The term Soulslike originated from the iconic Dark Souls franchise, the first title of which was released by FromSoftware in 2011. A game that belongs to this genre is a take on action-adventure and RPG themes, generally set in a dark-fantasy world. They possess enemies and combat mechanics that are considerably difficult to overcome, which are the very factors that have made this genre quite popular among players worldwide.
Following the release of FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, which won the Game of the Year in 2022, more and more players are discovering Soulslike titles. The extremely grueling combat and the satisfaction of successfully defeating a boss have proven to be a charismatic factor for the playerbase. Thus, many other studios are tracing the Japanese developer’s footsteps to make their own take on this genre.
The following list comprises the 5 best Soulslike games that players should try out in 2023.
Disclaimer: The following article is subjective and reflects the writer’s views.
5 Soulslike games that show the genre’s best work
1) Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PS5, Xbox Series X|S.
Stars Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is arguably one of the best Soulslike games released in recent times. Not only does it chronicle Cal’s adventure throughout the Star Wars universe’s dark-fantasy setting, but also has some great and challenging boss fights in its repertoire.
The protagonist goes on a journey to rejuvenate the Jedi Order and relieve people who are tormented under the Empire’s hands. The game also beautifully portrays the environment of several planets in the universe, which are home to some of the biggest challenges the players will face.
The gameplay harnesses the famous lightsaber combat, pushed to an entirely new standard. The ability to deflect and parry is the key in both close-quarter and distanced battles. Moreover, the parkour is great and works pretty well with the combat.
The usage of brain-tearing puzzles and extensive parkour-driven movement throughout the game gives the players a great gameplay experience. The title forces them to learn the mechanics by heart as the constant exposure to different puzzles, difficult parkour situations, and copious amounts of enemies are massive challenges in themselves.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order also supports a regulated difficulty system that you can change at any point in the game. It is quite contrary to popular souls belief. The title’s graphics, even though released in 2019, still seem fresh in 2023. Since it’s a well-optimized game, it runs quite smoothly on all platforms. Thus, it surely promises a good experience to the players, whether they’re Star Wars’ fans or not.
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5.
Nioh is an action-packed role-playing game that was developed by Team Ninja and published by Sony worldwide in 2017.
It is famous for its beautiful feudal Japan setting in a dark-fantasy world, with a plethora of challenging boss fights to tackle all along the playthrough. The first Nioh is set in the year 1600 in Japan, where an Irish sailor named William Adams is inspired by a legendary Englishman who became a samurai. Essentially, it takes place in the final period of the Sengoku era during the reign of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his efforts to unify the nation.
The gameplay is challenging as it involves clearing various levels by defeating monsters and difficult bosses with the help of Ki management. Players can use various sword stances for different enemies, depending on the latter’s stats. The titles revolves around the collection of experience points and gold, which gamers can use for acquiring new weapons and armor. Nioh is famous for its dark-fantasy setting with challenging fights throughout the game, which make it a prime example of the Soulslike genre.
Nioh 2, released in 2020, is a sequel to the game. It has a very similar combat moveset and an action-RPG foundation, and is as challenging as its predecessor. The title has a new character-creation model, where players can create and customize their characters. Moreover, they get a yokai spirit too. Like the first entry in the series, players need to acquire new skills, abilities, and weapons to clear the game.
3) Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was developed by FromSoftware and published worldwide by Activision in 2019, and won the Game of the Year. It completely revamps the combat from the earlier FromSoftware games, especially since the combat is more fast-paced and parry-based. The title is famous for its hard-to-master combat and with the beautiful visuals, it is one of the best Soulsborne games ever.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice revolves around feudal Japan of the Sengoku Era. A ninja called Wolf takes on an entire kingdom for the sake of relieving his master from the curse of immortality.
The game has a grueling and fast-paced combat system and is filled with a plethora of bosses. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is challenging for new Souls players as the fresh parry mechanism is the way to go in this game, instead of dodging. The new Posture bar for the enemies is immensely important and players can decide the outcome of any battle instantly once they fill it. Similarly, they must prevent their posture bar from filling, since it will ensure a stance-break against themselves as well.
4) Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X|S.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty belongs to the action-RPG genre and is created by Team Ninja, the makers of the previously mentioned Nioh series. It was released on March 3, 2023, and has kept the fans of the Soulslike genre very busy since then.
The environment of feudal China and challenging boss fights are on another level entirely, something the Souls enthusiasts will surely be looking forward to. The game portrays a nameless soldier who fights different monsters and faces bewildering obstacles along his journey in a dark-fantasy setting.
The combat system is similar to Nioh and the progression is linear. Thanks to its beautiful environment and stunning visuals, it has already won the appreciation of the community.
The players can create their avatars in the character-customization menu and can choose between one of the five phases. The combat is largely based on parrying and deflection of attacks, while creating counter opportunities to deal immense damage to the enemies.
Every enemy has a specific “morale rank,” which indicates the difficulty of the encounter. Difficult battles will reward the players with more valuable loot. Once the spirit bar is filled, gamers can unleash a spirit move with the Divine Beast, which comes after they’ve picked one from the five choices present.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty already is one of the most promising Soulslike games of 2023. The community can expect some challenging enemies and brilliant combat throughout the game.
5) Hollow Knight: Silksong
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Linux, macOS, Nintendo Switch.
Price: Free, if backed the original on Kickstarter.
Hollow Knight: Silksong is being made by Team Cherry and is one of the most anticipated entries this year. Not only will it have a brilliant combat system to boast of, but will also have a great environmental setting. This upcoming title is an ideal representation of a Soulslike game, but in a 2D world, and is tentatively scheduled to be released by June 2023.
Monsters and challenging obstacles will ravage the haunted world of the game, and there will be various challenging levels to clear too. The combat seems lethal and enjoyable, and it surely looks like one of the more enjoyable games inspired by Dark Souls.
The main character of the game is Hornet, the princess of Hallownest and also the protector of the land. She will find herself transported to a different world, from where she must fight her way out tackling all the difficult battles along the road.
The game started as an idea for a DLC for the previous title, Hollow Knight. The said title has now sold more than 2.8 million copies. Team Cherry decided to make Silksong a completely new entry due to the main entry garnering such high sales. Thus, anyone who had supported Hollow Knight on Kickstarter will get Hollow Knight: Silksong for absolutely free.
The game promises to be enjoyable and should not be underestimated due to its 2D nature.
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