My obsession with Soulsborne games has led to some of my most rewarding gaming experiences… as well as been the bane of my existence. When I say “Soulsborne” games, I’m referring to FromSoftware’s quintology: Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Dark Souls III, and Bloodborne.
It is no secret that FromSoftware’s Souls series is remembered fondly (and frustratingly) for its difficulty. Though really, when you think about it, we have it easy nowadays. Going back to the NES generation where you couldn’t even save some games made Ghosts n’ Goblins and Double Dragon truly some of the toughest video game experiences.
Developing Love for the Dark Souls Series
Despite not being the most difficult games I’ve played, Souls games are by no means a walk in the proverbial park. My first experience with the game series was when Demon Souls came out in 2009. I actually struggled with the game so much early on that I ended up putting my controller down and forgetting about it… until Dark Souls came out and I found myself stuck closer to the end of the game. To train myself up, I decided to go back to the beginning of the series by returning to Demon Souls.
By the time I got to the end of that game, I was finally hooked into the formula that was the Souls games. When I was a young gamer, I rarely finished games, finding myself distracted by something shiny, aka a new game. Demon Souls is one of the first games I can remember beating. There was just something so satisfying about finally beating a boss or being able to fly through an area you memorized because you died so many times. I’m also not a person who ever really lets my anger out, so being able to take it out while playing the game really helps.
But my real love affair with the Souls series though is with Bloodborne. The gothic architecture played on my love of horror and the few characters you could interact with led to rewarding experiences. This game is the reason why PlayStation won the console wars for me.
When I describe my taste in games to people, I often default to talking about my love of Soulsborne games, specifically citing the fact that I don’t have to sit through cutscenes that feel like they’re an hour long. You can learn about the lore of the world through items you pick up in the game, which suits me just fine. Just don’t ask me to tell you the plot of any of these games…
My love for the Souls games led me to seek out other games with similar tough-to-beat difficulties and game mechanics. I have found quite a few hidden gems and have plenty more on my to-play list. I would be remiss to not give special mentions to a few of these fun experiences.
Nioh felt like a step back difficulty-wise from the Souls game, excluding the absurdly hard optional double boss fights the game gifts you at the end. It introduced the fun concept of a living weapon as well as different stances. Going back to Nioh recently, I’ve never felt more awesome than when I was slicing and dicing at an absurdly high level that I earned. Now, to get through the epilogue and those pesky optional boss battles…
During my brief time testing out streaming, I only played two games, and both were Souls-like in design. My favorite of the two was Salt and Sanctuary felt like a really fun 2d spin from the Souls genre, introducing some fun mechanics like a gravity-related mechanic. It is also one of those rare games that I’ve almost 100%’d. The other was Necropolis, which takes the unique twist of making you restart completely whenever you die. Let’s just say I didn’t get very far in this one, but I did enjoy the art style.
Taking a Break From the Bloodshed
I did slightly burn myself out on Souls games. I’ve been on something of a hiatus from them, dipping my toes back into Nioh while Sekiro sits on my shelf unplayed. Has Animal Crossing made me grow soft? I have a feeling I’ll be itching for more bloodshed soon enough. If I ever do find myself with a PlayStation 5, I know the first game I’ll likely be playing is the remade Demon Souls so I can suffer all over again.
While I did not go on to beat every Souls game, I did manage to finish off at least Demon Souls, Dark Souls II, and Bloodborne. Now I just have to drag myself back to the pain that is Dark Souls and Dark Souls III, where my character waits close to the end of the game. How rewarding an experience have you had with Souls games? Share your experiences in the comments below. Also, recommend more Souls-like games for me to play so I can pull my hair out!
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