Where To Go Next
Souls-like games have ventured into 2D territory with Salt and Sanctuary, Ancient Japan in Nioh, near future with The Surge, and of course high and dark fantasy. But where could future games in this niche sub-genre go? We’ve constructed a list to answer just that question, looking at the numerous possibilities and the gameplay mechanics that could accompany them.
Setting a Dark Souls style game in the old west would benefit from the unique weaponry of the time. Six shooters, rifles, horses, and other preliminary guns would add a new wrinkle to a formula that has largely succeeded due to incredibly precise close quarters combat.
A supernatural element could also be worked in, creating a title that draws inspiration from classics such as The Dark Tower. A combination of long-range battles, the same melee combat with swords, bats, and other various tools, and maybe even horseback combat could work, mixing things up even further.
Dark Souls and the games it has inspired have all been very dark, somber affairs. Creating a game that goes against all of that visually while still maintaining the same tough as nails combat would be simultaneously entertaining and hilarious.
A very cute world filled with devious enemies that must be defeated with the likes of candy canes, pool noodles, and Frisbees would be interesting for sure. Making the game feel intense without coming off as just dumb might be a bit challenging but it would ensure that the unique style of game wouldn’t grow stale as fast.
What’s more dangerous than an old medieval castle filled with zombies and terrifying beasts? How about the concrete jungle, teaming with devious gangs and whack jobs that will jump out of every alleyway and try to beat you to death with a bat?
Fighting against throngs of gang members and maybe even crazed members of corporate America could make for some interesting combat encounters, especially if a little bit of craziness is injected into the game to give it a bit of flair.
Not only are there other Neanderthals to dodge and attack in the Stone Age but also a plethora of beasts that would make excellent opponents. Scrounging together supplies to make weapons and then unleashing your fury on anything that moves sounds like a good way to simultaneously evolve the Dark Souls formula and create an engaging action RPG.
Other humans would be fairly weak enemies while taking down a mammoth or even a dinosaur (the timeline doesn’t have to be 100% realistic) would offer up some of the challenges that fans of the Souls series crave.
The Surge takes Dark Souls formula to the near future, but going even further forward in time would make for an incredibly intriguing setting. The weaponry and locales can be completely bizarre, everything from laser swords to mechanical augmentations.
Outfitting your character with alien technology and weaponry would change the combat and allow for incredibly interesting encounters with characters. Building a narrative around interacting with a new species would make for natural character and combat progression.
Greek mythology is filled with betrayal and blood, not to mention horrifying monsters that want nothing more than to disembowel helpless soldiers. A game with the combat of Dark Souls in a world not too dissimilar from that of God of War would create a beautiful game with harrowing enemies to defeat.
A combination of finely crafted weapons and godly powers would make for a good back and forth. The locales could stretch from ancient cities to mythical locations like Atlantis and Mount Olympus. A mix of real-world locations and fantastical ones would create an atmosphere unlike other games we’ve seen before.
Another one of the bloodiest battles in history, the American Revolution is a conflict soaked in controversy and violence. Firearms were just beginning to reach a point where they could be reloaded relatively quickly so the combination of spears, swords, and axes with slow firing rifles would be a perfect fit for Dark Souls’ deliberately paced combat.
Maybe the political standing of a particular character can define their strength, meaning you would have to fight your way up the ranks of the American political system in its infancy, mixing intriguing political history with combat that constantly keeps you on your toes.
Imagine this: the world has ended thanks to nuclear war or some other horrendous disaster. A new world order has emerged. A world order filled with mutants, radiation, and plenty of scavengers looking to kill anything that has more than they do. It’s a world that breeds violence, which is perfect for a Souls style game.
The setting would add to the bleakness of the game. Scavenging could be built in as a mechanic, making loot much more important in a broken world. The player could mutate themselves to gain benefits and survive more easily in a new, combat-heavy wasteland.
An incredibly creative route a Souls-like could go down is taking the player to a completely alien world. This would allow for completely original enemies, weapons, combat styles, and even mechanics. Imagine fighting in Zero G or having to contend with alien weather that also wants to see you dead.
It would be an opportunity to let creativity run wild and offer up something unseen. Inventing bizarre new weapons would also make for incredibly diverse combat, not to mention opportunities to expand gameplay beyond what it has been in the past.
There is a world of possibility inside our minds, and setting a Souls-like inside a dreamscape would offer up unlimited possibilities. Every new dreamscape could be something entirely new, taking the tried and true mechanics of a souls game and letting the player explore a plethora of worlds, ensuring that the adventure never grows stale.
The gameplay itself could revolve around harvesting dreams and fighting against the physical representations of a person’s nightmares. The real hook would be the sheer variety of enemies and locales that would continually keep things fresh.