‘*Insert Game Title Here* is the Dark Souls of *Insert Genre Here*’
If you play games as much as I do, then you’ve seen this headline on many an article about video games. Crash Bandicoot, Cuphead, Breath of the Wild, so on and so forth. Why? Because these games are hard.
The only thing that makes Dark Souls so iconic is the difficulty, right?
If you’ve actually played any of the Souls games (which, fear not, I have), then you know that there is so much more to those games than ‘Dur, it’s really hard!’. From it’s insane bosses, eerily silent over-world, unsettling atmosphere, to it’s minimalist but deep story, the Dark Souls franchise is stuffed to the brim with quality.
Except for Dark Souls 2. That game sucks. Fight me.
Controversial opinions aside, you can’t deny the fact that Dark Souls has changed the gaming landscape. The most important change is the creation of a new genre, the Souls-Like (hey, I didn’t choose the name). Games like Nioh, The Surge, Salt and Sanctuary, hell even From Software’s own Bloodborne (which isn’t a Souls game, fight me) are fantastic examples of Souls-Like games.
Why are these the good examples, you ask? Well, to me, a Souls-Like game isn’t just a hard game. To qualify as a Souls-Like, the game must have an emphasis on collectibles that can make you stronger (which you can lose and reacquire upon death), atmospheric settings and intense boss fights. Yes, difficulty is typically a big part of Souls-Like games. But it isn’t the only qualifier.
So how come you never see articles like ‘Nioh is the Dark Souls of Samurai Games’ or something stupid like that?
Simplicity, that’s why.
Let’s face it, not everyone puts the same amount of thought into what makes a game like Dark Souls as some of us do. To people who never finished a Souls game, or even played them, all they’ve heard is ‘Oh man, Dark Souls is super hard!’ So, when a gaming journalist needs to write an article about a game that is even somewhat high in difficulty, they have an easy title to bring in the clicks: ‘So-and-So Game is the Dark Souls of So-and-So Genre’. Let’s face it, there’s no avoiding it. Not everyone has the will-power to finish a Souls game.
But that begs the question: why is that a problem?
While I don’t speak for everyone, I can at least speak for why this is a problem to me. To me, articles like this really undermine everything else that makes Dark Souls so wonderful. They don’t capture the magic of the story, or the chill of the atmosphere, or the intensity of the bosses. It feels like a sleight against the games, almost as if the author is stating ‘Dark Souls is just a hard game, nothing more.’ That’s why I hate these articles, at least. Because I want them to understand that there’s so much more to these games than just ‘It’s hard’. But for every one person I convince, another ten people are convinced of the opposite by these articles.
That’s why I, at least, don’t like these articles. Because I want everyone to see what I see in Dark Souls. But I just have to accept that not everyone will be able to see it. And you know what? I think I can live with that.
I’ll just scream into my pillow every time I see an article like this and make everything okay.
Thanks for reading and have a lovely day.