Every FromSoftware Souls-Like Game Ranked
VOICE OVER: Aaron Brown
WRITTEN BY: Aaron Brown
FromSoftware has revolutionized game difficulty with its acclaimed Soulsborne games, but which one is the best? For this list, we're gonna “git gud” and rank every FromSoftware Souls-Borne-Shadows-Ring title. Our list includes "Dark Souls" (2011), "Demon's Souls" (2009), "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice" (2019), and more!
Script written by Aaron Brown
FromSoftware has revolutionized game difficulty with its acclaimed Soulsborne games, but which one is the best? For this list, we’re gonna “git gud” and rank every FromSoftware Souls-Borne-Shadows-Ring title. Our list includes "Dark Souls" (2011), "Demon's Souls" (2009), "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice" (2019), and more! What’s your favorite Souls game moment? Know of any other Souls-like games that are worth a look? Let us know in the comments below.
“Otogi: Myth of Demons” (2003) & “Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors” (2004)
While not true Souls games in the traditional sense, having been published long before Hidetaka Miyazaki joined FromSoftware, much of the Souls DNA can still be found in these original Xbox titles. From the tough but fair combat, a long warrior battling legions of demons and the undead, and the non-traditional approach to story-telling, the Otogi titles laid much of the groundwork FromSoftware would come to be known for with the Souls series many years later. While these titles never managed to take off the way future endeavors would, fans of FromSoftware games would be remiss to leave these classics out of the conversation when discussing Souls games.
“Dark Souls II” (2014)
The only title on this list NOT to be directed by series mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki, besides the aforementioned Otogi titles, Dark Souls II took quite a few deviations from the original Dark Souls formula, much to the disappointment of many die hard fans of the original Dark Souls game. While not a complete misstep, Dark Souls II mostly did away with the original’s interconnected world and was largely criticized for its lack of diversity amongst its enemies, with the majority falling under the giant suits of armor cliche. There are still many who defend Dark Souls II as another solid entry in the franchise and while we agree there’s not really a bad game in the bunch, when compared to the other Souls titles, it simply doesn’t hit the same high bar set by those that came before and after it.
“Demon’s Souls” (2009)
Originally projected to be a massive failure by many, including those on the dev team, the original Demon’s Souls was a title not even PlayStation had faith in, despite their publishing deal with FromSoftware. However, when a young Hidetaka Miyazaki came on board, he saw the title as an opportunity to make the game he always wanted to: a deep medieval fantasy title that didn’t hold the player’s hand every step of the way and let them discover the world for themselves. Initially the title didn’t debut well in Japan, but American audiences immediately showered the game with both critical and commercial success. Sony now had a bonafide hit on the PS3 that was unlike any other title on the market and was even so beloved, it was given a gorgeous remake treatment by BluePoint Games as a launch title for the PlayStation 5.
“Dark Souls III” (2016)
Returning to the series he helped create after taking a break to visit the streets of Yharnam, Miyazaki brought the story of the first flame to its epic conclusion with Dark Souls III. The culmination of all the previous titles with some new tricks thrown in, Dark Souls III was a more than worthy sendoff to the series that made FromSoftware a household name. Released to both critical and commercial success, Dark Souls III was Bandai Namco’s fastest selling title at the time of release, shipping 3 million copies in only its first two months of release. Dark Souls III also returned to the series' interconnected world and received 2 substantial DLCs that were equally well received. While Miyazaki hasn’t completely ruled out another entry in the Dark Souls franchise, this is more than a worthy sendoff should the company choose to end the series on its highest note.
“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” (2019)
Sekiro was a major departure from previous titles, focusing not only more on a real(ish) world setting of Feudal Japan, but also making stealth and vertical traversal the main focus of not only gameplay but combat as well. Sekiro follows “The Wolf” and his mission to rescue a young boy under his protection. The Wolf is also granted the ability to resurrect himself should he fall in battle, giving players a strategic edge when the enemy’s back is turned. Viewed by many fans as a spiritual successor to the Tenchu series, albeit with FromSoftware’s traditional tough-as-nails gameplay and over-the-top boss fights, many fans who had mastered Dark Souls’ combat found themselves struggling to retrain their muscle memory and get a handle on Sekiro’s all important “Parry” system. For those who persevered, Sekiro was just as rewarding an experience as any traditional FromSoftware Souls entry.
“Dark Souls” (2011)
The game that put FromSoftware on the map and spawned a series of clones and copy cat games known as “Souls-likes”, the impact of Dark Souls on the gaming landscape simply cannot be understated. From its combat, world building and even its control setup, the original Dark Souls DNA can be felt in the myriad of RPG titles that came after it. Dark Souls was lightning in a bottle and the world couldn’t get enough of it. Dark Souls catapulted series creator Hidetaka Miyazki to the halls of the most well known and respected game designers and the series eventually led him to becoming President of FromSoftware. As many titles still follow in Dark Souls’ footsteps even today, it's hard to imagine the gaming landscape without the influence of the series that took the world by storm.
Taking a break from medieval fantasy, Bloodborne transports players to the city of Yharnam and all its eldritch horrors. To escape this gothic fantasy world, players must gather the blood of the monsters hunting throughout Yharnam and end the plague once and for all. Bloodborne’s combat system is the series’ most drastic change to date; forcing gamers to play more offensively than defensively. Bloodborne doesn’t even feature a traditional block button. Players are encouraged to attack head on and if they are hit, are given a small window to reclaim that health should they deal enough damage to their attacker. The game’s marketing also did an incredible job hiding the title’s true Lovecraftian horrors and is a world gamers are still eager to revisit with a sequel being one of PlayStation’s most requested titles.
"Elden Ring" (2022)
Calling Elden Ring, “Open World Dark Souls” isn’t completely inaccurate, but it also undersells what FromSoftware and Hidetaka Miyazki have accomplished with The Lands Between. In an era where players are not only bombarded with map icons and guided by hand to their destination, Elden Ring set players loose in a world with virtually no assistance and told them to make their own path. The Lands Between is full of interesting locations and bosses just waiting to make you very familiar with the series’ iconic “You Died” screen. Elden Ring not only manages to expand on everything FromSoft had done before but also improve upon many of the open world tropes that have become so commonplace in modern gaming. Elden Ring has become a cultural phenomenon with both gamers and critics, making it one of the highest rated games of all time on Metacritic and an unquestionable commercial success worldwide.