You don’t know how to fool the wait until the arrival of Elden Ring next February 25? Why not organize a marathon of videogiochi soulslike to welcome the new FromSoftware game with hours and hours of training? To help you in this enterprise, we at Tech Princess offer you our list of the best soulslike video games. You will probably die a lot anyway, but at least you will do it with style and with the certainty of having a great cultural background.
The best soulslike video games: how to orient yourself
Before starting, a small premise: given that in this article we will only consider the soulslike, that is all those video games that take their inspiration from the lesson of the Souls of FromSoftware, and then decline it differently depending on the sensitivity of the studio, we will not consider any of the original Souls.
In this list therefore you will not find Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2 e Dark Souls 3 for this very reason (also because they would win the title of best soulslike at the table), but it goes without saying that if you’ve never played these four titles should be your first choices, since they contain the very essence of this genre videogame. Titles that will find space in this article are products such as Bloodborne, produced by FromSoftware, but not Souls in the strict sense.
For further clarity, here it is the elements that we will take into consideration to identify video games present in this list:
- High difficulty
- Exploration based on the concept of Risk & Reward (big risk = big reward)
- Checkpoints that reset enemies and game world
- In-game currency that can be obtained by killing enemies and that can be lost when the character dies
- Strategic combat, ideally based on a stamina indicator
Having made the necessary premises, let’s immediately enter into the merits of the best soulslike video games according to Tech Princess.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, that is, with Bloodborne, to all effects the first and one of the best soulslike video games, developed by FromSoftware himself. Unsurprisingly, this title, released in 2015, is still one of the best-built pearls of the genre, also by virtue of its noble birthplace and sublime artistic direction led by Hidetaka Miyazaki.
Bloodborne distances itself from the atmospheres of the previous titles of the software house, without giving up the dark and dark atmospheres that characterize the recent works of the studio. The title begins by transporting us into the middle of Yarnham, a gothic city with mysterious origins, an element that already stands in direct contrast to the medieval aesthetics of the Souls.
Yarnham has hosted the Church of the cure, an institution that makes use of allegedly curative blood capable of curing all ills; however, a strange disease winds through the streets of the city, capable of transforming men into feral beasts, and it will be up to us, new beast hunters, to clean up the alleys trying at the same time to steal the secrets that lie behind this bizarre epidemic.
With Bloodborne FromSoftware completely changes the setting, opting for a Gothic and Victorian imagery that winks, for the topics covered, to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft; an inspiration that becomes more and more evident as the adventure progresses.
Also from the point of view of gameplay the game totally changes the setting compared to the Souls. In the first place the concept of shield almost completely disappears, replaced here by a firearm capable of interrupting and leaving enemies vulnerable to a counterattack. Secondly then, Bloodborne places particular emphasis on dodging, which here turn into a quick dash useful just to avoid enemy offensives and to continue attacking our victims without ever stopping us.
Another element of great value in the game are the weapons, the Trick Weapons, able to transform and completely change the moves from one form to another, which makes fighting a pleasant game of slaughter. Finally, the icing on the cake is the Regain System, which allows us to recover our health by attacking the enemy immediately after being hit. Bloodborne is available exclusively on PS4 and, via backward compatibility on PS5, and still remains one of the highest points ever reached by FromSoftware, both in terms of art and gameplay.
Salt & Sanctuary
Salt & Sanctuary it is one of the first soulslike to be released on the market and, as such, it is also one of those where it is most evident the inspiration for the Souls, both for good and for bad. In fact, the game, developed by only two people, shows with a certain conscious brazenness how much its nature is inextricably linked to Dark Souls, with some bossfights practically identical, at least on an aesthetic level, to what is seen in the FromSoftware masterpiece.
Despite this, Salt & Sanctuary finds its well-deserved space in this list given that, net of this out-of-control quotation, the game implements a parallel evolution of the concept of soulslike which will then be taken up with both hands by some excellent products of the videogame panorama; an evolution that would not have been possible had the game not been made in 2D.
In this sense Salt & Sanctuary is a hybrid video game, halfway between what we would normally consider a soulslike and a metrodivania, since recovering basic elements of both genres by mixing them with wisdom. Of the Souls setting we find the loss of the in-game currency upon death, the idea of leveling up through that same in-game currency, and the presence of weapons in abundance to be exploited based on one’s mental and physical characteristics.
From the metroidvania genre, on the other hand, the game takes up the aforementioned 2D perspective, the game progression linked to the acquisition of certain skills and the map, huge and intricate, exactly as befits this type of video game. Last but not least we have a skill tree which guarantees practically infinite possibilities in terms of gameplay and the possibility to play the whole adventure together with a friend in mode local multiplayer.
Salt & Sanctuary is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Our next video game on the list of best soulslike video games is Mortal Shell, another independent video game and in some ways much shorter and more sacrificed than its much more illustrious colleagues. What are you doing on this list then? Well, Mortal Shell finds space in the Olympus of the best soulslike video games for two specific reasons: the mechanics of possession of bodies and that of hardening.
In fact, in the game we take on the role of a mysterious albino being with barely hinted shapes, but capable of possess the bodies of the dead to exploit their characteristics. Precisely in this way we will be able to recover between the streets of Fallgrim numerous corpses, which will in effect constitute ours playable classes, from the classic warrior, through the thief, up to more hybrid set ups focused on magic or heavy weapons.
In this context, the game also gets rid of the concept of shield, since the “ghost” we control is able to harden for short periods of time, which is useful for taking blows without suffering damage and responding blow for blow to each opponent’s offensive.
We also report that the game received its first expansion a few months ago, called The Virtuos Cycle, which introduces rogue-like mechanics into the game, as well as introducing over 100 new abilities that can be obtained by exploring in detail a revised version of the game map. Mortal Shell is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X / S and PC, but mind you: despite putting interesting mechanics into play, it is still a very crude title, to be played only if you are passionate lovers such.
Let’s continue our roundup with Code Vein, a title that for many has already become the Dark Souls anime. Developed by Bandai Namco, this title will allow us to explore our planet after an apocalyptic event that has totally changed its natural logic, primarily due to the advent of vampire-like creatures, which now represent the majority of the population.
Our avatar, fully customizable, is just part of them and this guarantees us a vast plethora of peculiar abilities. The class change is triggered by the so-called Blood Code, of the key items that we will be able to equip after finding them in the game world or having received them as a reward after bossfight, which will allow us to radically change our fighting style.
It is a mechanic that allows you to experiment a lot with the resources that the title makes available to us, not to mention that each of this classes also offers different unique skills that we can use to make our way through the hordes of undead that stand between us and our ultimate goal.
Me too’narrative plot it is more in-depth than it might seem at first glance, a pity only for the exaggerated aesthetics of some characters, who often and willingly undermine the player’s immersion in this gloomy and dying universe. Of course there is no lack of multiplayer cooperative mode, on the contrary absent the PvP.
Code Vein is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Blasphemous is one of the products that have best been able to hybridize the classic formula of soulslike with that of metroidvania. Over the years, several titles have alternated that have tried to make these two souls coexist, trying to replicate and above all improve, as seen with Salt & Sanctuary, but few have succeeded in such a balanced way as the developers of Blasphemous.
The game was released in 2019, from the forges of Games Kitchen and presents itself as a 2D adventure made in pixel art set in a universe inspired by the Christian religion. We will play the role of a knight in search of penance and one of the most evocative mechanics of the title undoubtedly concerns the way in which our death is handled in …