Dark Souls, the game that most people ‘fear’. It’s become a huge success over the past few years, and the experience of playing it can mean a bunch of different things to different players. Some love to explore the desolate atmosphere of its setting, plundering the unknown world to explore what secrets lay down the beaten path. Others prefer the challenge of fighting hulking monstrosities, overcoming the insurmountable odds in an effort to prove that there is no obstacle too large or deadly that cannot be bested.
Whatever your passion, a love of the series can only be sated for so long; the game will eventually come to an end and you may be left wanting more. But worry not adventurer, for all hope is not lost. I have traversed the murky woods, plundered the haunted castles, and emerged with a bountiful haul of indie games that resemble some of the best aspects of the Dark Souls series. If you still need your masochistic fix, here’s a handy list of games that might scratch your Dark Souls itch, along with a bunch of titles currently in development to watch out for.
Games You Can Play Now
Volgarr The Viking – PC
What is it – Volgarr the Viking has you don the glorious mane of a Nordic warrior as he rampages through a mystical land of deadly enemies, traps, and satisfyingly sizable boss monsters. This 2D side-scroller will have you spilling blood over 30+ levels, with a keen focus on simple controls that are quick to learn but difficult to master.
Why you would like it – Aside from the repeated dying that you’ll no doubt endure from Volgarr’s high difficulty threshold, both games share a solid control scheme. Dodge rolls, careful timing, and knowledge of your enemy go a long way to surviving the trials ahead, and once you get into the groove of foe-slaying a sense of familiar satisfaction will remind you of the litres of tears you’ve cried traversing the kingdom of Drangleic.
Titan Souls – PC
What is it – Titan Souls is the final product of a three man Ludum Dare endeavour. In keeping with the theme – You only get one – the game tasks you with slaying four epic boss monsters with only one arrow. Once you fire off your arrow you are forced to remain motionless and vulnerable as you recall it back from its flight, and if you take any form of damage from the big bad boss folk then its game over.
Why you would like it – It’s freaking called “Titan Souls”. The game is heavily inspired by the series, and by opting for a more minimalist approach to the combat, those of you in need of a quick fix are sure to find worth in playing it. If that’s not enough to entice you, each boss can only be slain by finding and exploiting its one weak spot. Trial and error will have you returning multiple times as you try to discover just how each boss is slain.
The Ludum Dare game is free to play here.
La Mulana – PC/Wii
What is it – In short, the side scrolling open world Indiana Jones game you never knew you wanted. La Mulana gives you a whip and sends you on your merry way into the dangerous tombs below as you search for untold treasure. Easily described as a Metroidvania, the game boasts a massively open map, complete with angry boss monsters and powerful relics to pilfer.
Why you might like it – La Mulana encompasses one of the more unique qualities of the Souls series. It drops you into the world with a quick pep talk, then slams the door shut and lets you figure everything else out by yourself. It’s a journey of discovery at your own pace, with every path open to you from the start, enabling that sense of exploration we’ve come to find endearing of Dark Souls games.
La Mulana can be downloaded from Steam for $14.99/£11.99
Games To Watch Out For
What is it – Malebolgia is a trip through the dark corridors of the Devil’s fortress. You will take the reins of a fallen general as he searches the darkness for the beast himself, though how and why you came to be in this situation is largely unknown.
Why you might like it – The game screams doom from the very start. Everything is lathered in a healthy dose of darkness, and when you throw in the narrative of traversing the afterlife into the mix, it’s easy to draw comparisons to the Dark Souls series. To add to the proceedings, the beast isn’t going to be found at the top of the fortress. Instead he will actively hunt you down as you explore the world, and it’s up to you to make sure you remain undetected until you’re ready to take him down.
What is it – Caravan is a game about being stranded in the desert. Water has become invaluable, and you’ll have to brave the dangers of the harsh land if you want to continue living. As far as deserts go this one is pretty desolate, aside from the hulking monsters that also inhabit it, of course.
Why you might like it – Caravan is boasting a similar connective concept to that of Dark Souls. The idea is that dying in the world can actually have an impact on another player’s experience. When you die, your location is sent to a synchronised server, and a gravestone is left behind containing your last precious drops of water. If another player happens upon your fateful grave, there’s a good chance your ill fate might just save their life.
You can keep tabs on the development here.
What is it – Oblitus has you take control of a peculiar creature named Parvus. Wielding only a spear and the ability to perform well timed dodge rolls, your task is to discover what you are as you travel across a land full of giant angry boss type folks.
Why you might like it – A key development point for Oblitus has been about rewarding patience and strategy over aggressive spamming of the attack button. Those who enjoy the tense timing and combat aspects of the Dark Souls series will find something to enjoy here. The big boss monsters and creepy aesthetic will probably help capturing that sense of desolation we seem to yearn for too.
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