What are the best soulslike games on PC in 2023? One of gaming’s newer genres that got it start with the 2009 release of FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls, Soulslikes are characterized by punishing stamina-based combat and a ‘souls’ system, wherein you lose an accrued currency gained from defeating enemies upon defeat. FromSoftware has gone on to release Game of the Year Award Winner after Game of the Year Award Winner with these mechanics, spawning more than a few copycats that take direct inspiration from their mega-hits.
Some things remain the same across all Soulslikes: patience in the face of repeated failure rewards you with progress through sprawling worlds – typically of a dark fantasy aesthetic – that are filled with ‘bonfires’ or other places of reprieve to rest at, not to mention an increasingly powerful character. And some things do not: many don’t lean into both passive and active online play with other players. Here, we’re looking at the best truly Soulslike games you can play on your PC in 2023: those that capture the spirit of FromSoftware’s pioneering classics. And even if Sony and FromSoftware haven’t ported Bloodborne, the best Soulslike, to PC yet, there’s more than a few available to scratch that masochistic itch.
The best Soulslike games on PC in 2023 are:
It’s impossible to talk about Soulslikes without mentioning Elden Ring – so let’s get it out of the way. Like pretty much every other outlet, PCGamesN rated it the Game of the Year in 2022, and if you somehow still haven’t played FromSoftware’s (current) magnum opus, you won’t find a better – if a little extra intimidating because of its sprawling open world – Soulslike to get started with.
From the first moments after you finish the tutorial, the Lands Between serve as one of the most intriguing and gorgeous fantasy worlds ever made. From the massive elevator that descends into the subterranean yet star-speckled Siofra River, to the sprawling vista of Liurnia of the Lakes right after Stormwind Castle, and countless more, it’s quite easy to sink hours just exploring and taking in all the wonderful sights. Difficult bosses, hard-to-decipher-lore, diverse character builds, and secrets upon secrets encourage playthroughs upon playthroughs. You don’t really need another Soulslike after Elden Ring – but if the open world isn’t for you, the rest of the games on this list are much more linear.
Dark Souls Trilogy
Good news! All three Dark Souls games are available on PC, and much like Elden Ring, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t played them. Dark Souls: Remastered features some of the tightest level design in the entire genre and is a great way to experience the game that truly popularized it. While Dark Souls II unfortunately takes a step back with its level design, it makes up for it with some great quality of life improvements, new design ideas, and amazing DLC – if you’re keen to shell out a little more coin for it. Of course, Dark Souls III plays incredibly tight and has the most challenging, well designed bosses, great lore, and even better art design. You can’t go wrong with booting up any of the three and sinking a couple dozen hours into their dark, rich worlds.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Only one more FromSoftware game – I promise. Where the Dark Souls games created the genre, and Elden Ring broadens it into an open world, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice makes it more of a katana-heavy action game. There’s not a lot of role-playing elements here with character creation and leveling a set of attributes. Instead, Sekiro focuses on the use of the titular character’s katana to break enemies’ balance, deflect their attacks, and open them up for a killing blow. With the inclusion of some truly fun tools attached to Sekrio’s prosthetic arm, such as the grappling hook, a metal umbrella-shield, and a literal flame-thrower, and you’ve got a Soulslike that plays quite differently than the rest of FromSoftware’s catalog.
What remains the same? Other than Sekiro sometimes being able revive after defeat, you still collect ‘souls’ in the form of skill points that you can spend in certain skill trees and sometimes lose progress toward the next skill point upon death. You’ll also explore a vast world filled with awesome foes in an equal parts mythologically and historically inspired Japan.
Lords of the Fallen
With the FromSoftware games out of the way, the most recent and high profile Soulslike release is Lords of the Fallen. A reimagining of a 2014 game of the same name, Lords of the Fallen borrows a lot from the original Dark Souls, to the point that from movement and visuals alone, you’d think you were once again adventuring through Lordran. In actuality, Lords of the Fallen takes place in Mournstead and adds a few unique twists to the formula. Chief among them is the Umbral mechanic, which, when your fully customizable character dies, you enter an alternate Umbral realm that mirrors the real one, revealing new enemies, secrets, and items to discover.
Because of the Umbral mechanic, Lords of the Fallen takes exploration to another level, and with a handful of updates post-launch, it has become one of the better shameless Dark Souls copycats out there – even if the enemy density is still a little too high.
Lies of P
While Bloodborne isn’t on PC (yet – I pray to the Great Ones every evening for a 4K remaster), Lies of P isn’t a half bad substitute. The ‘P’ in Lies of P stands for – of all things – Pinocchio. Yes, developers Neowitz Games and Round8 Studio went ahead and made a Soulslike that stars Geppetto’s puppet. It has a similar Victorian Gothic aesthetic as Bloodborne, and draws more than a few other aesthetic and gameplay choices from the likes of Sekiro and Dark Souls. However, it places a heavier emphasis on animatronic enemies than the fantastical or the nightmarish.
Where Lies of P truly shines is within its narrative. No one asked for a Bloodborne-esque Pinocchio story, but Lies of P delivers a tale well worth seeing through, complete with multiple endings. For a genre known for obtuse lore rather than an actual plot, Lies of P stands out as one of the better Soulslikes in recent years.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
If you’ve played Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and can’t get enough of the Japan-inspired setting, Wo Long’s Han Dynasty China will definitely scratch a similar itch. Developed by Team Ninja, known for, among other things, the Soulslike series Nioh and Ninja Gaiden, few games match Wo Long in terms of tight, face-paced combat. Wo Long also ditches the connected world typical of the genre in favor of separate story-heavy missions that can be replayed for better loot, making it a great choice for those that like to grind swords with higher numbers attached to them. It has a great feeling of progression – returning to earlier levels to clear out difficult enemies or find a hidden item shows just how powerful your avatar has become.
That said, it follows a lot of other staples of the genre: failure is key to progression, and Genuine Qi serves as its version of ‘soul’ currency. Team Ninja has also put out a handful of great expansions that make it a great choice for those that like their games lengthy.
While we’re all still eternally waiting for the sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, those that haven’t played the original should definitely jump on one of the greatest indie games ever made. Equal parts atmospheric and challenging, you assume the role of the Knight as he descends into the Kingdom of Hallownest that lies beneath the village of Dirtmouth. A 2D game rather than 3D, Hollow Knight pulls more mechanics from Metroidvanias than it does Soulslikes: to progress through the dense world map, you have to explore thoroughly to find new abilities that allow you to reach new areas.
However, it adopts the main feature of a Soulslike: challenging combat and souls to accrue from defeating enemies in order to level up and purchase items that are lost upon defeat. Hollow Knight also follows in FromSoftware’s footsteps with obscure, intriguing lore you have to piece together yourself and a cast of reticent NPCs to meet, making it a Soulslike in more than spirit.
Like Hollow Knight, Blasphemous 2 (and its prequel) trades the typical Soulslike perspective of a third-person action RPG for a 2D platforming adventure, this time of the gorgeously animated pixel variety. It does, however, keep the nightmarish fantasy atmosphere of the original FromSoftware games, though with a little bit more grotesque religious iconography. While the first Blasphemous focused primarily on combat, the sequel puts much more emphasis on puzzles this time around, facilitated by new weapons, making for a much less repetitive adventure.
Perhaps the least Soulslike game on this list, it still borrows plenty of mechanics from the genre, including a limited-use healing item that refills at the cost of all enemies respawning, challenging bosses that gatekeep the adventure, and sparse storytelling that takes a little bit of player effort to work out.
Ashen is likely the least well-known and most underrated Soulslike on this list. It’s also one of the most unique with its muted cel-shaded graphics. Borrowing gameplay heavily from Dark Souls, it adopts the passive multiplayer wherein other players will show up in your world as an NPC to cooperate with if you play online. It’s a pretty cool mechanic that makes Ashen’s pseudo-open world more manageable and fun to explore. And much like other Soulslikes, that world is filled with a dark (quite literally as Ashen’s world had no sun for a while) lore to unravel as you play.
Otherwise, everything you’d expect from a typical Soulslike is here: third-person action RPG combat, light RPG mechanics to improve your character, and better weapons and gear to find as you delve into more dangerous areas, defeating bosses along the way.
Want a little bit more shooting in your Soulslike? While plenty of them feature bows and other ranged weaponry, Remnant 2 is a full on third-person shooter heavily inspired by Soulslikes. Furthermore, it’s a massive improvement upon the original Remnant in just about every way – smoother combat and better bosses, deeper build development, and several distinct worlds to explore. The hallmark of Remnant 2 is its procedurally generated levels which allow for an incredible amount of replayability.
It might not have the same staggering difficulty as other Soulslikes – and whether you see that as a positive or negative is up to you – but Remnant 2 is definitely a unique and worthy entry into the genre.
And there you have it – the best Soulslike games you can play on your PC in 2023. As proven by recent releases like Remnant 2, Lies of P, and Lords of the Fallen, the genre isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Expect both FromSoftware and other developers to continue iterating upon the base mechanics in typical third-person action RPGs and other genres besides.
When you do pick up a new Soulslike, be sure to check out our guides, such as the best builds in Lords of the Fallen or Elden Ring. And if you want more information about the above games, read our reviews – like our Remnant 2 review, which discusses our adoration of the Lovecraftian world building.