplay mechanics. Taking place after a brutal uprising in which puppets turned against their human masters, players take control of the titular character P, as he searches the ruined city of Krat and puts a stop to the nightmarish apocalypse alongside his creator Gepetto.
Lies of P has an interesting weapon system where weapons can combine and mix with different blades and handles to have different combo attacks and effects. Sharpening weapons regularly maintains the durability or else the weapons will shatter. Enemy weapons would also shatter too and that is a part of making certain fights easier. Much of the game feels very much like Bloodborne even with similarity themed environments and physiological horror.
4. Challenging The Lords of the Fallen
Taking place 1,000 years after the events of the original game, The Lords of the Fallen (2023) is the sequel/soft reboot of the original Lords of the Fallen released in 2014. The story of the game takes place in the dark lands of Mournstead, now on the verge of collapse when the ancient menace known as Adyr is close to awakening. Only the Lampbearer has the power to stop them by accessing the realms of the physical and astral, where terrifying wraiths lurk for traveling souls.
The game is played very similarly to Dark Souls and features many of the similar trademarks from resting checkpoints, tough enemies and rather cheap ambushes that can make players paranoid of any space. The interesting twist is that navigating the environment is split between the physical world and spiritual world to find hidden items, pathways, and enemies that need to be defeated for materials. Traveling in the spirit world is also considered a second chance in defeating a boss or vicious enemies in a way that’s similar to the death mechanic in Fromsoftware’s Sekiro. However, staying in the spirit world for extended periods will attract a terrifying reaper to hunt down the Lampbearer. There are also certain traps that trigger in the physical realm but can be seen and avoided in the spirit world.
3. Survive The Empire In Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
Jedi Survivor is the sequel to the highly acclaimed Jedi Fallen Order video game released by EA on current consoles and the previous generation. Following the adventures of Cal Kestis, the protagonist of Jedi Fallen Order, as he fights off the conquering Empire. New and old friends join him as he attempts to carve a place in the galaxy for the destroyed jedi order to survive and endure.
Jedi Survivor takes every from the previous title and expands on the interesting gameplay introduced. Basically the game plays very similarly to Dark Souls but with the Star Wars aesthetics and storytelling. Much of the comparisons go into the fighting mechanics, difficulty of enemies, and the punishments of dying along with checkpoints that have places to level up.
2. Battle Yokai and Samurai in Nioh 2
Taking place in medieval Japan during the Warring States Period, Nioh 2 follows a half-yokai samurai out to uncover the mystery of a mystical dagger while aiming to end the bloodshed of war alongside famous historical warriors of the time period. Guardian Spirits and the malevolent yokai that plague the broken nation haunt Japan and draw further conflict. The game follows the chronological path of the Sengoku period and is treated as a prequel/sequel to the first game that follows the quest of William Adams.
The game is very similar to the original Nioh and works off of the same engine and gameplay style. The major difference from Dark Souls is that instead of an open world, Nioh is composed of multiple large levels that are interconnected with shortcuts and alternative paths. There are multiple weapons that can be obtained like Diablo Loot where it’s random rarity and skill value and they can grow stronger with certain builds and leveled up attributes. Stamina is replaced with ki which is still used for dodging, dashing, and attacking. The difference is that by triggering a ki pulse, warriors can restore more than half their ki quick enough to press the offensive. Enemies also have ki and many battles start as a duel for who depletes their ki first for a fatal attack.
1. Journey Through The Lands Between In Elden Ring
Fromsoftware’s latest game that follows the concepts pioneered by Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. Elden Ring follows the divine ruler and Goddess Marika the Eternal, who ruled the Lands Between with the power of the Elden Ring. After a tragedy results in the death of one of her immortal children, the Elden Ring is shattered into many great runes that were contested by the many demigods of the world. Thousands of years later the player character, known only as the tarnished, awakens from their grave to defeat the demigods, restore the Elden Ring, and become the next Elden Lord.
This game takes the Dark Souls formula and places it in a massive ever changing open world with dozens of ways to play, tons of magic to play with, and a plethora of vicious enemies to battle. Instead of bonfires there are grace points to level up and respawn at. Runes are xp just like the souls collected in the Dark Souls games and soul arts are straight up magic with a vast majority of spells that can be discovered in the expansive world.
Elden Ring (2022) Official Story Trailer