Soulslike games come in all styles, genres, and sizes. There are the most “mainstream” AAA titles such as FromSoftware titles Dark souls, Bloodborne, and Souls of the demon. You also have indie games like Hollow knight and Deadly shell. That said, each Souslike follows a similar pattern and will take you on a journey of triumphant highs and heartbreaking lows.
If you’ve played a Soulslike game, you’ve been inundated with the genre’s difficulty curve. Likewise, Soulslike’s gameplay loop of progressing through progression by slowly becoming more comfortable with combat is another mountain to climb.
We have compiled a high level Soulslike guide that should cover most of the games in the genre. You can use these tips as rough guidelines for your next outing in a Souslike game.
Learn the attack patterns of enemies
This is one of the quintessential tips from our Soulslike guide, or any Souslike guide. Whether it’s a small growl-type enemy or a boss, learn every move they have. This is usually not an easy task as it requires a little patience. That said, the difficulty of a Soulslike game decreases once you learn the ins and outs of an enemy.
For non-boss enemies, your best bet is to take a defensive approach the first time you engage them. Take the time to understand their weapon set, range, and how quickly they react to a block or parry.
For the bosses, it requires a lot more resources. You can take a similar approach at first, but note that a lot of bosses go into a second or third phase. This can sometimes change their form, their aggro level and even their moveset.
However long it may take to learn enemy blueprints, it will pay off. Once you feel confident about engaging enemies, playing the game would be easier and a lot more satisfying.
Manage your health, stamina and magic
A common element to many Soulslike games is the importance of managing your various counters. Health, stamina, and magic all play a big role in whether you live or die the next time you meet.
Keeping your eyes on your character and your enemy will only result in defeat. No matter how these counters are displayed or where they are on the screen, manage them accordingly. The last thing you want is to be down on health right before an enemy launches. There’s nothing worse than having to roll away from an attack and realize you’ve exhausted your stamina.
Use bonfires and checkpoints
Often times in Soulslike games a bonfire or other equivalent signals a safe area used to rest for a checkpoint. These don’t come too often, so use all of them. This can sometimes be the place where you can quickly travel to other places, level up, or take a break.
However, be aware that each use of a bonfire comes at a cost. Traditionally, using a bonfire will reset the map and cause enemies surrounding the area to reappear. It plays into the deeper risk-reward system for which these types of games are known. Often times you will find bonfires replenishing healing items. However, it does mean that any enemies you have defeated will stand in your way again.
There is no inherent right or wrong approach to using bonfires. Instead, it is recommended that you use them as often as you feel the need to. Don’t take these shelters for granted.
Constantly upgrade your character and weapons
No matter what souls you play, you will likely come across “souls” or some other type of currency collected by defeating enemies. These are often your main axes of leveling your character. Investing in these hard-earned souls will allow you to improve your stats and prepare for the challenges at hand. Since many Soulslikes are treated like RPGs, these in-game currencies are a valuable commodity.
The same goes for upgrading weapons. In some games, for example, Souls of the demon, you will need souls and resources found all over the world. Whatever currency your games are in, don’t store it.
Shortcuts are a staple of many Soulslike games. The distance between each bonfire or checkpoint can be exhausting as you continually face an attack from enemies after each death. However, this path can be reduced with a convenient shortcut.
Usually these can be found quite late in a given area. However, once you’ve figured out how to use an elevator or open that once-locked door, the race to the next boss can be more streamlined. If you watch a game like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or Souls of the demon, shortcuts can be found in less suspicious areas.
Invest time in tradition
We’ve included it in our Soulslike guide not so much to improve your odds for success, but to make sure you don’t miss out on the best part of these games – the stories. It is a common element in this specific subgenre that the narrative and the lore of the world are not handed to you on a platter. Instead, you need to actively seek out the context.
As you walk through a given Soulslike, take the odd moment to really invest in the scenery and identify and tell visual clues. Item descriptions can also provide a ton of backstory to the characters and myths in the game. Although NPCs often speak vaguely, you can use this dialogue to piece together the lore. There are so many contextual clues hovered over in the game and it is definitely worth investigating.
And to top it off, some bits of knowledge will contain information that is not easily given through clues or descriptions.
Interact with the community
The “git gud” crowd can create the perception that there is a wall between newcomers and traditionally difficult gaming communities; I believe this is not true. Throughout my experience playing many Soulslike games the online community has been incredibly helpful.
Social media, forum sites, and Discord groups can all provide amazing advice that goes way beyond the more generalized one found in guides. If you’re looking for ways to improve a specific build or find out about the best farming locations, the online community is a treasure trove of support.
The Soulsborne community is more often than not very encouraging and will engage with each other in incredible ways and guide new players through the worst phases of the Soulslike learning curve. If there’s a particular Soulslike game you’ve been eyeing, it’s always worth investigating its respective subdirectory.
We hope our Soulslike Universal Guide can help you with the next game you decide to tackle. Stay tuned to SQUAD for more in-game content!