Unless Demon’s Souls gets that remaster everyone wants, the upcoming Dark Souls Remastered could be the last thing we ever get from the Souls series proper. It doesn’t mean we’ll never see another dreary action RPG in trademark FromSoftware style — they are working on something new, after all.
But if you’ve accepted the “end” of the series and are looking for something to fill the void, there are a ton of great games out now (and some exciting ones on the horizon) that every Dark Souls fan should check out. Some feature satisfying, precision-based combat systems while others prioritize RPG skilltrees and upgrades — most have some intricate, mystery-laden tale to tell and, sometimes, huge, mysterious worlds ripe for exploration. But each one brings something new to the format too. There’s something here for everyone.
Here are some of the must-play games for Dark Souls fans, and the best upcoming ones to watch.
The upcoming Ashen promises “high risk combat” in a sunless open world, where the bonds you form with others via its passive multiplayer will be key to your survival. With a dangerous, dreary world inspired by The Road and emergent storytelling inspired by DayZ’s unpredictable and hostile multiplayer, Ashen is sure to appeal to players who prefer their adventures sad and unforgiving.
Perhaps one of the most stunning looking 2D games out of the others on this list, Blasphemous paints a terrifying, hellish world of superstition and religious corruption in a twisted, Gothic pixel art style. It promises fast-paced, hack-and-slash action and a deep progression system against a uniquely sinister backdrop, with a story players must piece together themselves.
If you ever wanted to play Dark Souls as an adorable mouse, the not-so-subtle Souls-inspired DarkMaus is for you. Direct nods to Dark Souls include slow, sword-and-board combat and campfire checkpoints instead of bonfires, but DarkMaus does plenty of cool things all its own. Its “death echo” mechanic, which summons an ally ghost to fight alongside you after each death, and interesting use of shadow, perspective, and framing are among its most clever.
If you’re looking for something less dark and medieval, Dead Cells offers a fresh and colorful take on the Souls-inspired metroidvania. A self-described “Souls-lite” action-platformer currently in Early Access, Dead Cells features over 50 weapons and spells and a huge, interconnected world to explore. Even in Early Access, it promises a lengthy 20 hour playthrough.
Another 2D action RPG with precise, sword-and-board combat, what makes the upcoming Death’s Gambit stand out from the rest are its massive bosses and grappling hook, which adds a new, exciting dimension to its platforming. Recent updates are sparse for this one, but a Facebook post from this month indicates the team is hard at work with more to share soon.
Still in development, Eitr is an isometric action RPG set in a world inspired by Norse mythology. It has the look and feel of old-school isometric dungeon crawlers with a more modern edge, with highly detailed pixel art and gorgeous lighting.
A solid mix of fluid melee and long-ranged combat, plus optional, upgradeable skills, makes Hyper Light Drifter’s combat as colorful and varied as its vibrant pixelated style. While seasoned Souls fans might not find its combat as much of a challenge as some of the games on this list, its wordless story and mysterious world offers plenty of secrets to find and unravel.
Lords of the Fallen caught some flak when it first came out for its unabashed likeness to Dark Souls, but given the series has nearly spawned its own distinct subgenre at this point, that’s a little unfair. There’s enough meat in Lords of the Fallen (and all the games on this list, make no mistake) to judge it on its own merits. A deep combat system, dark fantasy setting, and slightly more accessible action make Lords of the Fallen an appealing game for players who prefer a good action RPG, but aren’t as big on 2D pixel art.
The Momodora series has been around since 2010, but started getting more popular once its third installment hit Steam in 2014. They stand out for their effortless blend of cute and tough, making for compelling 2D action platformers with exciting challenges, great stories, and charming art. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (the fourth game) is arguably the strongest in all three departments.
Necropolis offers some fairly standard third-person dungeon-crawling action with roguelike-inspired elements, but it really shines for its four-player co-op. Navigating its deadly procedurally-generated levels with a squad makes its not insubstantial challenges exciting, even when its maze-like dungeons start to feel pretty samey. If you’re looking for one to run through exclusively with friends, Necropolis isn’t a bad choice.
Nioh is a massive and incredibly complex action RPG that’s as likely to appeal to fans of Onimusha and Ninja Gaiden as it is fans of Dark Souls, with its hackier, slashier combat and historical Japanese setting. Staying faithful to its roots, it’s also tough as hell, but more fluidity in its melee combat and the Guardian Spirits system — which adds a fun new layer to the fight — means there are plenty of options to fit your playstyle.
There’s a lot more to Dark Souls than its combat, so naturally that isn’t the only thing Dark Souls fans look for when we want to play a similar game. Exploration, tension, mystery, the feeling of overcoming challenges in a hostile world and the reward of making just inches of progress at a time — all things Dark Souls and Rain World have in common. Rain World is brutal and scary, and it refuses to hold your hand, making every discovery that much more exciting. As you navigate a toxic, post-apocalyptic ecosystem, you’ll encounter new creatures and obstacles (some hostile, some not) and must learn how to contend with them, or die trying. And you will die, a lot. Rain World will definitely test the patience of players who don’t enjoy that kind of experience, but for those that love the feeling of getting lost in a dangerous, but beautiful game world, Rain World is for you.
If you have a Vita and are eager for some Dark Souls-style action on the go, Salt and Sanctuary should hold you over until Dark Souls Remastered launches on the Switch later this year. The 2D action RPG is deep and complex, with a large skill tree and classes to customize your playstyle. While the combat is more likely to satisfy the RPG itch than those looking to master the precise action of Dark Souls, it’s in the Metroidvania-style exploration where Salt and Sanctuary most heavily echoes its influences, with its interconnected, secret-filled world.
The Surge is a lot more than just a sci-fi take on the Souls genre. Modular upgrades, a precise dismemberment mechanic that fuels its loot system, and a multiplier feature carried over from Lords of the Fallen — from the same developer — all bring something interesting to the table.
Titan Souls wears its inspirations on its sleeve, but like everything on this list, still retains its own unique identity. The player character appears small and fragile on-screen, making the vast, ancient world and large-scale bosses that much more spectacular and imposing in comparison.
Have a favorite game you think fellow Souls fans would appreciate? Let us know in the comments!
Chloi Rad is an Associate Editor for IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.