7 non-Souls From Software games we could play after Dark Souls III

from-software-laser-time

As From Software fans, we’ve been thinking on the basest on planes. What we need… are more suggestions.

Ever since Demon’s Souls earned numerous “game of the year” accolades in 2009, developer From Software went from “oh that company that churns out Armored Core games” to one of the most intriguing developers of the late 2000s. And thanks to spiritual follow-ups like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, today Fromsoft enjoys a degree of built-in hype and excitement.

But before demons and dragons and inter-dimensional space gods made Fromsoft a fortune, it crafted several other demanding, love-or-hate games that likely slipped past y’all’s (and m’all’s) radar. Problem is, From has been at it for years, which means there are a lot of potentially incredible games awaiting re-discovery.

Dark Souls III notwithstanding, I – and other Fromsoft fans who jumped aboard after ’09 – need your help to choose which From game to sample next. I’ve narrowed the list down to seven, as per the requirements of the listicle gods. If you know any of these games, sound off!

 

Ninja Blade

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Had Ninja Blade debuted mere months later, it’s possible more folks would’ve given its hyperactive Matrix-meets-Devil-May-Cry gameplay a closer look. Instead, this pre-Demon’s Souls title felt somewhat dismissed by the masses as a wannabe God of War or DMC, despite generally positive reviews that praised the cinematic nuttiness of it all.

I watched, at best, -a- trailer for this back in 2009. But looking at it now, I’m starting to wonder if I, like many others, made the wrong assessment back then. I doubt it’s exceptional or genre-defining, but surely a game with skyscraper-leaping ninjas is worth a second look? Plus it’s like $10 on Steam!

 

King’s Field (series)

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Given that this is a franchise with numerous sequels and in some ways laid the groundwork for Demon’s Souls, I have to assume there’s something here worth remembering. Of the three we have access to, two are PS1-era polygonal slogs that would be a challenge to get through today, while the PS2 version (King’s Field IV) apparently didn’t drastically improve the formula.

I can deal with “bad” or “old” graphics, but I gotta assume the PS1 entries are also pretty basic and/or frustrating in terms of UI, gameplay, item management and so on. So between potentially archaic PS1 versions or a lesser PS2 version, which is the way to go? Is the real answer “learn Japanese and play Shadow Tower Abyss,” a game that took King’s Field concepts and mixed them with ideas you’d see in Demon’s Souls?

The impression I get from internet chatter and reviews is that King’s Field was a love/hate title – it’s a slow moving, ambiance-driven dungeon crawler that makes huge demands from its players. Which, uh, definitely sounds like it planted the seeds that eventually brought us Demon’s and Dark Souls. And because of that, we should all probably give at least one King’s Field a look! But W H I C H  O N E.

 

Armored Core (series)

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More than 10 years ago I made an honest attempt to “get’ Armored Core. The idea of building and operating a giant robot is appealing, but unfortunately the entry I played (probably Silent Line) felt clumsy, difficult and nearly impenetrable. A quick sampling of Chromehounds yielded similar results. Flash forward to 2016, and plenty of folks would say the same things about Souls games… so was I wrong about Armored Core this whole time?

Probably not! I suspect most of the early ’00s entries are hard to wrap your head around, and not always in the “it’s fun to figure it out yourself” From Software style. That said, I asked y’all on Twitter to suggest ONE Armored Core and For Answer seemed to be the winner, with Verdict Day right behind it. I’m willing to admit I was wrong for ignoring this series for so long, but if there’s a better option than For Answer, lemme know!

Next page – demons, rabbits and presidents!

8 thoughts on “7 non-Souls From Software games we could play after Dark Souls III

  1. Hoo, doggy! Armored Core! I played AC2, AC2: Another Age, and Silent Line to death. I even convinced myself that the 2-disc Armored Core: Nexus was an underrated gem on PS2. The reality was… probably something in between. The series was fun to “figure out” and not much fun to actually play. There were some missions that demanded you load up on ammo to kill tons of tiny flying jerks. Others required you have heavy armor to just fly straight up a boss’ gut and shotgun him. Ammo cost money, so you had to balance what weapons you used, or potentially find yourself in the red after completing a mission.

    What happens if you reach a mission and literally have not been profitable enough for the first 3/4 of the game to buy strong enough armor? You die! Forever! And you cannot finish the game! Sucks to suck! Try your hand in the arena? The AI is SF4 Seth-levels of ultra-reaction times. Not gonna make any money there! And I hope you like strafing and looking up and down using ALL FOUR PS2 shoulder buttons, because they didn’t add full analog support until Armored Core 3.

    Armored Core isn’t Gundam, it’s Evangelion: your equipment sucks, nothing works right, you aren’t sure what’s out there in the coming mission, and you’ll probably be annihilated by something you never could have anticipated, never to recover. It’s really a story about emotional trauma, you guys, not mechs.

    Needless to say, it’s been too long. I hope AC comes back someday.

  2. I was recently looking at my PS1 saves that I have on my PS3, and I saw a King’s Field 2 save that had a level 999 character, or something crazy like that, I think it glitched somehow, I remember liking the game way back when, but certainly didn’t play it that long. And I’ve never tried too much of the Souls games, except the beginning of Demon’s Souls, even though I liked a very old PS1 version. Huh.

    I’m surprised From has made such a disparate array of games, I think the only ones I’ve played are King’s Field 2 and 3D Dot Game Heroes. That was pretty good, and it had references to Souls games just before they really started getting big.

  3. I had so much fun with Tenchu Z because it had fourplayer online co-op. Once you maxed out your abilities you were basically… a ninja. You could run around the entire map without anyone hearing you and you had a ton of moves to pull off. The best though was knocking guards out unconscious and throwing them into the pools of animal shit and watch them splash around and drown in it. Ahhhh fun times.

  4. I remember playing an Otogi on an OXM demo disk without really understanding what I was playing. I was a young teen, and I just didn’t get what an amazing character action experience it was. I would say that it’s an IP ripe for resurrection, but the tiny audience that character action games have, and From coining money from the Souls family of games, I doubt we’ll ever see it.

  5. As someone who played Ninja Blade (and completed it twice) I can honestly say it’s a fun game, really fun. It’s way over the top, as mentioned in the article, and it’s an all-round pretty good action game. The combat’s a little deep (different enemies require different attacks at times, the usual), though th e levels get a little same-y, and the final boss was a little too needlessly padded but it’s overall a great game, especially for a cheap price.

    On a side note, despite spending a good month or so playing it it wasn’t til now I actually realised it was by From Software. I also still have a poster of Ninja Blade up in my room that I got with a copy of a 360 magazine, the main character looks gloriously anime-tastic.

  6. Gotta say I think the original Armored Core is my favorite of the series. Played dozens of hours of that game just trading the controller back and forth with my cousin.

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