A little over a decade has passed since the first Dark Souls Hit consoles in 2011, and since then a whole genre has been born. While it wasn’t FromSoftware’s first game, there’s no denying that it was spot on when the industry began to evolve in response Dark Souls versus traditional gaming experiences.
However, it’s worth looking at how Dark Souls revolutionize the scene and what their legacy will look like the longer games follow. As of this writing, an exceptionally difficult title may be earning the nickname of a “souls-like” game as a badge of honour, which guarantees a certain degree of success simply by association. But it remains to be seen whether it will stay like this forever.
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The Appeal of the Dark Souls
The genre probably first started entirely with demons soulsa forerunner of Dark Souls which served as the spiritual successor to FromSoftware Koenigsfeld. What differentiates the two souls Playing was a matter of timing and platform with Dark Souls no longer exclusive to PlayStation and launched at a time when the industry was under fire for producing games that “held players’ hands” by making things too simple and obvious.
Unlike contemporary games of the time that focused on formulas like tutorials with in-game prompts, Dark Souls was created to allow polished combat mechanics and balanced game design to complement each other, with fatalities not just a possibility, but an inevitability. When players failed, it was never attributed to poor game design, but to a lack of player skill. In addition, the ability to progress and a limited availability of checkpoints – bonfires – were tied into this system. Fatalities meant losing significant advances, something few other titles allowed, and Dark Souls made no apologies for how challenging or difficult the game could become.
Definition of the soul-like genre
Following Dark Souls‘ monumental rise in prominence, a new generation of games emerged that sought to emulate this style. This was particularly pronounced in the indie scene as AAA developers slowly emerged. They like Hollow Knight and salt and sanctuary followed the path that Dark Souls that combines unforgiving combat and nuanced gameplay with dark fantasy narratives. Even the club welcomed these titles Dark Soulsas if the comparison were evidence of their careful design.
That souls-like genre didn’t have a solid, concrete definition or determining criteria, but it escalated to a point where any game with a high difficulty level would draw the ire of players when compared to itself Dark Souls. As more time passed and Dark Souls‘ Impact solidified, core components of the genre it inspired would emerge: high difficulty, recurring fatalities, resource management, and a focus on subversive worldbuilding with environmental storytelling and cryptic interactions. While this often leads souls-like games that include dark fantasy settings, newer games are beginning to question this and open up more potential for souls-like interpretations.
The future of soul-like games
A reissue of demons souls found its way to PS5 in 2020 led by another studio as FromSoftware moved on to other projects such as Elden ring. As the open-world nature of Elden Ring seems to be changing the industry once again, one could argue the traditional FromSoft souls-like genre ended with demons souls, just as it began. That being said, other games developed by studios outside of FromSoftware have gained cult followings, with sequels like Hollow Knight: Silk Song and salt and sacrifice waiting for their own releases.
Over 10 years later, it’s hard to imagine how one game could reinvigorate the industry and spawn an entire genre. Dark Souls‘ Legacy is sure to draw players’ attention as future titles are released, with the prospect of what might be in store for people like Elden ring Successors or games such as Star Wars Jedi: Survivor hopefully paint a bright future.
Dark Souls is now available for PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
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