Elden Ring: 10 Souls-like Games To Play While Waiting
By Sid Natividad
Published Mar 12, 2021
Eagerly waiting on Elden Ring? Play these Souls-like games while you wait to keep the frustration alive.
Elden Ring has yet to reveal its true identity but all bets lead to it being similar to Dark Souls but open-world. So it stands within reason that you’re not prepared for it. In fact, no one is too prepared for a Souls game, what with little information available with Elden Ring right now. However, based on the title and some shady leaks, it looks like a dark fantasy game as well.
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With that in mind, in order to truly prepare yourself for Elden Ring, getting in the zone with similar dark fantasy Souls-like games can be helpful. After all, it looks like we have plenty of months between us and Elden Ring. Best get to honing that Souls-like skills you got and if you’re tired of Dark Souls or Bloodborne, then other Souls-like games should fill in as training dummies. Prepare to die again in these titles.
Looking for something close, mechanics-wise? Then Ashen might just scratch that slow combat itch that Dark Souls left behind. It’s a familiar game for any Souls game fan down to the health bar and the dodge animations.
Storywise, Ashen puts the players in the role of a wanderer looking for their place in an uncharted world. It’s not as oppressive as Dark Souls for that matter but the game does a good job of making players emotional thanks to the atmosphere and general frustration they’ll suffer.
Speaking of suffering, if that’s what you’re after in a Souls-like game, then Nioh 2 manages to be even more punishing than Dark Souls. This Japanese-themed dark medieval fantasy game has faster combat and more sinister enemies.
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Some players even consider the damage spikes borderline unfair but that’s what you signed up for with this Souls-like game. Nioh 2 does things differently though and the loot is more rewarding with more complex combat.
Is Nioh 2’s complexity a bummer? Well thankfully, a Souls-like game exists that is considered “Souls-lite” or (jokingly) “Lite Souls” and that’s Lords of the Fallen. It’s a more casual experience that takes after Dark Souls’ brutal atmosphere and features.
Lords of the Fallen is less punishing and is also notably shorter than Souls games. As usual, the story doesn’t matter and is mostly a pretext to send out the player character to die or persevere in its violent world. Regardless, it’s a good game for those looking to get into the subgenre but want training wheels.
Salt and Sanctuary is a shameless derivative that spices things up with a new perspective— literally since it’s a side-scroller instead of a third-person action RPG. Make no mistake though, it’s very much a Souls-like game down to the combat and mechanics.
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Even the stamina bar is present as well as an inventory and item system that’s all too familiar. Salt and Sanctuary lacks the Souls games’ thematic backbone of obscure lore though and the highlight is mostly the game being a novel Souls-like experience.
Yeah, that dress is not stable enough to support her girls that well.
While on the topic of novel experiences, Code Vein is another unique take on the formula. It’s practically known all over the internet as Anime Souls and it’s easy to see why. Code Vein’s combat and pacing are faster though and they take more creative liberties with their characters.
True enough to the Souls formula, the protagonist is a template— a nobody who doesn’t even know their past. The game then makes the player’s goal to make sense of things by killing ugly monsters over and over again until that one big cinematic.
By far the darkest Souls-like game around, Blasphemous is an infamous and bloody game that toys around with Spanish Inquisition iconography. The game then mixes it up with enough gore to make a vampire obese.
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The game explores its visceral themes in a Metroidvania-style perspective and gameplay. Players are tasked with ridding the land of Cvstodia of a foul curse known as The Miracle. Conveniently enough, the players assume control of a special individual who’s forever trapped in a cycle of death and rebirth which is just a lore explanation for respawning.
One of the latest Souls-like games around, Mortal Shell probably went undetected in many a Souls fans’ radars. The game didn’t exactly do anything revolutionary and even looked like a streamlined version of Dark Souls.
Its gimmick is that it features playable characters called shells whom the players can swap in and out of at their whim. This makes the combat more dynamic as the game utilizes some odd but interesting and fresh mechanics for a Souls game.
Death’s Gambit is a lovely albeit unholy union of Castlevania and Souls games so fans of both franchises should find plenty to like in this side-scrolling Souls-like. Look closer into the art style and the graphics and you might even mistake it for a 16-bit rendition of Dark Souls.
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Needless to say, it’s a decent game that’s perfect for those craving for more of that harsh ambiance. The game adopts a gothic horror style no unlike Souls games but the combat is more forgiving for those worried about the format.
Dark Souls’ formula is simple enough that other games can easily apply it to their core gameplay. Even something as seemingly basic as Titan Souls can easily match Dark Souls with how crushing it can be in terms of difficulty.
So, don’t be fooled by the plain graphics and art of this one; it’s a cruel game. The top-down perspective means players can see what horrors await them at full spatial awareness. This also allows for better puzzle opportunities, making the game both taxing on the reflexes and the brain.
Ender Lilies is only at its early access phase but the game is so phenomenal and atmospheric that it would be a shame to sleep on it. The game’s somber and melancholic mood matches that of Dark Souls 3 except it has a certain beauty to it.
Gameplay-wise, it’s pretty much the standard 2D side-scroller Souls-like but with some genuine twists such as controlling a party or recruiting enemies to obtain their abilities. This modular gameplay paired with the usual RPG mechanics and aesthetics makes it worth anticipating.
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About The Author
(365 Articles Published)
Sid was born, did some stuff, then decided to become a writer.
He finds respite in the sweet embrace of mass media escapism after having risked his life too many times as a journalist covering warzones and depressed areas. Nowadays he mostly risks his bladder as he tries to hold his urine waiting for those precious post-credits scenes at the movies or trying to kill Souls-like bosses. So far it’s going well. Probably.
From Sid Natividad