Like Dark Souls? These Soulslike games are to die for

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Best
Soulslike games
Windows Central
2021

FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series (along with the studio’s offshoot titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice) has taken the gaming community by storm over the years. In fact, Dark Souls is so popular that it has spawned its own genre of game — the Soulslike. Soulslikes are characterized by Dark Souls-style gameplay that typically features dodge-rolling, melee combos, levels filled with challenging enemies and shortcuts, and intense boss fights. If you’re a Dark Souls fan and you’re looking for similar games to play, check out some of the best Soulslike games — many of which are among the best Xbox games available.


Nioh 2: Complete Edition

★ Our favorite:
Nioh 2: The Complete Edition


Staff pick

The sequel to the original Nioh is unquestionably one of the best Soulslikes ever made, featuring tons of varied levels, excellent combat, plenty of weapons and armors, great boss fights, and more. The Ki pulse system also allows skilled players to regenerate stamina mid-combat, encouraging aggressive playstyles that don’t usually work in Dark Souls.

The Surge

Futuristic dystopia:
The Surge

If you want to get away from the medieval theme of Dark Souls, The Surge takes players to a futuristic dystopia and replaces sword and shield with advanced exoskeletons, mechs, and more. It’s slightly clunky, but the overall experience is excellent.

The Surge 2

A strong sequel:
The Surge 2

The Surge 2 improves upon the original’s level design and the combat experience is smoother and more exciting, but the story and atmosphere is a bit of a downgrade. Despite some of the backsteps, though, The Surge 2 is nevertheless a great Soulslike you shouldn’t miss — especially if you enjoyed the original.

Mortal Shell

Short and sweet:
Mortal Shell

Mortal Shell is a short and sweet Soulslike that introduces a unique mechanic: Hardening, which allows you to turn your body to stone to block an enemy attack and then “riposte” by attacking afterwards. You can even Harden mid-swing, which can lead to some interesting combos against enemies.

Ashen

An adventure for two:
Ashen

Ashen is a unique Soulslike that automatically pairs you up with another player and encourages you to work together to overcome the various challenges in its non-linear open world. The game also features a soft and minimalist art style that’s easy on the eyes.

Fury

An interconnected world:
Darksiders III

Darksiders III isn’t a Soulslike because of its combat design, which is more arcadey in nature (there are some similarities, though). The resemblance mainly lies in the game’s world design, which is non-linear and loops back on itself much like Lordran of the original Dark Souls.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Souls in a galaxy far, far away:
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

With its significant emphasis on parrying and wearing an opponent down over time, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is very similar to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The story and visuals are great too, which is a nice bonus. It can feel a bit janky at times, but overall, it’s a great game.

Remnant: From The Ashes Se Square

Lock and load:
Remnant: From the Ashes

Remnant: From the Ashes features lots of boss fights, non-linear levels with shortcuts and looping paths, and an emphasis on dodging. The thing that sets it apart from other Soulslike games, though, is its focus on firearms. In a genre dominated by melee combat, the gunplay of Remnant is a fun and interesting breath of fresh air.

Hellpoint

Souls goes cosmic:
Hellpoint

Hellpoint features many of the mechanics and systems that make the Dark Souls games satisfying, including skillful melee combat, lots of build potential, and more. The game’s cosmic sci-fi setting is also a welcome departure from the usual Soulslike dark fantasy.

Hollow Knight

The best 2D Soulslike:
Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight may be a 2D platformer, but it shares tons of DNA with Dark Souls. Non-linear exploration, dodge-heavy melee combat, and engaging boss fights all come together in Hollow Knight to prove that the design of Dark Souls works in 2D as well as 3D.

Salt and Sanctuary

Tons of build potential:
Salt and Sanctuary

Like Hollow Knight, Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D platformer that has tons of Dark Souls influence. The combat is a bit stiff at times, but the fact that there are countless different types of weapons, armors, spells, and more for the player to use makes up for it. Because of this variety, the game is a blast to play if you like experimenting with builds.

Titan Souls

Boss rush mayhem:
Titan Souls

This boss rush Soulslike comes with an interesting twist: You and the boss both die in one hit, but you’ve got only one arrow and the boss can be damaged only when you shoot their weak point. Also, your only other ability besides shooting is to roll, so to succeed, you’ll need to learn the patterns of each boss and avoid their attacks and then hit their weak spot when it’s exposed.

$15 at GOG

If we had to choose

All of these Soulslikes are excellent games, and I recommend checking them all out if you have the time and patience to overcome each one. However, if I had to recommend just one, it would be Nioh 2: The Complete Edition. It’s easily the most fluid and engaging Soulslike I’ve ever played, and the wealth of content it offers means that you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.

If you’re sick of the standard dark fantasy aesthetic that most Soulslikes feature, give The Surge and The Surge 2 a look. The dystopian sci-fi style of both games is a breath of fresh air for the genre, and both also have strong gameplay that any Souls fan will love.

Finally, give Hollow Knight a try if you’re looking for something with a different perspective. Its fluid movement and platforming, difficult-but-engaging melee combat, non-linear exploration, and intense boss fights all make for a fantastic Soulslike that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss.

If you’re also interested in other types of RPGs that don’t lean into Dark Souls territory too much, check out our roundups of the best Xbox One role-playing games and the best PC role-playing games.

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