Despite being a pop culture zeitgeist and beloved franchise, FromSoftware’s Souls titles still hit the same highs and lows as any game series.
The Dark Souls series has existed across three generations of consoles and, along the way, has spawned an entire sub-genre. FromSoftware titles have almost always received critical acclaim, and in fact, none of their games have been received negatively by critics. Even so, there are undoubtedly some differences in how each installment is received over the life of the series. Using average scores from Metacritic and the Internet Games Database, here’s each entry in the Souls series ranked by critics.
The Souls series consists of the titles Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. The game is famous for its brutal boss fights and responsive and precise combat. Over the years, they’ve even inspired a wide selection of titles like Souls that have sprung up and served to develop the genre even further.
7. Dark Souls Remaster (2018) – 85.6/100
Dark Souls Remastered gives players another chance to play one of the most important titles for action RPGs of the last decade. Whether players have played the game and want to relive the title along with its performance improvements or are diving into Dark Souls for the first time, Dark Souls Remastered allows more players to experience the lauded title. Overall, very few changes between the original release and the remastered version. Perhaps Dark Souls Remastered’s greatest strength is keeping the title relevant — even for Nintendo Switch players.
Minor graphics fixes and performance updates help Dark Souls Remastered keep up with newer consoles, but it remains essentially the same game as the previous console generation. This includes many annoying bugs and issues that remain ignored in the remastered version.
6. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (2015) – 86/100
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is an enhanced and complete version of Dark Souls II, complete with DLC offerings, updated visuals, and slight changes to enemy layout and tactics. The title was originally released to coincide with the recently released PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but has also appeared on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. While it serves as the definitive version of Dark Souls II, it doesn’t leave the same lasting impression as the original.
With the release of Bloodborne, some find it difficult to return to the more traditional Dark Souls style of Souls games, Bloodborne’s fast-paced combat adds some nice variation to what became the standard formula. That said, many critics found Scholar of the First Sin a necessity for any player who had never experienced Dark Souls II.
5. Dark Souls III (2016) – 87.1/100
Dark Souls III serves as a worthy sequel to the Dark Souls series, picking up threads from the original Dark Souls and offering closure. Dark Souls III is a fantastic game, but previous entries overshadowed the series. Maybe because those titles provide something far more unique among the industry when genres like Souls are still finding their footing. However, Dark Souls III provided a fitting finale to one of the most revered series of its time.
When stacked with titles that helped create and redefine the sub-genre, being a fantastic game isn’t enough to make it to the top of the list. Dark Souls III contains some of the best combat in the series and perfects its tone delivery, immersing players deep into its ominous world. This feat will please any player who decides to spend some time facing Lords of Cinder.