Skip to main content
7 ton shark

Dark Souls #

A Dark Souls and Soulslikes appreciation page!

I've always enjoyed video games, but Dark Souls and the genre that has sprung up around it scratches a particular gaming itch that really works for me. There are many definitions of what a Soulslike is, but below I've listed what I look for personally when thinking about this genre.

Vibes #

Upper Latria area from Demon Souls

My summary of how cool or fun the levels are, how interconnected the world is, how fun the bosses are, and so on. Bonus points for creative themes, levels that connect in interesting ways, enemy variety and creativity, unique boss encounters, and so on.

Combat Feel #

Vanguard Boss from Demon's Souls

Overall game and combat mechanics. The core of any Soulslike -- basic attacking, dodging, blocking/parrying needs to be solid and responsive, with as few quirks and edge cases as possible. Bonus points for interesting features or abilities go here too (e.g. the Spirit Ashes in Elden Ring or prosthetic arms in Sekiro and Lies of P).

Heavy Metal #

Black Knight Greatsword from Dark Souls

I gravitate towards really heavy, really slow pieces of metal -- my favorite games are the ones where pumping points into strength and weight eventually reward you with a high-damage, high-stagger, high-range sword to swing around, trading speed and agility for spacing and damage.

Some games just don't have this option (e.g. Sekiro), so they get low points even if Combat Feel is excellent.

Endgame (aka New Game Plus) #

Kasha from Nioh 2

I have always loved the classic formula where NG+ and NG++ involve replaying the game at a higher level, where new drops of higher-tier rings and armor are available. If the game mixes up where enemies spawn, or replaces enemies with higher-tier variants, or gives old enemies new moves, that's a big bonus here. If the game has incentives for completing multiple times, such as different endings, that's another way to earn a couple points here.

Some games have an actual "endgame" as well (like Bloodborne's Chalice Dungeons and Nioh 2's Underworld); this is also a bonus.

Difficulty #

Owl Father Boss from Sekiro

Difficulty level, which encompasses both positives and negatives. I appreciate a game willing to have enemies leap out of hiding places and shove you off of ledges, or unexpected trapdoors that kill you, or chests that were safe in NG and are now insta-kill mimics in NG+. The more unfair the game is, the sweeter it is navigating every trap and pitfall with ease in your NG+2 playthrough.

A very high difficulty score generally means that you cannot continue without stopping and learning every move and wind-up, and developing a strategy for every possible attack a boss can use. It means there are boss fights that require not one, not ten, but maybe hundreds of attemps to beat. It often means you don't have other options, such as an AI helper or human ringer you can call in.

Multiplayer #

Dark Spirit Destroyed message from Dark Souls 3

Multiplayer -- either cooperative (Praise the Sun!) or invasion style. Fun, interesting multiplayer mechanics are a bonus. Games with no multiplayer at all are fine with me, but it does add a little extra spice to the Soulslike formula. At least partial points for systems that offer some kind of interactivity (e.g. player ghosts) even if it's not direct interaction.