In this article, we’ll take a look at the Top 10 Soulslikes to Play While You Wait for Elden Ring. This list includes old and new titles that have been greatly inspired by the Dark Souls series in terms of combat, depth and difficulty. These are widely available on most modern system and console.
Top 10 Soulslikes to Play While You Wait for Elden Ring
Soulslike is a subgenre of action RPGs that are heavily inspired by the mechanics of Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls Series. Both games focus on Stamina-based Combat that rely on skill-based tactics rather than stats to defeat challenging enemies and bosses. Every swing of a Weapon as well as every dodge or sprint reduces stamina, making timing essential. Death isn’t the end.
It’s a common shared experience for Soulslike games because it provides an avenue to learn from mistakes and to improve your skills in succeeding encounters.
Soulslike games also let you acquire ‘Souls’ or something similar when you slay enemies. This is used for character progression as well as currency to upgrade and repair weapons and armor. Since you’ll often die, you end up dropping these Souls, which aren’t completely lost. In order to get them back, you’ll have to complete challenges such as killing the enemies who picked them up or reacquiring them in a limited amount of time.
Moreover, the Soulslike subgenre isn’t defined purely by it’s combat. The story is unlike any other because you actively discover bits and pieces of it as you further explore the world. The more you pay attention, the more you know. They aren’t presented to you in a linear manner.
The Soulslike games on our list, no matter when they’ve been released, are the best, if not the most challenging and memorable games of this subgenre. Without further ado, let’s discuss the top 10 Soulslike games You Should Play While Waiting for Elden Ring.
Bloodborne (March 2015)
Developed by FromSoftware who created Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls Series, is the highly anticipated Victorian Era action RPG known as Bloodborne. Bloodborne is inspired by Lovecraft’s otherworldly horror and gothic themes. The creatures you’ll encounter as well as the Locations you’ll come across are both foreign and grotesque. The game also has one of the most beautifully haunting environments that is meticulously tied to its dark and deep Lore.
Bloodborne is identified by some as the best Soulslike game, even going so far as claiming it to be better than Dark Souls. Several of its design elements have been improved including the Combat, boss encounters, Weapons.
With respect to combat, Bloodborne leans towards a much more action-oriented and fast-paced playstyle. You’re unable to block hits since there are essentially no shields, and instead, you must constantly move and dodge to avoid enemy attacks. You’re able to perform backstabs as well as parry hits with your guns. Basically, you’re rewarded for being aggressive.
Bloodborne’s Boss Fights are far more dynamic. These encounters are often frantic due to their random and varied movements in addition to having higher HPs than the Bosses in Dark Souls. Equipping the right weapons and having the necessary Skills and knowledge are crucial in effectively beating them.
However, Bloodborne doesn’t have diverse Builds like in Dark Souls. You’re always going to be a hunter, but you do have Trick Weapons that allow you to switch to another weapon form even when you’re in the middle of combat. As such, your attacks and playstyle become very different. Here’s hoping that a Bloodborne sequel and PC port are already in the works.
Bloodborne is available on the PlayStation 4.
Nioh Series (February 2017 and March 2020)
The Nioh Series is inspired by multiple games including Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Devil May Cry, and of course Ninja Gaiden, although it has managed to create a unique name for itself. Developed by Team Ninja, the Nioh Series takes place during a time of unrest, loosely based on actual historic events, during the Age of the Samurai in 1600s Japan.
As the traveler William, you aim to seek revenge while fighting hordes of warriors and Yokais or demonic spirits. Nioh comprises dark fantasy mixed with fictionalized Japanese history, creating a good blend of interesting characters, enemies, and overall storytelling.
Nioh’s Combat highlights the importance of managing your Ki Energy or stamina bar. This drains easily when you attack, block or even take damage. Ki Pulse, on the other hand, lets you restore a portion of your stamina as long as you perform well-timed and fast-paced combos in combat. What makes fights more challenging is that some demons have the ability to slow down the time by which your Ki regenerates.
You also have Combat Stances to change the amount of damage you deal. Each stance provides you with advantages and tradeoffs. For instance, if you choose the High Stance, you’ll be able to deal massive damage at the cost of expending more Ki. In Nioh 2, you have the capability of using Yokai Skills by equipping the Soul Cores these demons drop upon dying.
It provides a ton of depth in terms of the different playstyles you can switch to.
Nioh is also rich in the numerous types of difficult enemies, whether they’re giant spiders or Yokais who’re able to destroy you in a split second if you’re not too careful. Bosses are unforgettable since they’re familiar and ingrained in Japanese folklore.
The Nioh Series is playable on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
Lords of the Fallen (October 2014)
Lords of the Fallen is the first Soulslike game developed by Deck13 in collaboration with CI Games. It follows a rather typical storyline where Harkyn, a convicted criminal, is released to destroy the demonic Rhogar Army that has infiltrated the world. Although the game is set in a frozen wasteland with decrepit castles and gloomy citadels, the environments are not quite as interesting as other Soulslikes. It occasionally feels oppressive but it’s not as mysterious nor intriguing as Dark Souls.
However, when it comes to Combat and the loot system, Lords of the Fallen delivers. Similar to Diablo’s rewarding encounters, you’ll also come across loot that’s stashed away in hidden chests or from defeating hordes of enemies after boss fights. You have the option to equip gear sets or to wield different Weapons that offer much more power. You can even customize these weapons yourself.
In order to manage your energy in fights, performing timed combos are crucial. Furthermore, you have spell trees to upgrade your character’s capabilities as a Cleric, Rogue or Warrior.
Lords of the Fallen’s risk and reward system is what makes the game challenging. If you don’t bank XP, meaning, you don’t spend it to level up Harkyn or upgrade his stats before reaching a Checkpoint Crystal, the corresponding XP multiplier increases by killing more enemies. However, if you die, you only have a specific timeframe to go back to your place of death before the XP completely disappears.
Lords of the Fallen can be played on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android.
The Surge Series (May 2017 and September 2019)
Another Soulslike game from Deck13 is The Surge Series. It’s a sci-fi action RPG and survival adventure that takes place in a dystopian future here on Earth. Ecological issues have irreversibly progressed while governments have met their downfall. Meanwhile, the tech company, CREO, continues to work on several projects to help preserve the lives of the few. One of it’s innovations is to merge humans with machines or exoskeletons for maximum efficiency.
Your character, who goes by the name of Warren, has lost the ability to walk and is eager to participate in CREO’s programs. Following your successful operation, you wake up to a bleak facility where its employees have resorted to committing murders. The atmosphere is an effective representation of the horrors that await. It’s both grim and claustrophobic as you navigate maze-like hallways. The more you explore, the more you find out about the incidents that recently transpired.
The Surge is known for its hack-n-slash, melee Combat Mechanics. With your heavy Rig, you move at a slower pace but this doesn’t hinder each encounter’s tempo. Although the combat isn’t as difficult as the other Soulslike games, it’s exhilarating. You have to learn to manage your stamina and energy bars well to be able to pull off special attacks such as deploying a drone, gaining buffs, or executing finishing moves.
On top of these, The Surge’s dismemberment system is what sets it apart. The game goes into slow motion while you’re cutting off the enemy’s limb and watching spurts of blood come out from the dismembered area. You then get Components from these body parts. These are used for Crafting, along with Tech Scraps or the game’s currency, to upgrade your rig.
Additionally, you slot Implants that provide extra abilities. Because of this, you have the option to customize your current rig or to switch to a different Armor Set altogether. But you’ll have to balance between which you’ll prioritize since they both require spending Core Powers.
The Surge Series is available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Salt and Sanctuary (March 2016)
Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D action RPG developed by Ska Studios. After surviving a shipwreck, you find yourself stranded on a seemingly abandoned island. You then begin exploring disintegrating structures, mysterious valleys, and intimidating castles.
The Story starts off vague. Because of this, it’ll be up to you to tie the pieces together by learning about the island’s history and reading item descriptions. The atmosphere continues to be as desolate and inexplicable all throughout.
Salt and Sanctuary’s Combat is very reminiscent of Dark Souls as it utilizes similar basic Attacks, charge attacks, dodge and blocking patterns that require skill. Even if the encounters aren’t as severely punishing, they continue to present unforgettable challenges. When you die, you drop Salt, which you can reclaim upon slaying the enemy who killed you.
What makes this game rise above the rest is the amount of customization you’re able to do. You start off with some traits but that’s it. You’ll be responsible to craft and to upgrade hundreds of Weapons and Armor. To further enhance your character, you’ll be using Salt to unlock nodes that correspond to your Magic and armor proficiencies, to name a few.
Salt and Sanctuary is playable on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, macOS, and Linux.
Hollow Knight (February 2017)
Hollow Knight is a 2D Metroidvania that’s known for it’s dark world and hand-drawn characters, intricate lore, and difficult combat. These are also the reasons why it’s considered by many as a Souslike game. Hollow Knight, which was developed by Team Cherry, is set in the kingdom of bugs called Hallownest. You play as this adorable little creature or beetle with unclear motivations at the beginning.
As you explore multiple biomes, you slowly grasp the tragedy and despair behind the events that happened. The Lore is told in subtle moments similar to Dark Souls. You’re not spoon-fed, and instead, you discover it all for yourself. The story unfolds in beautiful and meaningful ways that’s cohesive and integrated in the world you’re exploring.
Even at the start, you immediately experience the challenges of Combat such that it’s common to die in the first few hours of the game. However, the more you learn about the mechanics while practicing and developing your dexterity, the more manageable encounters become. You’ll then notice how much progress you’ve made from mastering the art of sword-wielding to dodging attacks with ease.
Fighting enemies lets you collect Souls, which is used to restore HP. You also collect Geo or the game’s currency, which is dropped the moment you die. Unlike Lords of the Fallen, you’re able to go back to your place of death without any time limitations. Instead, you slay the enemy to reacquire lost Geo.
Hollow Knight also uses Charms to change your playstyle like lengthening your attack’s range. Additionally, there are a ton of enemy and Boss Varieties, making each encounter special. Some boss fights require sufficient thought and skill but it never feels unfair. With enough practice, you’ll be able to eliminate them all in no time.
Hollow Knight is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, macOS, and Linux.
Remnant: From the Ashes (August 2019)
In addition to The Surge 2, 2019 brought us a lot of other Soulslike games like Remnant: From the Ashes, which was developed by Gunfire Games. Remnant: From the Ashes is a third-person action RPG looter-shooter where you travel to an apocalyptic world to save what’s left of humanity. Although the story isn’t as intrinsic nor deep as Dark Souls, what’ll keep you invested is the lusciously dark and grotesque environment coupled with horrific monsters.
The game’s worlds are procedurally-generated, which means that every time they’re rerolled, new monsters and Bosses are expected to populate random areas of the map. This adds to the game’s replayability factor. Moreover, you don’t merely focus on killing bosses with Melee or ranged weapons, but you also have to destroy the adds that come with them.
The best loot you can find are those that are dropped by bosses in addition to unique items you pick up in each area. When you teleport back to Ward 13 or the main hub, you’ll be able to craft Weapons and Weapon Mods, which determine how different your playstyle becomes.
Remnant: From the Ashes can be played solo or coop. Playing with friends definitely enriches your experience of the game. Overall, the Combat is fast-paced, chaotic and fun. You can’t block attacks so you’ll have to dodge them instead. Because of this, you need to learn to manage your stamina. Weapons are also impactful and can range from a simple yet powerful Shotgun to a corrosive Butchers Flail.
You can play Remnant: From the Ashes via PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
Code Vein (September 2019)
Next up is the post-apocalyptic anime action RPG, Code Vein, which was developed by BANDAI NAMCO Studios. In Code Vein, you’re one of the many revenants who is infected by parasites. As such, you’re a vampire who needs to feed on blood, otherwise, you’ll turn into a demon or the Lost that you wish to defeat. The game’s atmospheric designs are a mix of bleakness sprinkled with over-the-top hilarity.
When it comes to combat, Code Vein is closer to Bloodborne’s fast momentum because of how precisely quick your movements and dodge abilities are in addition to the lightness of wielding each Weapon. What the game excels at is its class system, namely the Blood Code. Because of this, you’re able to level up multiple classes at the same time.
You can then swap to a Blood Code of your choice depending on the enemies you’ll face. Each class brings unique playstyles, Stats, and magic abilities called Gifts, making encounters more varied and interesting.
Like Remnant: From the Ashes, you can play Code Vein solo or with others. If you choose the solo option, you’re going to be paired with an AI Companion who performs well versus normal enemies but not so much against Bosses. You can also opt to play as a lone wolf but boss encounters will be more difficult.
Code Vein is available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (November 2019)
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order came out as a surprise action adventure game from Respawn Entertainment. The story centers around the Great Jedi Purge, which is ordered by Emperor Palpatine. This event occurs several years after Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. As a result, the main character, who is also an apprentice Jedi that goes by the name of Cal Kestis, is forced to hide from the Empire. At the same time, he also discovers a way to re-establish the Jedi’s significance across the galaxy.
Exploration is definitely one of the best aspects of this game because of how in depth and intricate each planet is. Not only are the Star Wars locations recreated with great attention to detail, but the developers have managed to add new ones that further expand the franchise’s universe. In addition, there are also puzzles to solve in order to escape rooms.
To do so, you’ll need to be incredibly thorough in searching for clues. Similar to the crates you loot, essential objects are not highlighted, which forces you to seek them out while appreciating the environments for what they truly are.
In terms of combat, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order prides itself on executing well-timed combos, dodges and parries to defeat enemies depending on the Lightsaber you’re wielding. Succeeding in fights is largely skill-dependent, minus some upgrades that you unlock in the skill tree. With Force abilities, you’re able to push targets to their deaths. Alternatively, you can pull them closer to you to inflict damage at point-blank range.
This game isn’t as punishing as Dark Souls when it comes to facing enemies to reclaim your lost XP for character progression. Your HP, Force and XP are restored the moment you deal damage to their HP without necessarily killing them.
You can purchase Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Google Stadia.
Mortal Shell (August 2020)
Mortal Shell is an action RPG developed by Cold Symmetry. The game takes place in a dark and horror-stricken underworld where survival is of the essence as you deal with challenging and grotesque creatures. These enemies are as formidable as they are mysterious. They blend very well with the environment’s demoralizing and terrifying tones together with the game’s non-linear storytelling.
Mortal Shell shines most when it comes to its Shell and Hardening Mechanics. Unlike Dark Souls, Mortal Shell doesn’t have predefined classes nor stats. Instead, you occupy and control different shells that act as classes because of the skills you gain from each. As you progress, you gain access to arcane powers, talents and robust Weapons. When you reach 0 HP, you’ll be expelled from the shell you’re inhabiting. You can opt to fight in your naked form or to retrieve the shell.
On the other hand, the hardening mechanic allows you to turn into an impenetrable stone in the middle of Combat. This makes you invulnerable for a certain period. As a result, enemies who hit you are stunned, leaving them at the mercy of your succeeding attacks. What’s good with hardening is it allows for lenient playstyles and mistakes that would otherwise entail death in other Soulslike games.
Mortal Shell is available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
That ends our list of Soulslike games to play while waiting for Elden Ring, with unforgettable titles to try out. What is your most favorite Soulslike game? What are you going to play next? And what did you think of this list? It’s definitely impressive how impactful Dark Souls has become to be able to create its own subgenre!
If you enjoyed this list be sure to check out the Top 10 ARPGs You Should Play In 2021, Top 10 Metroidvanias To Play In 2021, and Top 10 CRPGs You Should Play In 2021. Don’t miss out on our latest reviews and previews, read next Godfall Fire & Darkness Review & Lightbringer Update and Tales of Arise Gameplay Impressions: Hands-On.