The Souls series (ソウルシリーズ Sōru shirīzu) is a series of action role-playing video games created and developed by FromSoftware. The series began with the release of Demon's Souls for the PlayStation 3 in 2009. It was followed by Dark Souls in 2011, and its sequels, Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III, in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The series' creator was Hidetaka Miyazaki, who directed all of them with the exception of Dark Souls II.
|Platforms||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows|
|Platform of origin||PlayStation 3|
|First release||Demon's Souls
February 5, 2009
|Latest release||Dark Souls III
March 24, 2016
The Souls games are played in a third-person perspective, and focus on weapon and magic-based combat with monsters, and exploration. Players battle bosses, interact with the strange non-playable characters, and journey through the medieval-like, interconnected environments in order to progress through the story. The series is notable for its difficulty, a common point of both praise and criticism. The series is considered a spiritual successor to King's Field. Another FromSoftware developed game, Bloodborne, shares many concepts and gameplay mechanics with the Souls series.
The games take place within a medieval fantasy setting, where the player fights against knights, dragons, and various monsters. A recurring theme of the games' settings is that of a once powerful and prosperous kingdom, which has fallen into ruins after a series of unfortunate events. Each installment follows a different quest for the player character: in Demon's Souls, to try to halt the spread of a demon-infested fog; in Dark Souls, to prolong an age of prosperity known as The Age of Fire; in Dark Souls II, to find a cure for the ailment known as "hollowing"; and in Dark Souls III to put an end to the undead curse and the repeating cycle of The Age of Fire.
The protagonist of each Souls game can have a varying gender, appearance, name, and starting class. Players can choose between classes, including knights, barbarians, thieves, and mages. Each class has its own starting equipment and abilities that can be tailored by the player's experience and choices as they progress. The player gains Souls from gameplay battles which act as both experience points to level up and as currency to buy items. Souls gained are usually proportional to the difficulty of fighting certain enemies; the more difficult an enemy, the more Souls the player will gain.
One of the core mechanics of the series is that it uses death to teach players how to react in hostile environments, encouraging repetition, learning from past mistakes, and prior experience as a means of overcoming its difficulty. Upon losing all of their health points and dying, players lose their Souls and are teleported back to a bonfire where they last rested, which serves as a checkpoint. One chance is given for the player to recover their lost Souls in the form of a bloodstain, which are placed at or around where they last died. If the player dies again before reaching their bloodstain, the Souls are permanently lost. As most enemies are respawned following player death, or if the player should rest at a bonfire, the player has the opportunity to regain more Souls by repeated combat encounters. Another core aspect of the Souls games is dependency on endurance in battle. Performing attacks, blocking, or dodging consume stamina, which otherwise quickly restores if the player stands still or just walks around. Certain moves cannot be executed if the player lack stamina, making them vulnerable to attack. Players must balance their rate of attacks against defensive moves and brief periods of rest to survive more difficult encounters.
Online interaction in the Souls games is integrated into the single-player experience. Throughout levels, players can briefly see the actions of other players as ghosts in the same area that may show hidden passages or switches. When a player dies, a bloodstain can be left in other players' game world that when activated can show a ghost playing out their final moments, indicating how that person died and potentially helping the player avoid the same fate in advance. Players can leave messages on the ground that can either help players by providing hints or warnings, or harm players by leaving false hints. Players can also engage in both player versus player combat and cooperative gameplay using invasion or summoning mechanics.
|2014||Dark Souls II|
|2016||Dark Souls III|
Released in 2009 for PlayStation 3, Demon's Souls is the first game in the Souls series. It has also been described as a spiritual successor to the King's Field series of games, while at the same time being described as a separate entity "guided by differing core game design concepts." It also drew inspiration from video games such as Ico, The Legend of Zelda, and the early Dragon Quest games, as well as manga such as Berserk, Saint Seiya and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
Demon's Souls takes place in the fictional kingdom of Boletaria, which is being ravaged by a cursed fog that brings forth demons who feast on the souls of mortals. Unlike its successors, Demon's Souls uses a central hub system known as the "Nexus" where players can level up, repair equipment, or buy certain items, before venturing into one of the five connected worlds. The "World Tendency" feature is also exclusive to Demon's Souls, where the difficulty of exploring a world is dependent on how many bosses have been killed, and how the player dies. The gameplay involves a character-creation system and emphasizes gathering loot through combat with enemies in a non-linear series of varied locations. It has an online multiplayer system integrated into single-player, in which players can leave messages and warnings for other players' worlds, as well as joining other players to assist and/or kill them.
Dark Souls is the second game in the Souls series, and considered a spiritual successor to Demon's Souls. From Software wanted to craft games similar to Demon's Souls but the exclusivity of the title to the Sony PlayStation platform prevented them from using the same name on other platforms. Instead From Software crafted a new intellectual property to be published on multiple consoles. It was released in 2011 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. In 2012, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, featuring the base game and the Artorias of the Abyss downloadable content. The game takes place in the fictional kingdom of Lordran. Players assume the role of a cursed human character who has been chosen to discover the fate of the Undead. The plot of Dark Souls is primarily told through descriptions of in-game items and dialogue with non-playable characters (NPCs). Players must piece together clues in order to understand the story, rather than told through more traditional means, such as through cutscenes. Dark Souls garnered recognition due to its grueling difficulty and unforgiving challenge.
Dark Souls IIEdit
Dark Souls II is the third installment in the Souls series. Unlike the previous two games, director Hidetaka Miyazaki did not reprise his role. It was released in 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. In 2015, an updated version featuring The Lost Crowns downloadable content was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, under the title Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin - with the latter two platforms receiving retail releases. The game takes place in the fictional kingdom of Drangleic, where the player must find a cure for the undead curse. Although set in the same universe as the previous game, there is no direct story connection to Dark Souls.
Dark Souls IIIEdit
Dark Souls III was officially announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015, and was released in Japan on March 24, 2016, and worldwide on April 12, 2016, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The gameplay is faster paced than previous Souls installments, which was attributed in part to the gameplay of Bloodborne.
In an interview promoting Dark Souls III, Miyazaki was asked how he felt about the current amount of Souls games. He responded by saying, "I don't think it'd be the right choice to continue indefinitely creating Souls and Bloodborne games. I'm considering Dark Souls 3 to be the big closure on the series. That's not just limited to me, but From Software and myself together want to aggressively make new things in the future... I believe that From Software has to create new things. There will be new types of games coming from us, and Dark Souls 3 is an important marker in the evolution of From Software."
In April 2016, it was reported that Miyazaki and FromSoftware had begun working on a new intellectual property (IP), and had no current plans to continue the Souls series with sequels or spin-offs. Miyazaki also acknowledged the demand for a Demon's Souls remaster, but stated that the project would most likely be handled through a different studio.
The King's Field series debuted in 1994 for the PlayStation with King's Field and its two sequels. After the original trilogy, a fourth game was released for the PlayStation 2, after which, the series had some spinoff titles. The King's Field series is considered a spiritual predecessor to the Souls series.
Another FromSoftware game, Bloodborne, was directed by Souls series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and released for the PlayStation 4 in March 2015. Although it is its own intellectual property and not a Souls installment, it shares many of the same concepts and is often associated with the series.
On February 28, 2016, Bandai Namco Entertainment partnered with American retailer GameStop to release Slashy Souls, a free-to-play mobile endless runner based on the series. The game is presented in a pixel art style, and shares the series' level of difficulty. The game was met with highly negative critical reception, with reviewers such as Chris Carter of Destructoid and Jim Sterling both giving the game a 1/10.
On January 19, 2016, Titan Comics announced that a comic book based on the series would be released later that year. The first issue debuted on April 6, 2016, to coincide with the international release of Dark Souls III on April 12. That same month, a Kickstarter campaign for an officially licensed board game based on the series was announced, titled Dark Souls – The Board Game. The campaign was funded within the first three minutes of its launch, and was published by Steamforged Games and released in April 2017.
In February 2017, music from the series, composed by Motoi Sakuraba, was performed by a live orchestra at the Salle Pleyel concert hall in Paris. In September of that year, a limited edition vinyl box set containing the soundtracks of all three games was released in Europe. In Japan, a box set containing the enhanced versions of all three games for the PlayStation 4, the soundtracks for each, bookends, artwork prints, and dictionaries detailing every in-game item from the series will be released on May 24, 2018.
|Dark Souls||2011||PC: 85/100
|Dark Souls II||2014||PC: 91/100
|Dark Souls III||2016||PC: 89/100
Dark Souls originally did not have a port for Microsoft Windows, but upon seeing a fan petition for it, Bandai Namco community manager Tony Shoupinou lauded their support, and a Windows port was released in 2012. Dark Souls is also considered by some critics to be one of the greatest games of all time, and has influenced the development of other games, including Destiny, Alienation, Lords of the Fallen, Salt and Sanctuary, Shovel Knight, Titan Souls, and Enter the Gungeon. The series inspired a social media app for iOS and Android called Soapstone, which uses a similar online messaging system used in the series adapted for the real world, using GPS to determine a user's location and bringing up a list of cryptic messages posted by other users in the area.
Dark Souls II also received critical acclaim, and is the highest rated game in the series on Metacritic. Before release, Dark Souls III was one of the most anticipated games of 2016, and also received critical acclaim upon release.
As of March 2015[update], Demon's Souls had sold over 1.7 million copies, while as of May 2016[update], the Dark Souls trilogy had sold over 13 million copies. Dark Souls III broke sales records upon release, with the title being the fastest-selling game in Bandai Namco's history, selling over three million copies worldwide a month after its international release.
The Souls series has led the video game industry to use the term "Souls-like" to describe action role-playing games from other developers that follow general principles of the Souls series, though there is no well-established definition for such games. These Souls-like games typically have a high level of difficulty where repeated player-character death is expected and incorporated as part of the gameplay, losing all progress if certain checkpoints have not been reached, and a means to permanently improve the player-character's abilities as to be able to progress further. Such games considered as Souls-like include Salt and Sanctuary, Lords of the Fallen, Nioh, The Surge, and Code Vein.
- Houghton, David. (March 5, 2014). "Why Dark Souls is the friendliest, most benevolent game of its generation". GamesRadar. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- Harrison, William. (October 10, 2011). "Dark Souls isn’t hard, gamers are just stupid and impatient". Venture Beat. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- North, Dale. "Non-review: Why I couldn't finish Demon's Souls". Destructoid. Destructoid. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
- Atlus, ed. (2009). Demon's Souls game manual (North American). Atlus. p. 5.
- Atlus, ed. (2009). Demon's Souls game manual (North American). Atlus. pp. 22–23.
- Atlus, ed. (2009). Demon's Souls game manual (North American). Atlus. pp. 16–17.
- Atlus, ed. (2009). Demon's Souls game manual (North American). Atlus. p. 19.
- VanOrd, Kevin (October 3, 2011). "Dark Souls Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Kollar, Philip (March 11, 2014). "Dark Souls 2 Review: not the end". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "Atlus Officially Announces Demon's Souls for North America". IGN. Ziff Davis. July 6, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Matulef, Jeffrey. "Bloodborne director reveals his favourite boss from the "Souls" series". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
- Teti, John (November 13, 2011). "Retrospective: King's Field". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Kollar, Phil. "Demon's Souls Director Discusses Difficulty, Sequels, And More". Gameinformer. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
- Mielke, James. "'Dark Souls' Creator Miyazaki on 'Zelda,' Sequels and Starting Out". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
- Simon Parkin. "Bloodborne creator Hidetaka Miyazaki: 'I didn't have a dream. I wasn't ambitious'". the Guardian. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Bloodborne Creator Describes Influences and Game Design History, IGN
- "Dark Souls online play to bring back the feeling of old Dragon Quest games". VG247.com. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "Dark Souls Design Works Translation: Weapons and Equipment Part 1/2". giantbomb.com. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Matulef, Jeffrey. "Demon's Souls still feels fresher than its "Dark" successors". Eurogamer. dx.net. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
- Jin Ha Lee; Clarke, Rachel Ivy; Sacchi, Simone; Jett, Jacob (2014). "Relationships among video games: Existing standards and new definitions". Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 51 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1002/meet.2014.14505101035.
- Moriarty, Colin (May 11, 2011). "Dark Souls Release Date Revealed". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Onyett, Charles (May 31, 2012). "New Dark Souls Content Coming to Consoles". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Matulef, Jeffrey. "Miyazaki won't be directly involved in Dark Souls 2, doesn't want too many sequels". EuroGamer. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (March 6, 2014). "Dark Souls 2 PC release date confirmed". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Pitcher, Jenna (December 29, 2014). "Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin Director Reveals New Details". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- mikemcwhertor. "Dark Souls 2 coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2015". Polygon.
- Gifford, Kevin (December 19, 2012). "Dark Souls 2 developer: If Dark Souls was set in the North Pole, this one would be in the South Pole". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Aetas Inc. "「DARK SOULS III」PS4/Xbox One版の発売日が2016年3月24日に決定。PS4版ネットワークテスターの募集も開始". 4Gamer.net.
- McWhertor, Michael (June 15, 2015). "Dark Souls 3 confirmed, coming early 2016". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Mahardy, Mike. "Dark Souls III is Faster, Smoother, and More Fluid Than its Predecessors". Gamespot. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
- "Dark Souls 3's combat is faster in a post-Bloodborne world". Polygon.
- Hussain, Tamoor. "Dark Souls 3 Interview: "It Wouldn't Be Right to Continue Creating Souls"". GameSpot. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (April 27, 2016). "Dark Souls dev begins work on new IP - report". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
- Makuch, Eddie. "Dark Souls 3 Director Talks Franchise Legacy, Possibly Demon's Souls Remaster, More". GameSpot. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
- Hillier, Brenna. (June 13, 2014). "Bloodborne is not a successor to Demon’s Souls, Yoshida insists". VG247. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
- Yamagiwa, Masaaki (June 10, 2014). "Bloodborne Coming Exclusively to PS4 in 2015, New Details". PlayStation Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Kollar, Philip. "Bloodborne is not Dark Souls; here's how it should set itself apart". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
- "E3 2014: The Similarities and Differences Between Bloodborne and Dark Souls". GameSpot.
- Saltzman, Mitchell. "8 PlayStation Games That Need to be Remade or Remastered". IGN. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- Wan, Zhiqing. "Ranking All 5 Soulsborne Games From Worst to Best". Twinfinite. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- Kollar, Philip (February 27, 2016). "Slashy Souls: a first look at Namco's new Dark Souls-inspired mobile game". Polygon. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- Carter, Chris. "Review: Slashy Souls". Destructoid. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- Sterling, Jim. "Slashy Souls Review – Dark Holes". thejimquisition.com. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
- Schedeen, Jesse. "DARK SOULS COMIC BOOK COMING IN APRIL 2016". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
- Prescott, Shaun. "The Dark Souls series is getting a board game". PC Gamer. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- Klepek, Patrick. "Crowdfunded Dark Souls Board Game Raises $200,000 In Less Than Two Hours". Kotaku. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- Makuch, Eddie. "Dark Souls Board Game Funded in 3 Minutes". GameSpot. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- Osborn, Alex. "Dark Souls to Be Featured in Bandai Namco's Orchestral Concert in Europe". IGN. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Hussain, Tamoor. "See The Dark Souls Series' Super Limited Vinyl Soundtrack Collection". GameSpot. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- Barnett, Brian. "Dark Souls Trilogy Box Set Announced for Japan". IGN. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- "Demon's Souls for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
- "Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
- "Dark Souls for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
- "Dark Souls for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
- "Dark Souls II for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- "Dark Souls II for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
- "Dark Souls II for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
- "Dark Souls III for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- "Dark Souls III for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- "Dark Souls III for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
- "Best New IP". GameTrailers. December 21, 2009. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- "Gamespot's Best and Worst of 2009 – Game of the Year 2009". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
- Grayson, Nathan (January 13, 2012). "Dark Souls PC petition at nearly 70,000 signatures, Namco listening". PC Gamer. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Dutton, Fred (November 4, 2012). "Dark Souls PC release date announced, Games For Windows Live support confirmed". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- "The 100 best games ever". GamesRadar. February 25, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Breault, Chris (February 24, 2014). "How Do You Make An RPG After Dark Souls?". Kill Screen.
- Slabaugh, Brett (December 18, 2013). "Destiny Inspired by Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, Bungie Says". The Escapist.
- Tach, Dave (August 22, 2014). "How Dark Souls influenced Alienation, the next game from Resogun's developer". Polygon.com.
- Makuch, Eddie (January 5, 2015). "Lords of the Fallen Dev Talks Dark Souls Comparisons". GameSpot.
- McElroy, Griffin (August 28, 2013). "How Salt and Sanctuary reimagines Dark Souls as a 2D action-platformer". Polygon.
- Williams, Mike (May 24, 2014), Game Dev Recipes: Shovel Knight, USgamer, retrieved May 26, 2014
- Hamilton, Andi (April 13, 2015). "Titan Souls". PCGamer.
- Crooks, Dave. "How to Get Started in Enter the Gungeon on PS4". PlayStation.Blog. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- Klepek, Patrick (April 16, 2015). "App Lets You Leave Cryptic Bloodborne Messages In Real Life". Kotaku.
- "The most anticipated games of 2016". GamesRadar. Futurepic. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- "Kotaku UK's Most Anticipated Games of 2016". Kotaku. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- Guerrero, Agustin. "Screen Rant's 30 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2016". Screen Rant. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- Rad, Chloi (April 4, 2016). "Dark Souls 3 Review". IGN. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- Davenport, James (April 4, 2016). "Dark Souls III Review". PC Gamer. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- Tassi, Paul (March 16, 2015). "'Bloodborne' May Be The PS4's Salvation In 2015". Forbes. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Purchese, Robert (July 1, 2015). "Dark Souls series sales surpass 8.5 million". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Romano, Sal. "Dark Souls III tops three million shipments, Dark Souls series tops 13 million". Gametsu. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
- Makuch, Eddie. "Dark Souls 3 Breaks Sales Records". GameSpot. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Potter, Matt (April 18, 2016). "Dark Souls 3 Is Bandai Namco's Fastest Selling Game Ever". IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- Klepek, Patrick. "Salt And Sanctuary Is An Excellent 2D Dark Souls". Kotaku. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
- Purchase, Robert (September 23, 2014). "ideo: Playing a new boss battle in Lords of the Fallen". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
- Espileni, Matt (January 21, 2017). "Nioh Is A Brutal Return To Form For Ninja Gaiden Developer". IGN. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
- Donnelley, Joe (May 16, 2017). "The Surge has 'Souls-like' combat but is best approached 'from a Bloodborne state of mind'". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
- Saed, Sharif (May 2, 2017). "The first trailer for Code Vein proves this is the Vampire Souls we thought we're getting". VG247. Retrieved May 17, 2017.