The souls-like genre

In recent years we have seen releases of RPG titles combined with action touches marked by their difficulty and fantastic atmosphere. Lots of people have classified this combination as souls-like due to its similarity with titles such as Dark Souls or Bloodborne.

Background of souls-like genre

In mid-1994, months after the launch of the first Playstation, From Software launched King’s Field. This title was an innovation in role-playing games given the first-person perspective and three-dimensional graphics. 

The medieval setting of King’s Field was followed by two sequels for Playstation (in 1995 and 1996 respectively) and a third for Playstation 2 in 2001 and its adaptations for PSP later. With diverse reviews, mostly positive from fans, it managed to make a place for itself among the classic PSX and PS2 RPGs thanks to its neat game atmosphere.

Demon’s Souls is released in 2009 as a spiritual successor to the saga. This time in third person with a much darker world and a story capable of catching a large number of players. With spells and magic, this game goes beyond King’s Field, by having to get the souls of different enemies through patience, cautiousness and observation.

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The difficulty

This challenging gameplay is the key cornerstone of the game, as death means the beginning of the level from the beginning and the complete loss of the collected souls. The leap from King’s Field to Demon’s Souls is clear, even the evolution to a sandbox-like mechanics because of the size of the five worlds interconnected by portals.

But not only in the size but in the dynamics of moves, powers, abilities, weapons, enemies and secondary characters, which determine the captivating atmosphere of the title.

The online mode

In addition to this, in Demon’s Souls we can experience an online gameplay very different from what was established at that time

Connected to the Internet it is possible to access another player’s world to help him with an enemy or to give him advice through runes.

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Later in 2011, Playstation 3 sees the release of the game that would culminate the genre being born and later give its name to the souls-like subgenre, Dark Souls. This title manages to build on the foundations created by its spiritual predecessor: the exhausting difficulty of its gameplay that leads to a ruthless challenge for the player.

Given the success of Dark Souls in 2011 Dark Souls II was later released for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2014 with the same gameplay dynamics and located, this time in the kingdom of Drangleic, in the same universe as its predecessor, but without a direct connection between them. The latest iteration of the souls saga, Dark Souls III for PS4 and Xbox One, was released in 2016 with a higher difficulty and faster gameplay associated with Bloodborne gameplay. The first Dark Souls is currently expected to be remastered for Nintendo Switch.

The legacy

The Souls series is considered one of the most important video game sagas of all time and influenced the world of video games in a way that managed to create a sub-genre that refers to titles with specific characteristics such as:

  • Third-person action within a role-playing genre.
  • A high level of difficulty based on cautiousness, observation and increasing the abilities of the character through the collection of items (souls).
  • A fantastic universe, that in many occasions is influenced by medieval touches.

In this way we have titles that could be catalogued as souls-like like The Surge, Code Vein or Inmortal Unchained that will see the light in physical format this September.

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