There is no question now that Elden Ring is becoming one of the most popular Souls Games in gaming history. This is no small feat considering From’s other games have cult followings. With that in mind, let us visit some of the more noteworthy Souls games that are not Elden Ring.
Let me make this very clear, there is only going to be ONE entry from From Software’s library of games. At this point, putting more From games on this list will only take away from the other games that also inhabit the genre.
What is a Soulslike game?
There are some elements that bind most Soulslike games together. They are, but not limited to, high difficulty, all-or-nothing combat for both combatants, scarce checkpoints, and enemies dropping ‘souls’ (or an equivalent resource) which the player can use to upgrade stats and/or gear. These resources are usually dropped upon death and the player has the option to retrieve them without dying a second time.
As a rule of thumb, bosses are generally challenging. Requiring the player to read attack patterns and to dodge at the right time. A parry and backstab mechanic are also common in this genre.
And without further ado, let’s get to our list of Souls-likes games that are kinda like Elden Ring.
Dark Souls Remastered
Developer: FromSoftware Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC Release Date: May 24, 2018
Look, you knew this was coming. So we might as well get it out of the way.
But why this and not Bloodbourne… or Sekiro… or Demon’s Souls… or any of the Dark Souls sequels.
It’s simple really. Nostalgia. Before Soulslike games were a thing. There was Dark Souls. Demon’s Souls was technically the first, but if you ask a fellow Souls player, chances are they’ve heard of Dark Souls first before they heard of Demon’s Souls. Not to discredit Demon’s Souls or anything but the game itself didn’t exactly shift the cultural paradigm of gaming. But it did start the wave.
For me, the original Demon’s Souls was more like a proof of concept test. And from the ashes of humble beginnings, we now have a growing genre that is not afraid to give players a true sense of challenge.
The Nioh Collection
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games Platform: PS4, PS5, PC Release Date: September 9th, 2021
The Sengoku warring states period with a sprinkle of Dark Souls mechanics and more. Other than the comparisons with Sekiro, Nioh also doesn’t utilize shields. Much in the same way shields are practically useless in Bloodborne. The Nioh Collection is the ultimate edition that consists of both games plus their respective DLC.
Though the Nioh series does have large intimidating monsters (I’m looking at you Umi Bozu boss). The most memorable battles in the game are those that involved historical figures twisted into superhuman beasts of war. It’s kind of nice to other sides of Hideyoshi Toyotomi that’s not seen in a… let’s say…. Samurai Warriors game.
Nioh 2’s Yokai shift mechanic allowed for some thrilling comebacks from dire situations.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Developer: Respawn Entertainment Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC Release Date: November 15th, 2019
Dark Souls in the Star Wars universe. Those are two words that don’t feel like they belong in the same sentence but somehow, someway, Respawn Entertainment pulled it off. And now the idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.
The lightsabers are the stars of this show. It’s practically a given since it’s the only way to do the most elegant weapon in the history of combat justice. Of all the Souls games out there, this one has the least amount of creepy enemies to deal with.
But hey, there are plenty of action set pieces that you won’t find in other games. This is one for both Star Wars and Souls fans.
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: September 27th, 2019
Code Vein gets a bad rep for being ‘Anime Dark Souls’. Which is fair. But I’m not saying it shouldn’t have been made in the first place. The genre needs more original ideas besides the gloomy, depressing worlds. We’ve got those in spades.
There are plenty of memorable encounters in Code Vein, many of which are tied to locations and characters. Also, the game has one of those cliffhanger ending that’s supposed to set things for a sequel but we’ve yet to hear anything about it as of the writing of this list.
The biggest problem Code Vein had is that the game doesn’t know what it wants to be. It is stuck between its Dark Souls-like mechanics and over-the-top action that’s akin to Devil May Cry. And it is a shame too, the Blood mechanic is interesting and there is so much we don’t know about the world.
Hopefully, a sequel addresses all the concerns of the first game.
On another note, at least it isn’t as over the top as another entry further down this list. (Spoiler alert: it involves climbing a tower.)
Remnant: From the Ashes
Developer: Gunfire Games Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, PC Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Dark Souls with guns. Initially, this was a game I thought wasn’t going to work as a Souls-like. But I was ultimately proven wrong when I realized I wasn’t as invulnerable despite having a longer range and the luxury of having a dodge-focused stamina meter. In fact, a balanced mix of close quarters and shooting enemies adds another layer to combat. It was literally a game of cat and mouse for a while. And that’s when I found my footing, my favorite build, and a lot of enemies dead in one shot. The root never knew what hit ’em.
Personally, I didn’t like that the ending was DLC, along with many game-changing weapons and accessories. The game was also a little too focused on what it was trying to do. Just try and find something that’s built for tanking in this game. Chances are your choices are limited, especially in the base game.
Developer: Heart Machine Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Mobile, PC Release Date: March 31st, 2016
A Zelda-inspired cyberpunk action RPG. That’s what Hyperlight Drifters appears on the surface. Though many people talk about the game’s crushing difficulty, its best parts lie in its art style, its story, and its precision approach to fighting. The game’s elegant use of quick slashes and long-range combat, mixed in with a dodge dash, set it up in such a way that you are rewarded for skillful play. Besides the difficulty, Hyperlight Drifters shares the same feeling of aimlessness and self-learning that are present in many Soulslike games.
Hyperlight Drifters is not without issues though. The beautiful surrounding may distract players from the critical path. And the amount of work that’s needed to get a full grasp of the story may be asking for too much. But other than that, it’s a brilliant game that deserves all its praises.
Let It Die
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture Platforms: PS4, PC Release Date: December 3rd, 2016
“Hey Senpai”, is probably Uncle Death again reminding you to make it to the top of the Tower of Barbs. Honestly, the arcadey-like combat is a little too quick for Soulslike games, but this rogue-lite is more than capable of throwing the gauntlet of difficulty if it means you spending more… time in the game.
One of the unique aspects of Let it Die is that you transfer previously learned skills to succeeding characters that are stored in the freezer. It says you a lot of time from just starting over again. The weapon break mechanic also gets a mention. Because of it, you’ll always need to switch things up. Which keeps the fights fresh. Unless its a boss battle. Then you’re probably screwed.
Or just say “**** it” and just revive yourself, mid-fight, using premium currency. Gotta cash in from the F2P aspect somehow.
Developer: Cold Symmetry Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox Box One, Xbox Series X|S, PC Release Date: August 18th, 2020
For me, Mortal Shell feels like Dark Souls-lite. One of the reasons is that the game isn’t as long as your typical Soulslike games, despite the fact that it utilizes many of the things that made the genre so popular. The good news is that there is a defining feature that sets it apart – the ability to possess fallen warriors and make use of their dead bodies. I know it sounds kind of morbid. But if I’m being honest, that was an afterthought compared to the trials and tribulations of starting out. It also helps that the unique hardening mechanic adds a new layer of tactics that’s quite different for Souls game’s all-or-nothing approach to combat.
The ‘lite’ part of Mortal Shell is what ultimately limits the game’s potential. With a limited number of shells at your disposal and a small weapon pool, you can’t afford to experiment as much as one would normally do in other Souls games. Nevertheless, there is an odd sense of satisfaction in mastering the game’s quirky mechanics.
It may be a relatively short journey, but as soulslike games go, it does enough to warrant a single complete playthrough.
Developer: The Game Kitchen Platforms: PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC Release Date: September 10th, 2019
A Metroidvania with a Dark Souls spin, Blasphemous offers a dark, depressing setting and thrilling 2D combat. As expected from a title called Blasphemous, the game is steeped in religious iconography. Combat is a hit-and-run affair that mainly involves performing a couple of sword strikes before dodging and/or parrying subsequent enemy attacks. But what really steals the show are the executions the penitent one performs on low HP enemies. These unique animations are very entertaining to watch and further emphasized the game’s more brutal aspects.
The game’s biggest weakness lies in the fact that it becomes too tedious after the novelty of the combat wears off. It turns into an exercise of memorizing moves instead of actively reacting to threats. Also, the post-hit animation takes too long and leaves the player open to follow-up attacks. This is a huge problem in some boss encounters.
Problems aside, it is one of the more amazing 2D Soulslike games out there.
The Surge 2
Developer: Deck13 Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: September 24th, 2019
The Surge 2 is a surgical Soulslike game set in a futuristic sci-fi world. If you enjoy the raw brutality of ripping enemies apart, then you’ve come to the right place. A definite upgrade from its predecessor, though it can still learn a thing or two about adding more biomes.
Aside from the dismemberment system that allows for different parts, the game is also remarkable in the fact that it WANTS you to stay in the field for longer. This builds up certain multipliers for higher rewards. Dying, however, is equally risky as you have to race back to your corpse ASAP or you lose everything.
The weakest aspect of The Surge 2 is its level design. Too many urban locations and not much else. Maybe a forest setting or two. But that’s about it.
Salt and Sanctuary
Developer: Ska Studios, Blitworks, Sickhead Games, Kakehashi Games Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: March 15th, 2016
The quintessential 2D Soulslike to many, Salt and Sanctuary’s precise combat and moody atmosphere make it a welcome addition to the lineup of soul-crushing games.
Salt and Sanctuary is structured almost like a Metroidvania. But the lack of map functionality adds to the level of vagueness not even done in 3D Souls games. It doesn’t seem to be an issue, however, as the paths are pretty much straightforward. In fact, platforming and exploration are rewarding tasks.
The hardest part of the game lies in the fact that there is very little explanation for pretty much anything in the game. You won’t know what each class specifically does at the start, other than the obvious knight or wizard. But if you can make sense of that, you’ll be in for some fun.
Developer: A44 Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC Release Date: December 7th, 2018
I would describe Ashen as minimalist Dark Souls and that is a compliment, all things considered. Ashen reuses many of the mechanics seen in Souls games and yet creates something for itself with its minimalist approach to visuals, the inclusion of simple, yet effective, multiplayer, and a story of hope and rebuilding, something that’s usually overtaken by the dark and depressing setting of other games.
The atmosphere this game creates is far more calming than most games in the genre. There is a greater emphasis on exploration, this is evident with a diverse set of locations and striking use of light in dark environments.
Ashen may have a lighter tone than others, but at its core, it’s still a punishing game. The dungeons leading towards the 5 main bosses are no walk in the park. Nevertheless, it is an amazing game deserving of more recognition.
Developer: Gunfire Games Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC Release Date: November 26th, 2018
It may be a little more action-oriented than your typical Souls game, but there’s no denying that Darksiders III’s overall design is inspired by Dark Souls. From the world design to the enemy encounters to the mechanics, it’s all there. This is no mere hack-and-slash game. Enemies need to be studied and bosses, respected.
Fury’s hunt for the seven deadly sins is pretty much like your long laundry list of baddies that need to die in order to reach the end. Small environmental puzzles do shake things from time to time, this is most evident with Fury’s other forms.
It may suffer from a few questionable design decisions that see players take a long way back for a rematch against some bosses, it’s still a very fun, yet difficult game.
Developer: Cradle Games Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC Release Date: July 30th, 2020
A sci-fi setting aboard a derelict space station and a ‘different enough’ approach is probably what sets Hellpoint apart from your typical Souls game. Other than that, it is pretty much a by-the-numbers kind of Souls-like. Combat is a lot more fluid than what you would expect from Soulslike games. Dodging is quick and recovery almost instantaneous. It is worth noting that using the same weapon over and over again unlocks some new skills on that weapon.
For me, the biggest difference with the game is that enemies do not respawn when you reach a safe point. Instead, enemies work on a set timer. It’s an interesting idea but it doesn’t help in traversing the vast empty halls any easier. Additionally, if you do happen to die, you won’t just lose your souls, you will leave behind a remnant version of yourself that you will most likely have to kill.
Necropolis is strongest in its Dark Souls-inspired combat, chaining light and heavy swings, dodges, parries, blocks, and devastating charged attacks. An exhaustion system keeps the player from spamming and gives the player more than enough reason to rely on the game’s crafting system for food supplies and potions.
the game’s biggest strength also happens to be the game’s Achilles heel. The procedurally generated dungeon is a novel idea but its weak execution often results in long corridors with enemies that are too few and far in between.
Replay value comes from codexes, which are modifiers that persist between deaths, and give the player playstyle bonuses like vampirism and other buffs. As a Dark Souls-like game, it is best enjoyed in short bursts.