FromSoftware’s masterpiece action-RPG, Dark Souls, melded several elements together perfectly. An emphasis on crunching tactical combat, an intricate game world that generously rewarded players who explored Lordran to its fullest, and a deep and rich lore told through environmental storytelling, rather than a traditional RPG exposition dump.
A huge hit both critically and commercially, it’s proven to be hugely influential over the last decade. Many games have borrowed elements from the Souls formula, while others appear to have recreated FromSoftware’s innovative mechanics wholesale, inventing a new sub-genre: The Soulslike.
These homages to Dark Souls appeared quickly, hoping to cater to a rapidly growing fanbase by offering similarly challenging games with matching depth. Anyone who’d gotten hooked on Dark Souls needed something to provide that dopamine hit between FromSoftware games.
Other games in FromSoftware’s catalogue (Demon's Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro) won’t appear on the list. Instead, we’ll look at what other developers have created by iterating on From’s formula.
Some wear this influence proudly on their sleeve, like a Dark Souls cover band playing their version of the hits. Other games may be less obviously influenced, but they are all excellent.
10. Immortal: Unchained
Immortal: Unchained feels like it was unfairly overlooked.
Reviews of the game were mixed, but for the Souls fan there’s some intriguing elements here. The game took a different approach to its contemporaries, creating a Soulslike focused on ranged combat. Bows and swords are swapped out for shotguns and sniper rifles.
The game’s sci-fi setting is loosely based on Norse mythology and the plot revolves around warring god-like beings. In true Dark Souls fashion, the player character wakes up in a prison with amnesia and is promptly released so he can slay his way through a pantheon of gods.
At a glance, Immortal: Unchained has more in common with Gears of War than Dark Souls, but it’s quite different in practice; there’s no cover system, so instead you’ll rely on dodging enemy projectiles, waiting for an opportunity to return fire. This game loves a glowing enemy weak spot, and many fights will boil down to figuring out which of your enemies’ attacks leave these weak points exposed.
Immortal: Unchained is more low budget compared to some other games on this list, but if you can look past the slight lack of polish then the game has quite a lot to recommend it.