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Although Demon’s Souls is technically where it all started from, Dark Souls games are what defined a genre. So much so, that ”hard” games are generally known as the Soulslike (Or Soulsborne) games – a testament to the influence and the popularity of FromSoftware’s biggest and best known IP.

Soulslike games are defined as games with high difficulty that can neither be adjusted nor changed, a very high-stakes and high-risk fights where dying means loss of resources (and sometimes health) and where the checkpoints are scarce. It offers a truly challenging experience and the only way to get through the games is to play them at the developer set difficulty (with some exceptions). Another Soulsborne, or Soulslike games’ feature, and what essentially adds to the challenge, is the presence of a stamina bar. This essentially blocks you from spamming attacks, dodges or blocks in any capacity, meaning that every engagement with the enemy has to be planned and every move made with a purpose.

The difficulties of the games are subjective – some players might find Sekiro harder than Bloodborne, while others may find Nioh 2 harder than all of them. The speed of combat and how the game likes to be played varies from game to game, so depending on what the player is used to will influence the difficulty.

The popularity of the Dark Souls games has seen a development and release of many games with similar mechanic, some made by FromSoftware, others made by other developers trying their hand at the genre.

But not all Soulsike games are the same, they do not have the same mechanics and the way in which the games demand to be played varies greatly. The only constant is the tremendous challenge that the players are faced with. Renowned for their difficulties, here are 5 Soulslike games that are actually (subjectively) harder than Dark Souls.

  • Nioh

Many gamers that have played Nioh tend to agree that it can be a lot harder than Dark Souls at the start of the game. The game puts you though the trial by fire, and as such, Nioh demands patience, as well as skill. If you make it through the first few bosses, you’re likely going to get through the entirety of the game. Be warned, however, the game is extremely punishing.

The good thing about Nioh is that if you have enough patience to get through the start of the game, where dodging and thinking quickly on your feet is vital, yet unfamiliar, the rest of the game isn’t going to be comparatively as difficult as the first few hours might be. It is worth pointing out, however, that Nioh is a challenging game and for some, while challenge is welcome, too much of it can hamper the enjoyment of the game.

If you like a challenge in the spirit of Dark Souls, Nioh offers such challenge and more. The idea of Irish Geralt Samurai killing demons in Feudal Japan is more than enough to pique anyone’s interest. The difficulty and the player skill usually decide whether that interest translates to the game completion.

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

While Dark Souls have a very Medieval European aesthetic to it, Sekiro (as well as Nioh), focus on Feudal Japanese aesthetic. There aren’t many similarities in the look (and feel) of the two games, however the ‘hard’ challenge posed by Dark Souls has been challenged itself by Sekrio.

Unlike the Soulsborne games that usually feature a stamina bar (or Ki in the case of Nioh), Sekiro does not have a stamina bar, and objectively looking, the game would be impossible to play with one. One could argue that the stance bar is the Sekiro’s version of the stamina bar, but the movement and running around isn’t restricted in the way it is in other Soulsborne games. This is often due to having to play defensivelly in a lot of cases, running around the boss, watching the animation and looking for a small window of opportunity to strike.

It’s therefore not a surprise that there are no stamina restrictions. As we’ve mentioned previously, game would be impossible with it.

Unlike the Dark Souls, success at Sekro depends a lot on the reaction time, understanding the animation, looking at the enemies and predicting their moves in order to act accordingly. Sekiro demands attention to the fight, quick thinking, with no real way to ‘cheese’ the game, or bosses. A true challenge that will humble even the most hardcore Dark Souls player.

  • Bloodborne

Another Soulslike game from FromSoftware, Bloodborne is often described as harder than Dark Souls, even though the aesthetics and the basics of the game are very familiar to any Souls player.

As we’ve mentioned above, due to the influence and the difficulty of the Bloodborne as well as its similarities to the Dark Souls games, this subgenre of difficult games is also sometimes referred to as Soulsborne. It almost feels like a ‘natural progression’ to play Bloodborne after the Dark Souls games, but don’t expect the difficulty to go down or remain as it was in Dark Souls.

  • Remnant: From the Ashes

A brutally difficult game that’s often thought of as ‘Dark Souls with guns’, Remnant: From the Ashes offers an extremely fluid and fun gunplay, in a brutal and unforgiving world that rivals that of the Dark Souls.

Unlike the Dark Souls however, Remnant: From the Ashes does offer a difficulty setting. The game is already challenging on Normal, however if you’d like to try your luck on harder difficulty, the option exists. The ultimate challenge is the Apocalypse setting, which offers  no other warning nor disclaimer except ‘ultimate challenge’.

The enemies in Remnant: From the Ashes are also a lot more relentless when hutning the player. They also tend to flank or pop out behind the player,

Already a very difficult game on normal, Remnant: From the Ashes, offers you the opportunity to go beyond the ‘harder than Dark Souls’ challenge.

  • Nioh 2

Nioh 2 may take some time to get into and learn the combat, much like its predecessor Nioh. The bosses remain exceedingly challenging, the Yokai are unpredictable and at times very difficult. Similarly to the first game, if you survive the first couple of bosses, chances are you’ll get through the rest of the game.

It is worth pointing out that Nioh sports a somewhat complex fighting style. In addition to having two weapons, the player must decide which stance to use when fighting enemies. There are four stances, each with different type of attack, speed and block, so familiarity with all is required in order to get through the game.

Knowing the enemy, when it’s better to dodge and when to block is essential in succeeding at Nioh 2, though such takes a lot of practice and a lot of death.

Nioh 2 is a stunning game, with wonderful fantasy feel to it, enough to throw you off and make you forget that the environment and the enemies are among some of the most difficult and brutal in gaming.

And the one we expect will be harder than Dark Souls – Elden Ring

A spiritual successor to Dark Souls, Elden Ring is an upcoming RPG by FromSoftware that has the gaming community hyped. Set for a release on February 25th 2022 and with a narrative written in collaboration with George R.R Martin, the hype for the game is unsurprising and the expectations are high.

But like many other FromSoftware’s games, we expect the Elden Ring to be a much harder game than Dark Souls. Moving away from a more linear style, the Elden Ring will be an open world RPG – something that FromSoftware has not really dabbled in. What this will mean for world bosses and enemies around the map remains to be seen, but FromSoftware has not yet disappointed us in neither the narrative nor the challenge their games offer.

Although it remains to be seen, we predict that Elden Ring will be a much harder game than Dark Souls.