After pouring a ton of time into Death’s Gambit, a 2D action RPG inspired by the Dark Souls series, I’m now really curious about jumping into the soulslike genre.
In the past, games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne intimidated the hell out of me and I avoided them at all costs. I’ve gotten a bit older and wiser since then. Death’s Gambit is like finding a really dope song and then finding out that it’s a cover from a band I could never get into, but now I want to go back and dig through the crates and absorb what made the originals so great.
So on this week’s Viewpoints, I sit down with Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra and Gizmodo’s Tom Caswell to pose the question: If I could only play one “soulslike”, which should it be? Heather makes the case for Dark Souls, while Tom thinks I should skip them and go straight to Bloodborne.
Watch the video for the full discussion. Here’s an excerpt:
Heather: If you could only play one of them and you want to know what’s the deal with Dark Souls stuff, you should play Dark Souls, dummy! What are you doing? But if it’s a genre you’re maybe looking at later on and doing a bunch of stuff with, I think it’s important to go back to the original so you can appreciate all of the changes that happen in the other games. You can see in Death’s Gambit the way they handle health is similar but different, and I don’t think you appreciate those differences without seeing the original roadmap. Know your history, gosh darnit.
Tom: I think while Dark Souls is still a very fine game, it has become far removed from what Soulslike games have become. Bloodborne was the definitive way to experience this. One of the great things is that it updates the speed. It’s just a much faster game than any of the Dark Souls games prior and you can see when they made Dark Souls 3, they were like, “Oh we should borrow this fast-paced feeling that we got from Bloodborne.”
I tried to get into Demon Souls back when that game came out, and from Demon Souls to Dark Souls to Dark Souls 2, I tried and I tried. I thought, there’s something about this that’s saying ‘play me’” but it just felt too punishing. Bloodborne has this really cool mechanic where if you get attacked by an enemy, if you quickly retaliate, you can gain some of that health back and instead of feeling like I was being punished, it felt like I was being incentivized to jump in further. It taught me how to go back and play Dark Souls 1 and 2 better.
Paul: From the little that I’ve seen of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, it looks like the game incentivizes you to be a little more offensive. I’m much more of an offensive player when it comes to combat, and hearing that about Bloodborne makes me interested because Death’s Gambit does a very similar thing where it rewards you for being a little more aggressive with the way you play, and I love that.
Heather: I will say that one of the things Dark Souls does better than Bloodborne is the fact that Dark Souls allows you, to a greater extent, to create different characters and try out a lot more different play styles. I think in Bloodborne which is super fun and I like it a lot—the pace tends to stay the same from playthrough to playthrough.
Watch the full episode to hear more. Be sure to check out Viewpoints every Tuesday. If you want to watch it on YouTube, here’s a playlist.