Over the last 10 or so years, FromSoftware has become one of the most respected developers around today. This began with their cult classic Demon’s Souls back in 2009, giving them visibility like never before. It was this that started a new genre of challenging games that FromSoftware themselves would continue, as well as other developers that would provide their own take on the formula.
In the last 2 years, I have managed to complete all of their modern releases, including the remake of Demon’s Souls by Bluepoint Games. I’ll be including that as I still think it counts. So with that in mind, I thought I’d provide my own ranking of these adventures, from worst to best. Let’s begin!
6.) Dark Souls 2
Oh, Dark Souls 2…what do I remember about you, no seriously, what actually do I remember about this game? Coming off of the seminal first game, this sequel tried so hard to be just like it’s big brother, it failed to leave any lasting impression on me. Mechanically it’s very good, but it doesn’t really have anything else going for it.
I can’t remember at all what happened in the narrative or any of its lore. Aside from a few excellent bosses, most felt underwhelming and cheap imitations of those from Dark Souls. To its credit, I will say it had some rather exceptional and thrilling music, as these games all have. I don’t think it is a bad game at all, it just pales in comparison to the rest.
5.) Demon’s Souls (2020)
The remake of this cult classic was a good game, if you want to read my full review, check it out here. First things first, this remake was stunning from a visual perspective. For one of the first, truly next-gen titles on the PS5, it was a great showcase for the hardware. Everything from enemy and boss designs, to crackling spells and environments, it all comes together to be a really gorgeous game.
Unfortunately for me, the game was too easy, so much so that I breezed through it in about 15 hours, beating most bosses first attempt. I found it no more challenging than the average RPG, taking away the main draw of these titles. However, it’s still a well-crafted experience with engaging combat and the signature dark fantasy aesthetic.
It might annoy quite a few people to find Bloodborne in the bottom half of my list, but while I still found this a great game, I wasn’t a fan of the combat unfortunately. I absolutely loved the H.P. Lovecraft inspirations in the world and lore. The gothic horror style works so well for this type of game and helped it stand out from the Souls series. The bosses were incredible and for me, it was the second most difficult of these entries.
One downside was the combat, which I just didn’t really enjoy as much. There isn’t any option to block, meaning you can only dodge out of the way of attacks. This often led to frustrating moments, which combined with the notorious camera, made the game feel unfair at times. I’d be stuck in the environment or couldn’t see what was going on. Overall, the style just wasn’t for me. The blood vial system of healing was terrible, which felt like its sole purpose was to add artificial length to the game, grinding to stock up on them.
3.) Dark Souls
This was my very first FromSoftware game and what a way to introduce me to the series. It was hard to distinguish the top 3, but I’m happy with the decided placement. Being my first in the series will always give it a special place in my ranking. It had so many iconic bosses to offer, such as Ornstein and Smough, Gravelord Nito, Knight Artorias, Gwynn Lord of Cinder, and many more. They were distinguished in their design for the most part and challenging to fight. Although, if you were a magic user, some of these bosses were incredibly easy.
The interconnected design of the world was also a highlight, with many iconic areas for you to traverse. Who could forget the unforgiving Blight Town, or the sense of awe when you first entered Anor Londo. This game cemented FromSoftware as an incredible developer, shooting them into the limelight, and for good reason.
2.) Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 featured everything that made the first game so great, but also improved some aspects of the design. The combat and overall movement felt more fluid and responsive, incorporating some influence from Bloodborne. It was still very much in-line with what Souls fans would expect, but refined for a more enjoyable experience. Bosses continued the high quality of what came before. Perhaps my favourite boss from the main game has to be the Dancer of the Boreal Valley. She executes elegant movements while still being incredibly deadly. Her pirouette/spin attack will quickly end you if you get caught in it.
The DLC was also brilliant, offering some of the toughest bosses and deadliest sections. Slave Knight Gael, Darkeater Midir, as well as Sister Friede, were incredibly difficult to overcome. The best way to describe Dark Souls 3 is that it’s the first game but better.
1.) Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
The most recent, new FromSoftware title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, is also the studio’s best in my opinion. From a pure mechanical and gameplay side, it’s a masterpiece. The versatility in movement made this a joy to play through. The combat was by far the most satisfying and exciting, with an almost rhythmic quality to it that set it far apart from the rest. The posture system rewards those that master the timing and patterns of enemies and bosses. Deflecting and countering blows, alternating between this and dealing hits yourself, never got old, it was addictive. The story and lore also stood out from the crowd. It’s a running theme in this game that it stands apart from the rest, but also ends up being familiar/similar enough.
The world was varied and simply stunning at times. Fountainhead Palace is a picturesque marvel that is easily one of the best locations FromSoftware has ever crafted. Sekiro was also incredibly difficult, easily the hardest of them all. However, mastering the phenomenal combat and matching the bosses blow for blow, finally overcoming them, felt more rewarding than ever before. Unlike the others, you can’t grind to become over-levelled to make the fight easier, you simply have to practise and get better. It also helped that most of the bosses could be reached again quite quickly, removing that pointless tedium that other FromSoftware games had. The final fight in Sekiro stands as one of my favourites of all time. It was epic, tense, extremely challenging and tested everything you had learned up to that point. This was FromSoftware becoming more experimental and varied in their game design, and I hope it continues with Elden Ring.
FromSoftware’s unapologetic commitment to creating challenging experiences should be applauded, and it’s why they have become as successful and respected as they are now. I cannot wait to see what more they create in the future.
Thank you so much for reading and let me know what you thought in the comments below.
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Great post! I’ve started Sekiro just after finishing Dark Souls last year, and really liked what I played! The first bosses destroyed me on my first attempts lmao but I agree, the learning curb looks great. I’ll have to get back to it!
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Thanks. I struggled a lot at the start of Sekiro, but once I worked out the rhythm of combat/deflecting blows, it really became something special.
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I love that Sekiro was number one for you. I feel like it doesn’t get some of the credit it deserves because of some of the missing “Souls” elements (i.e. RPG stats/multiplayer, etc.) but it’s easily one of my favourite FromSoft games as well. Surprised to see Bloodborne so low, but your complaints about the combat are totally fair. Great to see your perspective on these games 🙂
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Yeah I can see why Souls fans might not appreciate Sekiro as much because of its differences. But I do think it benefits the game and makes the combat an even greater focus, if that makes sense.
Yeah I know a lot of people absolutely rave about Bloodborne, but the style of combat just didn’t gel with me as much, although that’s totally down to personal preference. Having to farm for blood vials on the other hand, often ruined the pacing and made it very tedious at times. I’m glad they brought back an Estus style healing item in Sekiro.
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