FromSoftware games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne don’t just hit you often, they also hit different. It’s hard to pin down a precise mechanic responsible. Like the individual spears of Demon’s Souls’ Phalanx, smaller aspects – the parry, dodge timings, and interconnected worlds – coalesce into behemothic, brilliant, and brutal bosses, with each game a ruler of its realm.
But wherever a sovereign sits atop a throne, pretenders soon arise. Soulslikes have become big business in recent years, but here’s the thing: are any of them actually good? To save you from wasting hours getting to grips with obscure worlds and punishing combat systems only to find the experience falls flat, we’ve done the research. Here are the best soulslike games outside of FromSoftware’s prestigious catalog.
The best soulslike games
To help you find the best soulslike game for you, each entry below details which of FromSoft’s games and series the game is closest to, and whether co-op play is available. So whether you’re salivating over the thought of more Sekiro sword clashes or baying for Bloodborne’s aggressive action, you’ll know where to turn for your next fix.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Closest to: Sekiro, Bloodborne
Multiplayer: 3p co-op
A fast and aggressive soulslike set within a fantasy version of China’s late Han Dynasty. In a continent erupting with war, you play a militia soldier who must learn to master new powers to battle both soldiers and demons. Wo Long’s action is rapid and, much like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, puts a heavy emphasis on parrying enemy attacks before pushing your own offensive.
With the ability to enlist the aid of allied NPCs and other players, however, this is a far more forgiving experience than FromSoft’s strenuous shinobi tale. Provided you can make it past the conspicuously challenging first boss, you’ll be in for a smoother ride here. PC players be warned though: performance has proven rocky for many.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Survivor
Closest to: Sekiro
Respawn Entertainment’s third-person, lightsaber-swinging adventures blend Soulslike combat with metroidvania exploration and progression. It’s an impressively compelling combination, too. Touches of platforming and parkour complement cinematic fights against stormtroopers and many of the Star Wars universe’s larger, more alien beings.
Swift, deflection-based combat makes Sekiro the major well of design inspiration drawn from. But don’t let that put you off; both Star Wars Jedi titles are much more welcoming games to Soulslike newbies. You’re even granted the mercy of difficulty options here! The second game, Survivor, is by all accounts the better and more refined experience. But for Star Wars fans, Fallen Order is still well worth experiencing.
Closest to: A bit of everything
Multiplayer: 3p co-op
The second entry on this list from Wo-Long developer Team Ninja, Nioh 2 is one for the masochists. Monstrous yokai run wild during Japan’s Sengoku period, and as a warrior capable of wielding their fearsome powers, you’re one of the few strong enough to battle them. You and the game’s other players, who you can partner with in co-op or summon as AI spirits to aid you.
Nioh 2 expands upon the first game’s combat options, introducing heaps of nuance through transformations and yokai skills which replicate defeated enemies’ attacks. There’s a dizzying depth to wrestle with here, but that also makes it possible to enter a flow state in fights that’s that’s both immensely satisfying to play and beautiful to watch. If you’re up for the challenge, Nioh 2 is widely considered one of the best soulslikes not born of FromSoftware.
Closest to: Dark Souls, Bloodborne
Multiplayer: 3p co-op
Remnant 2 is a soulslike game that’s also a third-person looter-shooter with plenty of procedural generation. No, don’t run off! It’s a far better concept than it sounds on paper. Proferring both guns and magical skills to play with, Remnant 2 lets you loose in an imaginative mix of worlds – there’s a Bloodborne-esque town, alien forest, and a toxic desert – each of which is horrific and grotesque in its own way.
Procedural generation shakes up which you’ll explore first and what you’ll find within, but crucially it doesn’t come at the cost of interesting environments. Levels are laden with not just enemies, but also traps to outsmart and secrets to discover. True to Soulslike form, there are also a wealth of terrifying bosses to overcome too. One thing to bear in mind is that Remnant 2’s class systems definitely make it a game best enjoyed in co-op with a friend or two.
Closest to: Dark Souls
Keen for a change in perspective? Death’s Door infuses soulslike blood into top-down, Zelda-style adventuring. Finally, a generous dose of comedy completes the concoction. You play a corvid member of the Reaping Commision Headquarters – a bureaucratic organization tasked with collecting the souls of creatures unwilling to pass on to the afterlife. When your target’s soul is stolen from you, you’re sent on a journey across three lands to secure the Giant’s Souls required to unlock the titular Death’s Door.
The often ridiculous world is rife with characterful NPCs to encounter, including some not-so-subtle homages to Souls favorites like the Onion Knight. New weapons and abilities unlock as you progress through the main zones, and you’ll need them to solve puzzles when you’re not dodge rolling through tense combat arenas.
The Surge 2
Closest to: Dark Souls
The Surge 2 brings a tech-focused twist to the usual soulslike fighting. You’ll still be learning attack patterns, managing stamina, and dodging between strikes, but here you’ll be doing it with sci-fi sticks instead of fantasy ones. An excellent addition to the format comes in slow-mo takedowns which see you sever enemy limbs and body parts with dramatic final strikes.
The story of Surge 2 is lackluster, and its world and characters grimly dull. Fortunately, that’s counterbalanced through excellently interconnected levels and impressively strategic combat. Defense requires precision, demanding you direct your blocks in the direction of the incoming attack. Your loadout, too, requires thought. Each Implant you equip saps your limited power, forcing you to make choices as to the strengths and weaknesses of your setup.
Closest to: Bloodborne, Dark Souls
Multiplayer: 2p co-op
If you felt like an anime aesthetic was the main thing lacking from the soulike selection, Code Vein is here to fill that niche. The post-apocalyptic setting sees the player take the role of a vampiric revenant who must fight with other creatures and people over dwindling supplies of life-sustaining blood. It’s a story relayed far more directly than in the Souls games, though sadly the cast are fairly two-dimensional (with women’s designs largely serving as titillation) and the plot mostly uninteresting.
What really makes Code Vein worth a shot beyond its aesthetic is the emphasis on fighting flexibility. Combat is fast and punishing, but tougher bosses can be overcome by switching up your Blood Code (read: class) to better scale with different weapons and equip new skills. By default, you’ll be partnered up with an AI companion from the story, but co-op support is also available if you want to enjoy the game with a friend.
Upcoming: Lies of P
Closest to: Bloodborne
Multiplayer: None (that we know of)
And finally, something soon to come. A demo for Lies of P is all we’ve had to test so far, but it certainly brings plenty of new ideas to the soulslike format. Inspired by Pinnochio and set in the Belle Époque era of European history, you play as a sentient puppet in a city overrun by formerly servile, now murderous creations. Navigate the city of Krat, taking on monstrous puppets bent on killing anyone in their path and more than a few twisted humans along the way.
Lies of P is overtly enamored with Bloodborne, both in its aesthetic and the aggression-led combat. The lore and writing for the world don’t look set to live up to its lavish design, but crucially it does feels excellent to play. We’ve yet to see if it can sustain interest across a full campaign, but the demo is well worth giving a try ahead of the September 19 release date.
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