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Soulslike 10 best games of all-time, ranked

Dan Lipscombe

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| Last updated 

Soulslike 10 best games of all-time, ranked

Featured Image Credit: FromsSoftware

The Soulslike genre has blossomed over the past few years. How do we define a Soulslike? There has to be hardcore combat where death is expected; death causes loss of progress or XP; and we should see enemies respawn after resting at a checkpoint.

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It’s not just FromSoftware games that can be tagged as such. Even Star Wars has gotten in on the action with their Jedi games, and 2D Metroidvanias tend to embrace elements of a Soulslike with games like Hollow Knight and Blasphemous. It’s the 3D games we’re interested in here tough, the ones that pay homage to Demon’s Souls, and we have put together a ranked list of Soulslike games.

Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls 2
Dark Souls 2
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Let’s start the top 10 with a controversial Souls game. Ask most Dark Souls fans and they’ll tell you that the second installment is the weakest. The issue here is that each of the three Souls games is distinctly different, and the second game moved quite far from what was established in the original. Many also believe that Miyazaki’s absence made the game feel ‘too different’ to the first game, and even when revisiting now, it’s Dark Souls 2 that sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not a bad game, though. It just gets looked down on. When you boil it down to the basics, Dark Souls 2 performs equally well and features some brilliant design, especially in the bosses.

Demon’s Souls

Demon's Souls
Demon's Souls
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With Demon’s Souls, we’re specifically looking at the PS5 remake, due to its easy availability. The updated graphics, and some quality-of-life improvements, make this version the one to recommend. It is a little dated now, despite the remake status, but it deserves a place on the list because this is where it all began. On release in 2020, the game was critically acclaimed with many saying it’s the definitive ‘Souls’ experience. Many players look to Demon’s Souls as the most atmospheric of the games and it’s the most distilled experience given its inception, however the lack of variety in the bosses, and specifically their movesets, does hurt this one a little.

Dark Souls

Dark Souls
Dark Souls
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It feels a bit criminal putting Dark Souls in eighth place, but on revisit, it just doesn’t stand up to what our memory likes to create. It’s a game that, when looked at the overall package, is a fantastic experience but when you break it down, it falls short. For example, up until you reach Anor Londo, the game feels fresh and varied. However, if you look at aspects like Bed of Chaos, you can see where the developers began to struggle with time, and from here, the enemies became more trivial and more predictable. While this is an equally groundbreaking game, Dark Souls feels too piecemeal and the quality is spotty.

Remnant 2

Remnant 2
Remnant 2
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Combining shooting elements into a Soulslike isn’t all that new, but having them as a primary focus certainly is. We’ve been able to fire guns and bows across many, if not all, Soulslike titles, but Remnant 2 made it into a feature you could build classes around. This made the genre feel fresh once again, and when you combine this with brilliant storytelling along with some intriguing and devious puzzles, it becomes a standout title in the genre. While some complain of repetitive biomes, many players see Remnant 2 as a game with worthwhile loot and plenty to sink your teeth into when class crafting.

Nioh 2

Nioh 2
Nioh 2

Nioh 2 lets you live out your samurai fantasies with genuinely brilliant combat that feels fast-paced and satisfying. While the story may seem generic in places, there’s no denying the world-building on display, which comes from the period of history, but also the stunning creature designs. While definitely part of the Soulslike genre, Nioh 2 relies heavily on combos for its combat forcing the player to take more risks stringing together attacks and dodges, which makes it feel like the most fluid game on this list. It also looks gorgeous, with the game being broken down into missions through a variety of areas.

Lies of P

Lies of P
Lies of P

When we first heard about Lies of P, there was some skepticism. Being based on Pinocchio, it didn’t really sell itself as a Soulslike title. However, upon release it became easy to see this was a welcome addition, bringing with it plenty of new features that filled out the genre standpoints. Perhaps the inclusion of puppets and the creepy aesthetic of the world elevates this title, as it plays with what makes the Souls worlds so vague while bolstering it with a decent story filled with unique enemies. Some may argue against its placement on this list but as one of the newer Soulslike games, it does a good job of epitomising the genre as a whole.

Sekiro

Sekiro
Sekiro

Sekiro arrived on the scene doing something very different to previous FromSoftware games. While many of the Soulslike tentpoles still exist within the game, the combat and character progression were completely new. So was the use of a predetermined character, rather than letting players create one from scratch. The reliance on skill trees, and the removal of varied weapons, distilled the combat down to the player’s skill, rather than class-crafting. It took a lot of practice and a shifting mindset to conquer Sekiro, defining it as a game where “get good” really felt like a mantra, because if you can’t parry, you’re not going to have a good time. But when that combat clicks, it’s a staggeringly wonderful game in every aspect.

Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3

We’ve already touched on how each Dark Souls game feels distinctly different from the others, and this is no more pronounced than with Dark Souls 3. When you hold up all three games, the third iteration, quite rightly, is the most streamlined and refined of the trilogy. It got rid of bad ideas and expanded the series’ greatest moments, giving us some of the best enemies and some truly outstanding bosses. While many will argue against it, Dark Souls 3 was also the most accessible of the bunch, bringing in leagues of new players who then worked backward through the releases, though it kept long-time fans happy with callbacks to the original game. It should also be mentioned that the DLC was utterly exceptional, bringing new levels of difficulty and lots of lovely lore.

Bloodborne

Bloodborne
Bloodborne

With fast-paced action and a gruesome and gothic world, Bloodborne has stood the test of time. It was superb upon release, and it’s superb now. There’s a reason why Bloodborne fans are constantly begging for a sequel or a remake - it took everything from the Souls games and refined it. The combat is rewarding, exploring the world feels worth the time, and the atmosphere is genuinely creepy. When you boil it down to things like sound design, enemy crafting, and lore, it features no bum notes. Bloodborne nails every composite part and collects it together in an endlessly replayable action game that feels punishing, but rewards you for besting its beasts.

Elden Ring

Elden Ring
Elden Ring

There’s little doubt that the king of Soulslike games is the biggest, most expansive, and involved game of the genre, Elden Ring. No matter which facet of the game you look at, you’re likely to see brilliance - whether that’s in the enveloping world of The Lands Between that keeps you feeling lost, while also urging you to stray, or the multitude of classes to be used. Then, there’s the lore which is so deep it takes hours and hours of YouTube videos to summarise simple points.

This is before we look at the superb enemy variation, the bosses who felt threatening and terrifying, and the countless combinations of abilities, weapons, and spells. Elden Ring constantly feels overwhelming but in the same way a banquet would - all those amazing things brought together is a treat that will keep you returning to the table. And it’s not just a great Soulslike, but simply one of the best games of the past decade.

Topics: Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Demons Souls, Elden Ring, Fromsoftware, Opinion

Dan Lipscombe
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