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Souls Games You Should Stop Ignoring If You Liked Elden Ring

The open world and pre-launch excitement has turned Elden Ring into a hit both critically and commercially, and has likely drawn in a lot of players who didn’t bother trying to get into FromSoftware’s previous games. The development studio has been creating games since the 90s, and many would argue its first series, King’s Field, is the true progenitor of the Soulslike sub-genre, but FromSoftware’s modern reputation has largely been built on the back of Dark Souls, which still owes its foundation to the cult classic Demon’s Souls, released two years earlier. Elden Ring is by far the most approachable of FromSoftware’s more recent output, but those looking for similar experiences might be interested in the original Dark SoulsBloodborne, or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Elden Ring is something of a culmination of FromSoftware’s work over the last 13 years or so. In many ways, it’s like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro all at once, but Elden Ring also owes a lot of its base identity to Demon’s Souls. In 2009, Demon’s Souls released initially in Japan only, with a North American localization coming eight months later. Bluepoint Games remade Demon’s Souls in 2020, but it is still mechanically outdated in comparison to its successors. Still, for those who have become thoroughly engrossed in Elden Ring, and want to experience the Soulslike lineage in its entirety, both the PS3 and PS5 versions are worth a look.

Related: Elden Ring: How The Loathsome Dung-Eater Got His Name

Demon’s Souls‘ world design really separates it from the rest of the Soulslikes, making it a radical jump from the completely open world of the Lands Between. With the freedom of movement, Elden Ring feels more closely related to Dark Souls, borrowing its signature verticality and interconnected level design that would persist into Bloodborne and Sekiro. That said, even though all three can be considered a part of FromSoftware’s Soulslike catalog, they are very distinct games, and may appeal to Elden Ring fans for different reasons.

Dark Souls Shares Many Of Elden Ring’s Themes

Even though it is now over a decade old, Dark Souls still holds up, and is worth a play through after Elden Ring

Referring to Elden Ring as “Dark Souls in an open world” is a bit reductive, but still an apt comparison. Anyone coming from Elden Ring might find Dark Souls 3 especially familiar, since it is generally the most refined of the trilogy, but there is some extra value in starting the series from the beginning. Compared to Elden Ring, the original Dark Souls might be clunky and noticeably slow, but much of the muscle memory developed in Elden Ring will serve players well. Dark Souls is important to gaming’s last decade in general, but will feel like a sort of Elden Ring tech demo. The combat is essentially the same, with fewer features, and the item variety is roughly equivalent, with some weapons even being the same. A major difference is that the first half of Dark Souls doesn’t allow for fast travel, which may sound like an unnecessary burden, but goes a long way in solidifying its atmosphere, and results in an extremely satisfying feeling when finding the way back to Firelink Shrine or discovering a new bonfire.

That atmosphere especially may appeal to Elden Ring players who like the Lands Between and its lore. Elden Ring keeps Dark Souls‘ themes alive through the way players interact with NPCs and the world, which has a similar, profound loneliness to it. Even the story is not so different; the player takes control of the Chosen Undead, tasked with hunting down those in possession of the Lord Souls. Instead of a sprawling open world, Dark Souls‘ crumbling Lordran is labyrinthine – built on top of itself in a way that turns the game into a grand exploration puzzle. Players similarly have a lot of agency in creating character builds in Dark Souls, and there’s the added bonus of two more games in the series with more of the same.

Bloodborne Has Greater Cosmic Horrors Than Elden Ring

Bloodborne puts FromSoftware's RPG elements in a unique setting and has a similar cosmic turn to Elden Ring

Dark Souls brings up the corrupting power of lordship in a dark fantasy setting like Elden Ring, but Bloodborne similarly deals heavily in higher powers that take corporeal forms as cosmic beings. Elden Ring‘s scariest enemy designs are truly horrifying, but they are put to shame by the monstrosities encountered in Bloodborne. What starts out as a night hunting beasts in the spooky, gothic city of Yharnam turns quite literally into a descent through a nightmare. FromSoftware games are typically slow burns, and Bloodborne‘s numerous lore factions rival those of Elden Ring, with players slowly discovering gruesome plots to evolve humans into gods as more and more eldritch horrors are encountered.

Related: Elden Ring’s Ant Enemies Are Weirdly Accurate

Mechanically speaking, Bloodborne is a good half-step away from Elden Ring‘s wide range of play styles. There is still decent variety in builds due to similarly thorough RPG mechanics, but fewer weapons significantly pare down the possible approaches to combat. Those who have found entertainment in playing lightweight characters in Elden Ring, or making use of its parry mechanics, will like Bloodborne‘s fast-paced, dodge-heavy fights. An Elden Ring item is inspired by Bloodborne combat, where quick retaliation nets recovered hit points, resulting in a game that rewards aggressive action, an interesting contrast to the patience often required to succeed in Elden Ring and Dark Souls.

Sekiro Drops Elden Ring’s RPG Elements To Focus On Combat

Sekiro shows that FromSoftware's game design can work without the deep RPG build mechanics

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is on the periphery of what can be considered a Soulslike, but it’s perhaps the best example of the refinement FromSoftware is capable of. It was the first of the studio’s recent endeavors to feature a dedicated jump button and stealth mechanics, both of which are important to the combat, just like in Elden Ring. It’s this combat that is the central focus of Sekiro; so much so that the game entirely abandons the RPG elements of its predecessors. Players are forced to use a katana and there are no sets of armor to experiment with, meaning it may not be for those who like Elden Ring‘s fashionable gear combinations. There are also no levels to be gained, meaning Sekiro requires its players to master the incredibly satisfying, rhythmic combat. Players trade blows in duels with regular mobs and bosses alike, making posture – an analogue to Elden Ring‘s poise stat – the most important aspect of a combat system that can reach a pace even more frantic than Bloodborne.

Sekiro also has possibly the most personal narrative of all the Soulslike games. Although Elden Ring‘s side quests are still cryptic and obtuse, they are more straightforward than those in Dark SoulsSekiro has a very strong cast of central characters who combine for a story that is not very difficult to follow, an example of how FromSoftware’s storytelling evolved, alongside Sekiro‘s combat, away from Dark Souls‘. The main character – known as Sekiro and, simply, Wolf – is in service to Kuro, the Divine Heir to the Ashina Clan. The Wolf is sent on an arduous and mythical quest to sever the immortality that plagues those with the Dragon’s Heritage, namely Kuro. While Sekiro and Bloodborne are a far cry from the dark fantasy setting of Dark Souls, all three offer something that might interest those who have become dedicated Elden Ring fans.

Next: Elden Ring’s Most Exciting Discoveries Are Friends, Not Bosses

Elden Ring Divine Tower Art

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