soulslike games


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Soulslike refers to a genre of video games that are, to varying degrees, inspired by the gameplay of the Dark Souls series. "Soulslike" games will feature mechanics and settings that are hallmarks of the Dark Souls series, including, but not limited to, challenging gameplay that rewards players for executing at a high level, third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, emphasis on exploration, dark or deteriorating locations, mysterious dialogue and objectives, and similar checkpoint systems. The term has led to some debate as to what constitutes a "Soulslike" video game, as well as jokes about people who over-eagerly claim that various games are similar to Dark Souls.


Following the success of FromSoftware's Demon's Souls (2009) and Dark Souls (2011), game studios began developing titles that attempted to recreate some aspects of the franchise.[1] The first notable "Soulslike" was 2014's Lords of the Fallen, which aped Dark Souls setting and various combat mechanics to lukewarm critical reviews.[2] On October 25th, 2014, Vaatividya posted a review of Lords of the Fallen, opining that it would be "the first in a coming trend of Soulslike games" (emphasis added).

Over the following years, several other games attracted the "Soulslike" moniker, including several FromSoftware titles, including Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Elden Ring.


The definition of a "Soulslike" is subject to debate, as journalists, developers, and fans have identified aspects of Dark Souls in many video game titles but have quibbled over how close many Dark Souls-esque mechanics make a game a "Soulslike." On September 24th, 2016, Urban Dictionary user ChineseHacker[3] posted a definition for "Soulslike," writing, "A game that features elements similar to the game Dark Souls, e.g. skill based, steep difficulty, focus on bosses, punishing deaths, rich enviroment" (shown below).

Soulslike A game that features elements similar to the game Dark Souls. e.g. skill based, steep difficulty, focus on bosses, punishing deaths, rich enviroment. Some soulslikes are Titan Souls or Necropolis by ChineseHacker September 24, 2016 y f

Wikipedia's[4] definition describes a "Soulslike" as "a subgenre of action role-playing and action-adventure games known for high levels of difficulty and emphasis on environmental storytelling, typically in a dark fantasy setting." It adds, "the core concepts of high difficulty, repeated character death driving player knowledge and mastery of the game world, sparsity of save points, and giving information to the player through indirect, environmental storytelling are sometimes seen in games in very different genres, the mechanics of which are sometimes described as Soulslike."

In 2022, several game developers who worked on games that attracted the "Soulslike" moniker spoke to Gamesradar[1] about the definition. Dead Cells developer Arthur Decamp offered a definition of "uncompromising action and deep mechanics." Salt and Sanctuary developer James Silva added that "deliberate and meaningful exploration" is a hallmark of a "Soulslike" game. Mortal Shell developer Kiron Ramdewar added "the better Souls-likes have a sense of loneliness and overbearing struggle that almost oppresses the player – their world-building and atmosphere are just as important as their tight hitboxes or twisted enemy design."

Interestingly, the developers did not agree on whether high difficulty was necessary for a game to be considered a "Soulslike," but they agreed the euphoria of overcoming a challenge was a hallmark of the genre.

Notable "Soulslike" Games

The games that are most widely considered "Soulslike" are those that usually borrow Dark Souls emphasis on precise, purposeful combat, careful exploration and challenging boss fights. These include: Ni-oh, Salt and Sanctuary, Remnant: From the Ashes, Ashen, Jedi: Fallen Order, Code Vein and The Surge. [5][6] Several games that also fit into the Metroidvania genre have been included in lists of "Soulslike" games, including Hollow Knight, Blasphemous and Ender Lilies.[7]

"It's Just Like Dark Souls!"

The various definitions for "Soulslike" games have inspired some debate and jokes about what constitutes a "Soulslike" game. The genre's supposed emphasis on high difficulty led several to compare games of various genres to Dark Souls, even if they shared little else in common. This helped popularize the "The Dark Souls of X!" meme, in which players poked fun at gaming journalists and marketers that attempted to say video games were reminiscent of the Souls series. Games that notably were targets of these jokes were Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Cuphead.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Games Radar – What Is A Soulslike

[2] Metacritic – Lords of the Fallen

[3] Urban Dictionary – Soulslike

[4] Wikipedia – Soulslike

[5] GameRant – Soulslike Games Tier List

[6] IGN – The Best Soulslike Games

[7] Gameranx – 18 Best Soulslike Games of All Time

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