George loves playing video games—especially games like "Dark Souls 3."
1. Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary asks the question, "What if Darks Souls were 2D?" This interesting little game, released in early 2016 by Ska Studios, distinguishes itself aesthetically from the original Souls games but imitates the same systems almost identically. Salt is souls, sanctuaries are bonfires, and magic is overpowered.
However, the change in perspective creates a whole new experience as the player is made to feel cautious as the right and left sides of the screen are entirely mysterious and are only revealed as you nervously creep forward. This is where Salt and Sanctuary shines; the exploration of new areas is nerve-racking and deliberately designed to force a slow and deliberate play style, just like Dark Souls.
Unfortunately, the 2D perspective does mean combat is somewhat simple, and the level design is not as complex with fewer avenues for secret areas and branching paths, but it's still definitely worth a play.
DarkMaus asks the question, "What if Souls games were 2D—and you were a mouse?"
I would imagine many people may be turned off by this one due to the very simplistic art style, based mostly around three colours—black, tan and white. However, DarkMaus uses this to its advantage by using light as an important gameplay mechanic that creates a Dark-Souls-like experience. Similar to my experience with Salt and Sanctuary, DarkMaus had me creeping around each corner, using slivers of light to scope potential threats and just generally playing with the same caution as Dark Souls game.
I preferred DarkMaus to Salt and Sanctuary in the battle of 2D Soul-likes as it seemed much more deliberate in its design, and I got that nervous adrenaline more frequently while playing.
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Branded more as a Souls-lite game, Necropolis mixes roguelike gameplay with its procedurally generated dungeons and slow combat that focuses on singular enemies, similar to Dark Souls. Initially, I found the title to be very interesting as the combat was engaging, and there was a sense of mystery as I explored the dungeon.
However, this feeling of discovery is cheapened due to the dungeons being procedurally generated. There wasn't enough motivation in each run to keep me playing for too long as, and this is a gripe I have with many roguelike games, the dungeons simply became boring. Although they are randomised each time, they are not a whole new experience. Long corridors will always be long corridors, and it felt like I was playing lots of empty, disconnected parts as opposed to a fully realised game.
The combat is the saving grace for this one. Unlike the two games mentioned before, Necropolis takes advantage of being in 3D and delivers combat that feels weighty, and combat situations can be handled in a variety of different ways. If you love Dark Souls' combat, this could be your fix.
4. Titan Souls
At its core, Titan Souls feels like more of a homage to Shadow of the Colossus as the entire game is essentially one large boss rush set to some great music.
However, the Souls influence is still present and definitely goes beyond just the name. The only weapon available to your character is a large arrow that returns back to you after being fired. Many of the bosses in Titan Souls only need one shot from this arrow to be killed; thus, each boss feels more like a puzzle testing both your problem-solving skills and reaction times. Titan Souls is quite unique in that it captures the slow and thoughtful nature of Dark Souls' combat but without having an army of enemies to fight, unlike the previous entries on this list. It's certainly a game that focuses on quality, not quantity, and I found it enjoyable for that.
However, with no enemies comes no feeling of progression between bosses making each trek to the boss feel especially boring and lonely despite the charming music. Definitely one of the more artsy inclusions to this list, but it was still able to capture that adrenalin and feeling of relief inherent to any good Dark Souls boss.
Now I know what you're thinking—"George, you're very handsome, and thank you; I agree." But you may also be wondering why I've picked a first-person shooter with no stamina mechanics, limited melee combat and armoured divers with drill arms.
I've chosen Bioshock because it shares a very important element with Dark Souls—environmental storytelling. Everywhere you go in Bioshock, the story is being told to you. Whether it be the shrieks of a Splicer for their Adam explaining Rapture's ruin, the corpses holding hands in bathtubs, or Sander Cohen's works of "art," they all tell a story. Dark Souls and Bioshock both create believable worlds through their incredibly deliberate detail.
Therefore while their gameplay may differ drastically, Bioshock really gives me that Dark Souls "feel."