Top souls games from FromSoftware from less cool to more cool

 Elden Ring? Dark Souls 3? Or maybe Bloodborne? Finding out which Fromov game is the best

In May 2022, Elden Ring sold over 13.4 million copies. The figure is gigantic, considering that Hidetaka Miyazaki and his studio were making games that were considered quite a niche 10 years ago. Now FromSoftware has finally broken into the mainstream, for which, of course, it deserves all possible praise. Does this mean that Elden Ring, which brought the most fame to Fromam‎, can be deservedly called the company's best souls game? In fact, not everything is so simple, so let's figure out which "souls" released by the cult Japanese studio are really the most interesting.

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Disclaimer: Before proceeding, it should be clarified that FromSoftware has not made a single outright bad souls-like. Seriously: all "souls" "Fromov" are equal, just some are more equal than others.

7. Dark Souls 2 (2014)

The best PvP component, impressive build variability, well-implemented New Game+ mode

Weak world and level design, sometimes unfair difficulty, ugly visual style

If you're familiar with the series firsthand, you won't be surprised that Dark Souls 2 took last place on this list. Yet, for many years after the release of DS2, many critics and fans of the genre managed to wash all the bones of the second "Dark Souls" a million times and call it the worst in the series. And yes, for good reason: due to problematic development, a sudden change in-game director, and the fact that Miyazaki was not in charge of the DS2 team, the second licensed part of the franchise turned out to be too chaotic game. For example, it frustrates with an illogical world: here you can find a tower standing in the middle of the wasteland, go inside, ride the elevator up and somehow find yourself at the foot of the volcano. Vulcan, which was nowhere to be seen outside the tower. DS2 often gives the feeling that somewhere during the development phase, the authors lost or removed a decent amount of important content.

And Dark Souls 2 also disappoints with boring levels (forget about the ornate labyrinths of DS1), unmemorable bosses (except that in the DLC the enemies turned out to be more or less worthy of attention), uneven difficulty (in some rooms literally crowds of opponents attack the hero, although the game mechanics are clearly calculated to duels rather than fights with groups) and an unremarkable visual style that makes it not much more interesting than any other fantasy.

However, Dark Souls 2 also has undeniable strengths. So, if you love to fight other players, it's easy to spend hundreds of hours in DS2 on the PvP component alone. The game offers the widest selection of different spells, abilities, and weapons, and is well balanced, allowing gamers to experiment with many builds. This adds to the impressive variety of PvP. In addition, Dark Souls 2 is interesting to replay, because the New Game+ mode is quite different from the first run: new enemies appear in the levels and fights with certain bosses become more interesting due to additional surprises during battles and bonus loot that they left after death. Alas, in the rest of the FromSoftware games, "new game +" simply increases the opponents' life and the damage caused by them,

6. Demon's Souls and its remake (2009 and 2020)

Experimental spirit of the game, unique atmosphere, advanced graphics (if we are talking about a remake)

Noticeably outdated mechanics

The very first and in some ways the most unique souls game. DeS was created in very specific conditions: even at an early stage of development, FromSoftware management considered the project to be a failure, and this, surprisingly, freed Miyazaki's hands. Knowing that nothing was expected of him, he took the liberty of injecting many truly experimental ideas into DeS. This is how, for example, a unique multiplayer game appeared, allowing you to invade other people's passages. Moreover, in the subsequent works of the studio you will not find many of the most daring (and controversial) gameplay features of Demon's Souls: for example, nowhere else is there a "tendency of the world" when the game punishes the gamer for frequent deaths, making the levels many times more difficult. Such "rough" systems give DeS the lion's share of its charm. As well as the unique mystical atmosphere: the world of "Demons" forever bites into the memory thanks to the melancholy mood and interspersed with horror. Words are superfluous here, so it’s better to walk along the Latria Tower yourself to understand what is at stake.

The trouble with Demon's Souls is that, in terms of gameplay, it has aged noticeably against the background of its heirs. Even the 2020 remake from Bluepoint Games does not fix this shortcoming. The combat of DeS today seems primitive, as is the design of most bosses. Plus, the game is unnerving with minor flaws: for example, the fact that the character's inventory is not rubber here, as in newer projects.

5. Dark Souls 3 (2016)

Cool bosses from the beginning of the game to the end, interesting levels

Linear design of the world itself, secondary ideas, and concepts

For many Souls fans, boss battles are the most important part of these games. And so in the third "Dark Souls" confrontations with powerful enemies turned out to be more impressive, more memorable, and more exciting than in almost any other FromSoftware game (with the exception of Sekiro). It's not easy to find really bad bosses in Dark Souls 3, here even the initial bosses deserve praise in terms of balance, and the opponents from both DLCs (Fride's sister, Demon Prince, Gael) are almost flawless examples of how to do it. serious, but at the same time honest tests.

It’s also hard to find fault with the level design of individual DS3 locations: almost every level is “wound up” in a ball of corridors and rooms, and the player can find many secret passages that make it easier to navigate through the local labyrinths.

Unfortunately, Dark Souls 3 suffers from two problems that drag it down: the first is more objective, and the second is more subjective. An objective disadvantage is linearity. Replaying the third "Dark Souls" is not so interesting, since each next passage practically repeats the previous ones due to the way the world works. The map of Dark Souls 3 actually consists of a chain of levels following one after another, and not from the web, as it was in the first "Dark".

Well, the more subjective problem of DS3 is the fan service that permeates everything here. There are so many references to the first Dark Souls in Dark Souls (locations, NPCs, armor, weapons, and even enemies) that it seems that the final of the trilogy does not have its own identity, which, by the way, had the same DS2.

4. Dark Souls (2011)

Stunning world design and individual levels

The weaker second half of the game

The first DS did a lot of things right, so much so that even its direct sequels failed to replicate the original's most brilliant moments. Take, for example, the notorious world design that has been praised by critics and gamers for over a decade. The levels of the first "Darks" are really masterfully connected to each other, which is why the journey through Lordran periodically makes the gamer open his mouth in amazement: the next secret passage often turns out to be an additional path to a new or old location, where you last visited a few hours ago. At such moments, it is difficult to resist admiration for how competently the developers "soldered" the game. And thanks to all these interweavings, the first Dark Souls can be played with enthusiasm at least dozens of times, choosing completely different paths to your goals.

True, not everything is so rosy. Due to how ingeniously the world of Dark Souls and its levels are thought out as a whole, any oversights in level design are more striking, which in the second half of the game you begin to notice a little more than we would like. The authors clearly overestimated their strength during development and failed to cope with their own ambitions, and therefore, closer to the finale, unfinished locations like Forgotten Izalith appear, which do not meet the gold standard of the first half of the game.

3 Elden Ring (2022)

One of the best open worlds in video game history

Balance issues, overly complicated quests

To some extent, ER can be called the peak of the development of the classic Souls formula. Miyazaki and FromSoftware essentially made Dark Souls 4, just called the game differently, changed the setting, and added a fair, honest open world. The last moment is a real achievement: before the release of Elden Ring, many fans doubted that the concepts and mechanics of the souls-like genre could coexist normally with the open world, but Fromes managed to marry seemingly incompatible things.

The open world of Elden Ring is one of the best games out there, huge and packed full of interesting content. Here you don’t want to miss a single castle, not a single dungeon, not a single cave, since a new boss is probably waiting for the player inside (there are more than 100 of them in the game) and, more importantly, a valuable reward: for example, a useful spell that can’t be found anywhere else find, or a unique weapon.

Oddly enough, content richness is, of course, Elden Ring's greatest strength, but also partly one of its key weaknesses. There is such a wide variety of equipment in the game that some types of weapons sometimes break the game. As a result, especially difficult bosses give certain builds much less trouble than others. Let's hope that FromSoftware will fix the balance issues in future patches or additions to more or less equalize all players. But what she is unlikely to correct is overly veiled quests: many secondary tasks are almost impossible to complete, since often NPCs do not even give hints to which location they will be transferred to at the next stage of the quest. This problem was in all the games of this studio, but in ER it is more annoying,

2 Bloodborne (2015)

Setting, lore, atmosphere, and dynamic battles

Some controversial game design decisions, technical component

BB fans have earned themselves a bit of a bad name among Souls fans for the amount of praise they give to their favorite title. But you can understand them: it’s really easy to call Bloodborne one of the top Fromes games, and Hidetaka Miyazaki himself recognized it as his masterpiece. FromSoftware turned out to be an extremely coherent work, all the components of which perfectly complement each other: for example, the atmosphere of gothic horror is in perfect harmony with the Victorian setting, as is the lore, which borrows ideas from the dark stories of Lovecraft. But what is most impressive is that the authors have achieved the thematic unity of the Bloodborne plot with the gameplay: BB is a game about bloodlust and madness, which the combat system does not forget for a second, encouraging the most aggressive approach to fights. Here you can even heal by striking.

Bloodborne is extremely close to the ideal, but still not quite up to it. Although not much, it is annoying with some ill-conceived moments (for example, the need to farm or buy flasks that restore lives) and the technical component. Such a fast-paced action game is in dire need of a PS5 patch that increases the frame rate to at least 60.

1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)

The best combat system among FromSoftware games, the best bosses, a high level of game quality in general

Lack of DLC

In the first half of Sekiro, there is a moment when the antagonist suggests that the main character betray his master, to which our character replies with a laconic refusal, uttering just one-word "heresy". And now, for some hardcore connoisseurs of Dark Souls, the very reckoning of Sekiro to souls games is heresy: you can immediately hear counterarguments from them that, they say, since Shadows Die Twice does not have online invasions or a wide selection of weapons, it means that to Souls has nothing to do with it. All this, of course, is nonsense: Sekiro may not be an RPG like its predecessors, but certainly souls-like. The DNA of the "souls" is felt in almost everything here, from the resurrection mechanics to the level design. Moreover, Shadows Die Twice not only deserves to stand on par with its relatives but also has every right to be called magnum opus FromSoftware.

Sekiro is the most focused game, where there is nothing superfluous at all. Yes, here you can’t change the main weapon, you can’t use magic and you can’t experiment with builds. However, these mechanics were sacrificed for a reason, to make the most adrenaline-pumping, deepest, and most engaging combat system of any souls-like. Sword duels in Sekiro require the maximum return from the gamer: the enemies behave more aggressively than in any other Fromov game, but the fights never seem unfair, because the developers have provided everything necessary to be able to fight with opponents on equal terms. The most brilliant decision of Miyazaki and his team was to make defense less of a passive process, to turn it into a form of attack. In Sekiro, when a gamer catches the rhythm and starts parrying enemy attacks in a timely manner, he thus advances his victory by crushing the concentration of the enemy. As soon as the corresponding bar is filled to the maximum, it will immediately be possible to deliver a finishing blow, even if the enemy’s health bar has not had time to dry up.

Since the developers needed to balance the game for only one style of gameplay, they were able to make the bosses almost perfect in terms of difficulty. Yes, they are not easy opponents, punishing for the slightest mistakes, but as soon as the player masters all the nuances of the local combat system, he will be able to overcome any test without any handouts (in the same Elden Ring, sometimes you can’t do without farming XP or summoning assistants). Sekiro bosses are so exciting to fight that after dozens of hours spent in the game, you only want to complain that there are not so many leaders here. Unfortunately, Shadows Die Twice has not received a single major DLC that expands the list of eminent opponents. Gamers had to settle for a free update that came out in 2020 and added only new challenge modes and just three new bosses,

In fact, the top three games on this list are so close in quality to each other that depending on the mood, they can be periodically swapped. But something will remain unchanged: the fact that the best souls games are, oddly enough, those Fromov projects that do not have the word Souls in the title. The history of Dark Souls may have come to an end, but the legacy of the series continues to live on in Miyazaki's new projects, which are in no way inferior to their ideological predecessors, and in many ways surpass them.

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