We’re still a little sad that Bandai Namco’s ‘time to dine’ tease was for Code Vein rather than a new Dark Souls game or even a spin-off like Bloodborne. But fear not, there are plenty of indie games like Dark Souls just waiting to show you just how tough they are.
Whether you love the aesthetics of FromSoftware’s games or just love challenging yourself to defeat one of their big, bad bosses without throwing your controller through the wall, there are some indie Dark Souls clones aping the sadistically difficult series.
Here’s our pick of the best indie games like Dark Souls that you should be buying and playing, or at least wishlisting somewhere:
Salt and Sanctuary
Available on: PS4 and PC
Developer: Ska Studios
There’s something about Salt and Sanctuary that we love. We’re not sure whether it’s the stunning, stylised graphics or the blood-soaked dungeons, there’s plenty to admire about this Dark Souls clone. This intensely difficult 2D title unashamedly borrows plenty from its equally punishing source material.
There’s a fantastic balance of risk vs reward in Salt and Sanctuary, which it blends with some of its own mechanics, including custom checkpoints and a grid-based levelling system.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Bandai Namco
On the surface, Necropolis is your average roguelike where you battle your way through a series of connected, yet increasingly complex, levels. But unlike the often tile-based combat of many rogue-likes, Necropolis uses the same sword-and-shield melee combat as Dark Souls. In this game, each of the dungeons is built around a central lift system, which you must unlock by collecting gems, killing enemies and generally exploring.
What we love about Necropolis though, is that despite its dark and deep dungeons, this is very much a lighthearted game in terms of tone and storyline. Basically, the total opposite of Dark Souls.
Available on: PC
Developer: Daniel Wright
DarkMaus really embraces the fact it’s a Dark Souls clone, even if it is full of cute yet rather deadly mice. You play as a sword-wielding mouse trying to survive in a shattered and incredibly hostile world with some immense top-down gameplay. So far, not so Dark Souls.
But, with an all-important stamina bar connected to melee, magic and ranged weapon combat, along with block-and-dodge mechanics there is plenty of Dark Souls DNA here. There’s also something else that’s distinctly Dark Souls-like: every time you die you summon a ghost of yourself to fight alongside you using a system called Death Echoes.
Available on: PS4, PC, Mac, PS Vita and Android
Developer: Acid Nerve
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Titan Souls is the kind of game that’s for anyone who thought Dark Souls was a walk in the proverbial park. You play as just a tiny pixel human with a single arrow and just one hit point. As you can imagine, managing to take out any kind of boss with that kind of arsenal is near impossible. However, find the weak spot and you’ll soon find yourself succeeding, even if you do have to collect your arrow every time you fire it.
It’s an incredibly well-crafted game, with each boss arena having to be navigated in an almost puzzle-solving way. This is Dark Souls but much, much harder.
Hyper Light Drifter
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Linux and Mac
Developer: Heart Machine
Hyper Light Drifter might have appeared on our recommendation list for indie games like Legend of Zelda, but actually, it’s a game that borrows elements from both that and Dark Souls. Basically, the difficulty curve is almost ridiculous with unexpectedly fast-paced and brutal combat. Plus there’s the fact that your little knight can take very little damage.
You’ll be battling a variety of monsters who require lengthy and complex battle strategies to defeat – just like Dark Souls.
But although you may be prone to a few rage quits with this one, you’ll forgive it because of its glorious pixel art style. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before and it’s absolutely stunning. And just like in Dark Souls or its sibling Bloodborne, why you’re doing any of it – including coughing dramatically – is rather mysterious.
Available on: PS4 and PC
Developer: White Rabbit
Publisher: Adult Swim
Death’s Gambit is a wonderful blend of Dark Souls and Castlevania with a little bit of Shadow of the Colossus thrown in for good measure. It’s a glorious pixel art affair, with your agile hero needing to dodge, defend and attack while balancing your stamina bar. Gameplay-wise, it’s very much a 2D Dark Souls clone but with the art style of Castlevania and the side-scrolling nature of Shadow of the Colossus.
It’s a fantastic little adventure that anyone who loves a challenge – and Dark Souls, of course – will enjoy.