It would be a vast understatement to say that the Dark Souls series has been one of the most consistent and influential games of the post-aughts. Likening something to Dark Souls has quickly become the preferred nomenclature for describing something difficult, much in the way that Citizen Kane gets used as an allusion to describe the pinnacle of quality.
The telltale elements of a Dark Souls game have been seared into the minds of those who have come into even brief contact with it, whether it’s a signature unrelenting challenge, its opaque storytelling, or its unforgettable world. Every detail—from the minute to the most major—has been poured over, reveled in, debated and re-debated by the groundswell of passionate fans that it rapidly cultivated. Therefore it comes as no surprise that so many players have been looking for games similar to Dark Souls.
Sure, countless games have taken inspiration to varying degrees of adaptation, with some really testing the limits of the word homage. The next Souls game has always felt like it’s been around the next corner, but if the wait becomes too long, here are a few games like Dark Souls-type games to help tide you over until the next perilous journey. Some are new, some are older classics, and some are even once PlayStation exclusives. Either way, vote up all your favorites so other Souls lovers can see which titles to pick up next.
- Photo: From Software
Cut from the same cloth, FromSoft delivered on another variant of the tried and true Souls formula, as well one of the best Tenchu-adjacent games in recent memory. Back again is the rigorous combat, trademark boss battles, and mysterious worlds that they create so well—all set against the vibrant backdrop of 16th century Japan.
But, as they say, the devil’s in the details. In place of more patient, defensive play, combat is fierce and frantic when hiding in the shadows becomes no longer an option. This is matched in terms of movement as Sekiro ramps up the speed and verticality to a more freeing point, flying from ledge to ledge, with the tantalizing addition of a grappling hook.
214A must-play for 'Dark Souls' fans?
- Release: 2019
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Photo: From Software
When talking about Souls-like games, you can’t do much better than Bloodborne. Also developed by From Software, players take control of Hunter, a Victorian badass, in this action RPG epic. It features many of the same gameplay styles of Dark Souls games, yet features enough originality to make it stand out on its own.
While Dark Souls games tend to favor more tactical and cautious gameplay, Bloodborne’s aggression is turned up to 10. Gameplay is much faster, more fluid, and tends to make the whole plot a bit more tense as a whole. Favoring mood over action, Dark Souls can be slow at times, but there’s (almost) never a dull moment with Bloodborne.
111A must-play for 'Dark Souls' fans?
- Platform: PlayStation 4
- 3Photo: Team Ninja
Made by the legendary developer Team Ninja, who have a pedigree for making superb action adventure games, it comes as no surprise that this is an excellence in execution. The story is very loosely inspired by Sengoku Japan, incorporating actual historical characters into its narrative, as you go around slaying all sorts of oni and yōkai. Complex combat is at the heart of the experience. Slashing through each level and riposting with a well-timed parry never felt so good.
Gone is the overlapping world-scape that Dark Souls is so known for, and instead the game is separated into selectable missions. It breaks up what otherwise might be an oppressive journey, into more consumable bite-sized chunks. Just when it feels like all hope is lost, you get to take a break. It really does wonders for the pace, and lets the action take center stage.
100A must-play for 'Dark Souls' fans?
- Release: 2017
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
- Photo: Team Cherry
Hollow Knight's journey finds you exploring a forgotten kingdom ruled by bugs. The history of the bespoke world unfolds behind every corner, with a vibe that is haunting yet endearing. It has the same sort of melancholic atmosphere pervasive in Dark Souls, but due to the choice of aesthetic, it gives it a bit more wonder and whimsy. In some ways, it drives the themes home more and allows things to feel incredibly impactful.
Exploration is vital, as you try to map the Hallownest piece by piece. Its movement is fluid and graceful, with deadly platforming challenges and high mobility concepting of what an air-dash might look like in Dark Souls.
104A must-play for 'Dark Souls' fans?
- Release: 2017
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4