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!
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)
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)
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!