Elden Ring's impact cannot be overstated and, for the most part, represents what players adore about FromSoftware, as well as unassociated titles that are often dubbed as "Souls-like." FromSoftware's formulaic niche has been so well-developed that players can attune to Dark Souls as a genre, with similar games often adopting multiple feature and mechanic influences. Hence, the term Soulslike is inspired by Demon's Souls, and the more broadly ubiquitous Dark Souls.
Elden Ring is only the latest of FromSoftware's massively popular titles, but it also delves into uncharted territory for the developer, and further opens the door to what FromSoftware is capable of. Elden Ring's popularity may very well be the gateway for many players to now branch out and seek interest in another FromSoftware game or a Souls-like from another developer entirely. If fans have fully completed Elden Ring and are looking for another Soulslike title, there are a few that could pique players' interest.
Bluepoint Games' Demon's Souls Remake
Demon's Souls' remake is arguably one of the most visually enhanced and easier Soulslike titles. Demon's Souls' remake was developed by Bluepoint Games and not FromSoftware, which explains the animation fluidity and graphical fidelity it has that is uncharacteristic of FromSoftware's own titles. The Demon's Souls remake's easily digestible length makes it fantastic for new players, especially contrasted against Elden Ring's massive scope and scale, and sorceries are significant and prominent between both games as well.
If Elden Ring was compared with any Dark Souls entry, its similarities would perhaps be most comparable to Dark Souls 2. However, these similarities would not be preferable, and unfortunately contribute to many of the reasons why many FromSoftware fans dislike Dark Souls' sequel the most out of each franchise installment. Elden Ring and Dark Souls 2 share similar enemy mob ambushes, boss battles with two or more opponents or re-skinned enemies, and surprise traps that can be a nuisance.
Dark Souls' first installment may be too much of a step back in terms of visuals and quality of life features, even if Dark Souls Remastered was chosen. Of course, there are salient reasons to want to play any of the Dark Souls entries immediately after shelving Elden Ring. However, this would not be advised if players experienced difficulty with Elden Ring. Plus, Demon's Souls is technically where the franchise's Soulslike formula started anyhow, so it would not necessarily be disruptive or interpolative to start with its remake.
Team Cherry's Hollow Knight
Soulslike does not have to mean that a game rigidly follows the exact same structure and formula that a FromSoftware game has. Instead, it implies that certain elements or characteristics are transferrable and similarly noticeable between them, particularly if they contribute to a wider portion of UX or gameplay. One of these similarities are embellished and eccentric boss battles as a chief element. Hollow Knight's 2D art direction does not allow for players to somersault around enemies, but it adapts to this through creative dashes and jumps to make use of a specific arena during fights.
Indeed, Hollow Knight would be a fantastic next choice after Elden Ring, especially if players are also skilled at platforming. Hollow Knight is as much of an action-platformer as it is a Soulslike, with a grueling Path of Pain challenge that is optional. Hollow Knight still maintains the genetic blueprint of Soulslike titles.
Checkpoints behave comparably to Soulslike games, where intermittent benches become the player's respective Dark Souls bonfires, or Bloodborne lamps. The player's amassed currency is stripped from them upon death, but can be retrieved if players are able and willing to return to where they had perished. Hollow Knight's cartoonish atmosphere in a fantastical, subterranean world of creatures and insects is wholly charming, and any Soulslike player would be remiss not to play it.
The Game Kitchen's Blasphemous
Similar to Hollow Knight, the hack-and-slash action-platformer Blasphemous is largely billed as a metroidvania. This is true and lends itself to fun mechanics and item fetch-quests, but Blasphemous' Soulslike qualities are unmistakable. Bile flasks are Blasphemous' respective Estus flasks, for example, which are replenished at Prie Dieu altars at the cost of enemies' resurrections.
If Soulslike players are devoted fans of FromSoftware's sparse storytelling, Blasphemous will be the perfect next title for them. Blasphemous is steeped in rich, fantastical Catholicism that is etched into the land of Cvstodia's obscure lore. This is not unlike Elden Ring's own fanatical lore underpinnings of the Golden Order and Finger worship. Many NPC characters exist in Blasphemous that suggest questlines and other absurdities to players, which typically involve taking a quest item to another NPC.
It is through interacting with these NPCs that players receive any understanding of Blasphemous' lore and world building, but that is precisely what makes Soulslike games' narratives engaging. Blasphemous 2 has also finally been announced, should players want to experience the first installment before the second eventually releases. Ultimately, players may choose whichever Soulslike game appeals to them in terms of aesthetic art style, gameplay, or narrative lore, but these choices should not be missed, as they represent some of the Soulslike genre's best qualities and features.
Elden Ring is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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