What defines a soulslike? Is it the punishing difficulty? The desolate atmosphere? Labyrinthine, Metroidvania-esque interconnected locations? The intrinsic environmental storytelling, or the mechanics? While the description of the genre can be pretty loose at times, there have been many attempts at emulating FROMSOFTWARE’s Souls formula, with only a handful really capturing the spirit of what defines the genre. But we’re not here to divide the failures from the successful ones. We’re here to recommend you soulslike titles that may cure the itch if you’re already done with what FROMSOFTWARE has to offer. Without further ado, here are 5 soulslike titles for you to check out. And yeah, no FROMSOFTWARE titles here since those are technically what’s being emulated.
1 Lies of P
Lies of P is a soulslike that perfectly embodies what a soulslike is and captures its spirit. It takes a lot of inspiration from Bloodborne and it isn’t shy about it. While there’s that, it does bring new mechanics into the fold such as the P-Organ, an essential upgrade system that enhances your stats and tools, and grants you various effects to help you with your game. A Lies of P also plays on telling truths and lies heavily to tell its story. The game also gives you flexibility on weapons with changing blades and handles, giving you more room to try out different weapons to try out. It invokes the horror of Bloodborne’s Yharnam, filling its streets with eldritch horrors and mad puppets. So, if that’s your kind of game, Lies of P will definitely be worth your time. It’s included in PC Game Pass. Pretty sure at this point you’re subscribed to that, so yeah have a go at it.
Lies of P: Steam | Xbox | Playstation
2 Mortal Shell
Mortal Shell is one of the very first titles to fully embody the soulslike experience, through its dark and desolate atmosphere, high difficulty, and visual elements from character designs to even the UI. It’s quite unapologetic at it, but we’re fine with it given how it pulls it off in style. It does set itself apart from Dark Souls by letting you play a different “Shell” once you get them. Shells are technically classes that each come with their own unlockable abilities and varying stats. And of course, if you’re feeling brave enough, you can try a shell-less run.
3 CODE VEIN
First impressions you’ll get from CODE VEIN is it’s an anime Dark Souls. Bandai Namco is playing with its strengths on distinct anime style games here given that idea. Unlike most soulslikes CODE VEIN tells its story through chock full of narratives. While the easier difficulty may put off those who prefer the painstakingly difficult setting that comes with FROMSOFT titles, its action-oriented gameplay, while still having the core mechanics of soulslikes can be a breath of fresh air for some. And yeah, if you happen to be a fan of God Eater and you haven’t played this game yet, you’ll be in for a surprise if you do pick this up.
4 Lords of the Fallen (2023 Reboot)
Back when the soulslike genre wasn’t yet established, there was an attempt by Deck13 and CI Games to make one in spirit of Dark Souls. Entitled Lords of the Fallen, the game was serviceable at best but was mired by the comparisons against the legacy of Dark Souls. It tried to capture how methodical the combat of Dark Souls was, but ended up with a frustratingly slow gameplay. That might be nostalgia goggles blocking my clear view, but hey that’s also probably a good reason for a do-over with a reboot. The new Lords of the Fallen is nothing like what it was. Gone are the vibrant visuals and clunky gameplay, and now we’re treated with a smooth and satisfying combat, grotesque setting and enemies, and an interesting dual world mechanic that definitely takes the gameplay up to eleven.
5 Nioh/Nioh 2
Nioh is probably one of the very first successful attempts in a soulslike game. It’s a fast-paced take on the heavily methodical battle system of the genre set in Feudal Japan, and it also has plenty of additions to set itself apart from the Souls games and other soulslikes. You can switch between stances to see what fits your style, use onmyo magic as you see fit, and the added layer on stamina mechanics to help you with your battles. Nioh has plenty to offer those who are looking for a dark fantasy set in the Sengoku era.
So, if you’re up for more challenges outside of FROMSOFTWARE games, you can test your mettle against these games as well. They can be worth your time, especially if you prefer a different style outside of the traditional bleak and brooding medieval fantasy setting that’s staple to the franchise.