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17 Best Soulslike Games of All Time


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From Demon’s to Dark and Bloodborne to Sekiro, FromSoftware has made a name for themselves with their “Soulsborne” games, leading to the current Elden era. Synonymous with difficult but ultimately rewarded gameplay, lore told mainly through exploration, and some of the most intense and frustrating boss battles, these titles have carved their own niche into the gaming landscape. Behold, the Soulslike.

Naturally, when a formula proves popular, there will be imitators after a slice of the pie. Most miss the mark, equating the ‘Souls-like’ formula to mean just ramping up the difficulty and expecting players to enjoy the pain. Fans know that it’s not so simple to strike the perfect balance of challenge and reward.

That’s not to say that every attempt to replicate this formula is bad. Whether it be a full 3D imitation or a 2D Metroidvania with Souls-like sensibilities, there’s a whole gamut of games out there trying to be as renowned as a FromSoftware title. Here are a few that are worth playing.

#17 Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Platform: PC PS5 XSX|S
Releease Date: April 28, 2023

Steam | Playstation | Xbox

The story of Cal Kestis is about to continue! Set five years after the events of the first game, Star Wars Jedi Survivor sees Cal trying to do all he can to defeat the Empire and prove they’re not invincible. But new events will make him question his place in the galaxy and reunite him with old friends along the way.

Enjoy the classic style of lightsaber battles from before, mixed in with some new techniques, Force powers, and more. The galaxy far, far away has never looked more beautiful and has never been this expansive. So wander around and see what it has to offer you!

#16 Thymesia

  • Developer: OverBorder Studio
  • Publisher: Team17
  • Released: 2022

In the medieval world of Thymesia, you’ll face a threat much greater than the darkness around you. For in the land of Hermes, the people became obsessed with the art of Alchemy. They thought it would be the answer to all of their problems. But instead, it was just fuel for the doom to come. Because when the king tried to ban Alchemy, he caused a catastrophe that plunged the kingdom into true ruin.

Now, the only hope you have lies in the memories of one person. But those memories are scattered across this fallen kingdom. Will you be able to find them all to learn the truth and save the kingdom? You’re about to find out!

#15 The Surge

  • Developer: Deck13
  • Publisher: Focus Entertainment
  • Released: 2017

The first imitator on this list is only Souls-like in gameplay, not in presentation. (No knights in black armor here, that’s for sure.) Cutlasses have been replaced with circuitry and castles for junkyards.

The Surge dared to be different, and it managed to do well in many respects. In a more negative sense, it didn’t improve on the “just make it hard” formula that Deck13’s Lords of the Fallen fell victim to years prior. There are good times to be had here, however, and a sci-fi Dark Souls was a gap that needed filling. It’s also a formula we may revisit later.

#14 Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights

  • Developer: Live Wire
  • Publisher: Binary Haze Interactive
  • Released: 2021

One of the staple components in a Soulslike is, undoubtedly, the combat. The joy of finding a weapon build that suits you and then subsequently smacking the snot out of the boss is a feeling like no other. Ender Lilies does away with that, so you may wonder why it’s on this list.

Instead of charging into combat, Lily can summon minions to do the beatings for her. But in true Soulslike manner, players will still have to manage and maintain their summons, adding some standard tactical gameplay to the mix.

#13 Death’s Gambit: Afterlife

  • Developer: White Rabbit
  • Publisher: Adult Swim
  • Released: 2018

It’s not very often you can associate Adult Swim with something dark without adding “-comedy” on the end of it. They do tend to dabble in other realms from time to time, introducing a great 2D Soulslike that deserved a spot on this list easily.

Death’s Gambit tells its tale through gorgeous pixel art, though it didn’t hit its stride until the Afterlife expansion last year. A free DLC, Afterlife offers more of a challenge, more weapons, and an overhaul that makes the core game more enjoyable.

#12 Remnant: From the Ashes

  • Developer: Gunfire Games
  • Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
  • Released: 2019

If someone said “Dark Souls with guns,” it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think they meant Gears of War on higher difficulties. In actuality, it’s a perfect summary of Remnant: From the Ashes.

You’d think fast-firing projectile weapons would make a Soulslike easier, but in Remnant‘s case, it only adds to the difficulty of its various battles. For one, picking which weapon type can be hard enough, given that you’ll have to find one that works with your playstyle. Teamwork makes it easier, but don’t expect an easy ride with friends by your side.

#11 Salt and Sanctuary

  • Developer: Ska Studios
  • Publisher: Ska Studios
  • Released: 2016

Salt and Sanctuary holds the distinction of being one of the earliest Metroidvania titles to adopt a second portmanteau; the Soulsborne Metroidvania. It fit the mold perfectly as it is, in essence, a 2D Soulslike. It’s got the grimness and sense of despair down perfectly, that’s for sure.

It also introduces quite a bit of challenge and that one-more-go attitude that embodies a Soulslike. It may look like a Flash game from the Newground days, but stick with Salt and Sanctuary and there’s a deeply rewarding and challenging time to be had.

#10 Hyper Light Drifter

  • Developer: Heart Machine
  • Publisher: Heart Machine
  • Released: 2016

The one wildcard in this list, Hyper Light Drifter is not 3D, nor is it a 2D side scroller. Instead, it’s a top-down dungeon-crawl adventure that echoes Zelda: Link to the Past sentiments. Much like that game, Hyper Light Drifter offers an addictive puzzle/adventure combo. It’s also insanely hard at times.

Armed with a sword, quick reflexes, and a small health pool, the emphasis here is on being nimble and striking fast before you’re ganged up on. Favoring minimal storytelling, Hyper Light Drifter is Soulslike in nature with a top-down twist.

#9 Code Vein

  • Developer: Bandai Namco
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco
  • Released: 2019

There’s been a lot of variants on the Souls formula, from grim to sci-fi, so it made sense that there would be an attempt on every angle. It was only inevitable that we’d get “Soulslike but anime,” with Bandai Namco leading the small cavalry charge.

The plot is a little too wacky to break down here, but Code Vein does offer some of the brightest and best combat this side of a Dark Souls system. There are a lot of extraneous pickups to wade through, but when players figure out how to refine their build, Code Vein feels as over the top as an episode of Dragon Ball Z in terms of combat.

#8 Sundered

  • Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
  • Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
  • Released: 2017

Another 2D Souls-like, Sundered adds some bullet hell goodness to the mix. For those unfamiliar, a bullet hell title usually applies to side-scrolling shooters that involve mass amounts of projectiles coming at players at any one time.

Sundered incorporates that seamlessly with its 2D Soulslike platforming and looks absolutely beautiful while it does it. Bosses, in particular, are a feast for the eyes and an exercise for the fingers. It can be overwhelming but incredibly fulfilling when those bosses go down.

#7 Dead Cells

  • Developer: Motion Twin
  • Publisher: Motion Twin
  • Released: 2018

If you want to talk about -likes, roguelikes dominate a fair share of the gaming market. The randomized element offers a new challenge with each run, keeping these games from getting stale and repetitive. Now imagine mixing the two: randomized challenges and difficult combat.

That’s Dead Cells in a nutshell. The progress route may seem similar in each run, as do the bosses, but it’s the “getting there” bit that evokes a Soulslike challenge. With a massive variety in weapon and skill pickups, each run offers a consistent yet varying challenge each time.

#6 Mortal Shell

  • Developer: Cold Symmetry
  • Publisher: Playstack
  • Released: 2020

The closest to a Dark Souls title on this list, Mortal Shell could easily be dismissed as a lackluster clone. Under that shell, however, is a pleasantly surprising twist on the formula. For one, players don’t get free reign to build a character. Players must select a prebuilt character and do their best to utilize their strengths and weaknesses.

The difficulty comes from which one is used (as well as the normal Souls ass-kicking), meaning players decide just how much pressure they want to put on themselves. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

#5 The Surge 2

  • Developer: Deck13 Interactive
  • Publisher: Focus Entertainment
  • Released: 2019

Told you we’d revisit it. While the first Surge missed more marks than it hit, the potential was there. Who better to make those needed improvements than the company that made the first one?

The Surge 2 is a vast upgrade, offering better visuals, brighter-looking environments, and above all, much more refined combat and difficulty. The biggest improvement was in the story, and how enjoyable it felt to push through to find out what exactly was going on. Add in some slow-motion combat finishes, and futuristic Dark Souls lives on through this game.

#4 Hollow Knight

  • Developer: Team Cherry
  • Publisher: Team Cherry
  • Released: 2017

Hollow Knight is a very deceptive game. It looks cute with its Flash art-style characters, but beneath that, it offers a surprisingly dark story that needs to be experienced to be believed.

You, the Hollow Knight, are sent to explore a once-flourishing kingdom that’s been infected by something strange. The game’s combat is engaging enough to warrant sticking through for multiple playthroughs. It may look deceptively adorable, but there’s as much challenge here as the Unkindled have to suffer through in Dark Souls.

#3 Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition

  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Released: 2020

The first Nioh was dismissed by many as a shameless, arcade-esque clone of Dark Souls. It didn’t feel like it had the depth that a Souls game did, and was just hard for the sake of being hard. Yet rather than accept defeat, Team Ninja came back with a sequel to prove us naysayers wrong.

A much tighter combat system coupled with a better sense of progression makes Nioh 2 a much better game than its predecessor. The story is still absolutely bananas, being a Team Ninja game after all, but that fades away when you hit a satisfactory milestone in the game.

#2 Blasphemous

  • Developer: The Game Kitchen
  • Publisher: Team17
  • Released: 2019

Religion and gaming never seem like a good pairing, unless the plot usually ends with “destroy some type of God,” often seen in JRPG’s. Blasphemous is different, offering a loose take on Christianity in a fictionalised area similar to Spain. Well, until players are taking on winged beasts and monstrous bosses, at least.

Blasphemous is also difficult, seeing The Penitent One (the player character) face many a platforming and battle challenge. You will die often, be it from pitfall or punishment. It’s a Soulslike Metroidvania to its very core, offering up the hardest aspects of both. Yet it also offers up some gorgeous, old-school visuals and extremely visceral combat to goad players into seeing it through.

#1 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

  • Developer: Respawn Entertainment
  • Publisher: EA
  • Released: 2019

It may seem odd to call a Star Wars title number one and call it a day, but hear us out. This title was made by Respawn, who made the excellent and criminally underrated Titanfall 2. It’s also a blast. C’mon, it’s Star Wars and you get to be a Jedi. What more do you need?

While Jedi: Fallen Order does offer a variety of easy accessibility modes for those who just want the story, the challenge is also there for those that seek it. With satisfying lightsaber combat, the emphasis is on utilising all of Cal’s skills, techniques, and parrying abilities to get the upper hand on the Empire. Paired with a planetary system that rewards backtracking and exploration, Jedi: Fallen Order deserves a playthrough.


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