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Games Like Dark Souls You Can Play Today

FromSoftware's "Dark Souls" series is a favorite of many hardcore gamers. It also kicked off what has been deemed the "'Souls'-like" sub-genre, which is generally focused on piling sheer difficulty onto a game's base combat mechanics. Of course, the hope is still that the gameplay is ultimately fair and balanced — even in an environment that constantly tries to hurt the player, rather than help them.


But surely, some "Souls"-like games are better than others. In particular, those that embrace a complex lore while implementing challenging gameplay are the ones that seem to rise above the rest. Some are exactly like "Dark Souls" and can squarely be put in the action-RPG genre, complete with a third-person camera and strategic combat. Others, however, have very distant mechanics that set them apart from "Dark Souls," but are nonetheless a brutal challenge for even the most experienced players. 

If you've played "Dark Souls" to death and want a new challenge, you may be able to scratch that itch with these challenging titles.


An obvious choice among fans of "Dark Souls," "Bloodborne" was also developed by FromSoftware, arriving on the scene in 2015 to amazing reception and a Metacritic score of 92. As pointed out by Screen Rant, the game was notable for establishing its own identity by placing less of a focus on blocking and more of an emphasis on dodging and counterattacks.


If you're new to "Souls"-likes, beware: "Bloodborne" isn't for everyone. Like its spiritual predecessors, "Bloodborne" offers a more-than-brutal challenge to both newcomers and experienced gamers. If you're familiar with "Souls"-likes to any degree, you should know that "Bloodborne" is a very different beast. With much faster combat than "Dark Souls" and bosses even tougher than the hardest "Dark Souls" bosses, "Bloodborne" is definitely one of the most intimidating "Souls"-likes out there.

Moreover, if it turns out you're a fan of "Bloodborne," it could well be worth checking out "The Old Hunters" DLC, which expands on the lore and offers even greater challenges.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

2019's "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice," also by FromSoftware, may at first seem like an easier experience than its predecessors, offering the player the blessed ability to revive post-mortem. However, even given that advantage, as well as the option to use stealth over combat, the game is arguably just as frustrating an experience as the "Dark Souls" trilogy and "Bloodborne."


With a 90 on Metacritic, the game is quite comparable in quality and reception to FromSoftware's other works. Taking place in ancient Japan, a far cry from medieval and Victorian settings in "Dark Souls" and "Bloodborne," the game is similar to "Bloodborne" in that it is more fast-paced than the "Dark Souls" series of games. However, "Sekiro" ups the ante with an even quicker pace of gameplay, and has bosses that are different from the mythical beasts and otherworldly beings occupying the aforementioned games.

As a FromSoftware game that delivers a significantly different experience from its predecessors, as well as the fantastic Resurrection system, it may be the best FromSoftware-developed "Souls"-like for newcomers to check out.


The Nioh series

Nioh, released in 2017 and developed by Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame, was an immediate hit with critics, garnering an aggregate score of 88 on Metacritic. While the game was criticized for grind, it was ultimately praised for blending elements of "Dark Souls" with the style of "Ninja Gaiden." Like "Dark Souls," it can take numerous times to try and defeat bosses in "Nioh," as they require a keen sense of timing.


"Nioh 2" was released in 2019 to similar praise. The sequel expanded on the original "Nioh" with better presentation and an equal (if not higher) level of difficulty. Suffice it to say, if you are a fan of the original "Nioh," you'll probably find a lot to love about "Nioh 2."

In February 2021, "Nioh" and "Nioh 2" were both released as part of a complete edition for PS5, providing a great opportunity for "Dark Souls" fans to try out one of the industry's best "Souls"-like series, all in one package. With similarly deep lore and iconic atmospheres, "Nioh" and "Nioh 2" may even give the "Dark Souls" series and "Bloodborne" a run for their money.

The Surge series

"The Surge" might be one of the most interesting "Souls"-like titles to date, at least for players who are looking for something that uses nearly the same gameplay mechanics as "Dark Souls." Embracing the sci-fi genre rather than a medieval setting, 2016's "The Surge" placed a major focus on strategic combat where the player must hit and dodge with precise timing. With terrific presentation, an engaging story, and tried-and-true gameplay, "The Surge" is poised to appeal to those with a hankering for more Dark Souls-esque experiences.


"The Surge 2" managed to improve on the original title, with GameSpot noting that it improved combat exponentially. Further, it remained just as challenging and rewarding an experience. "The Surge 2" was generally received better than the original title, with an aggregate score of 75 on Metacritic, compared to the original's 73. However, both are still worthy experiences. Whether you're a longtime "Dark Souls" player or a science fiction fan ready to take their skill to the next level, "The Surge" offers an exciting and unique gaming experience.


"Cuphead" may be a far, far cry from the previous titles listed, but it nonetheless offers a tremendous challenge. Released in 2017 to an aggregate score of 88 on Metacritic (PC version), "Cuphead" was praised for its tight run 'n' gun gameplay and for maintaining a steady, brutal difficulty throughout the entirety of the game.


Of course, even above its blistering difficulty and insanely challenging boss fights, the game is highly unique for its presentation and sound, which authentically mimic the cartoons of the 1930s and 1940s. Comparing the presentation and aesthetic of "Dark Souls" to "Cuphead" is very much comparing apples to oranges, but the graphics in "Cuphead" are nonetheless extremely memorable.

"Cuphead" may not entirely fit within the traditional definition of a "Souls"-like (despite the existence of a parody of "Dark Souls" in the style of "Cuphead""). However, in terms of difficulty, "Cuphead" easily holds its own against "Souls"-likes more demonstrative of the sub-genre.