From Software, the Japanese developer known for its critically acclaimed Dark Souls franchise, has been making video games for quite a while. Though it was originally a productivity software firm, the company shifted gears when Sony introduced the original PlayStation to the market. Thanks to the success of its first title, King’s Field, From Software established a prolific business model that’s still being adhered to today, despite increased costs of development. For over two decades, the studio has maintained its dedication to crafting the perfect action RPG. To coincide with the upcoming release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, here are the studio’s best titles since 1994.
From Software’s best games | Dark Souls
It’s hard to discuss From Software’s best games without first mentioning Dark Souls. The title was praised by critics when it launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September 2011, and subsequently earned a massive fan following that continues to shout “praise the sun” on online message boards today. Dark Souls‘ combat is difficult but fair, challenging players to explore different avenues for defeating its grueling enemies.
Interesting lore is etched into the game’s environments, inviting users to learn more about the world around them so long as they’re able to survive in between bonfires. Casual video game fans may want to try one of Dark Souls‘ sequels before playing the original, especially if they have yet to experience what the franchise has to offer.
From Software’s best games | Evergrace
Evergrace is the PlayStation 2 equivalent of King’s Field, seeing as how both RPGs were launch titles for their respective Sony-owned platforms. It makes great use of the machine’s DVD format by including voice-over lines for all of the game’s cast and rendering environments in high resolution. Perhaps the title’s most innovative feature is its interchangeable armor system, which allows characters to actually wear their assigned items in battle. It’s a staple that many RPG fans take for granted nowadays.
From Software’s best games | Demon’s Souls
Inspired by From Software’s aforementioned King’s Field series, Demon’s Souls is the title that laid the foundation for Dark Souls and its sequels. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki designed the game’s difficulty around the concept of providing players with a sense of challenge and accomplishment. It’s meant to evoke the nail-biting gameplay often found in classic software and eschews modern accessibility conventions in favor of pitting fans against menacing foes that seem impossible to beat at a glance.
Demon’s Souls is uncompromising in its character, which is what allowed it to find success in the West despite mixed reception in Japan. There’s a lot of reward to be found in the game if players are willing and patient enough to die over and over again.
From Software’s best games | Enchanted Arms
In a similar vein, Enchanted Arms is also unafraid to commit to a unique identity. This turn-based RPG has players fight in six-by-four grids that are divided down the center. Characters are arranged randomly at the start of every battle, with each side containing up to four party members. The outcome of each confrontation is usually determined by how well fans are able to position their team. Every enemy attack has a specific range and pattern that users need to take note of if they hope to claim victory. Enchanted Arms differentiates itself from its peers by incorporating elements that make it feel like a puzzle game the more one plays it.
From Software’s best games | Bloodborne
The H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Bloodborne has fans attempt to find the cause of a mysterious illness plaguing the Gothic city of Yharnam. It bears many similarities to the Dark Souls series, but sets itself apart by focusing its gameplay on fast-paced, aggressive combat. Though there’s a good chance that players will stop to admire Bloodborne‘s impressive Victorian-era design, randomized Chalice Dungeons, side quests, and excellent DLC content in the form of The Old Hunters also ensure they’ll be entertained after the main narrative is over.
PlayStation 4 owners who have yet to experience the craze surrounding the Souls franchise may fall in love with Bloodborne‘s brooding charm, as it’s unlike anything else on the platform at the moment. There’s a good reason why many claim it to be the console’s best exclusive title so far.
From Software’s best games | Lost Kingdoms
Lost Kingdoms borrows elements from Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon to craft a card-based combat system that’s fun to witness in real-time. As a young princess named Katia, players are tasked with using up to 100 cards to help her find the king and expel a black fog that’s enveloped the nation. A standard deck consists of weapon, summon, and independent-type cards, each of which is given elemental distinctions (fire, water, wood, earth, and neutral).
While Katia can buy and sell cards through experience points, she can also capture weakened enemies to add them to her deck. Lost Kingdoms can become addicting once players fully grasp the ins and outs of its mechanics. It’s a nice throwback to when card games like Yu-Gi-Oh! were all the rage.
From Software’s best games | Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 serves as a fitting conclusion to the trilogy that made From Software the celebrated studio it is today. It incorporates elements from other titles in the franchise, yet somehow manages to play better than the sum of its parts. Bloodborne‘s fast-paced combat and Demon’s Souls‘ magic system are noticeable, but Dark Souls 3‘s renewed emphasis on role-playing, particularly its character builder and tactical weapon sophistication, overshadows its reused mechanics. The game feels like a greatest hits collection that’s perfect to play as one gears up for whatever the developer may have in store next.
It remains to be seen whether or not Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be able to sustain From Software’s popularity. If one thing’s for certain, Sekiro won’t have many connections to Dark Souls, as many RPG elements like classes, character customization, and equipment upgrades won’t be appearing. Rather, the game will focus heavily on action and stealth, each of which is reminiscent of From Software’s work on the Otagi series or Ninja Blade.
It’s refreshing to see the developer explore different forms of gameplay in 2019, as it indicates that it has no desire to rest on its laurels anytime soon. Fans will have to wait until March 22 to find out if From Software delivers yet another sensation through Sekiro. Given what’s been showcased so far, it has potential to be the best ninja title on modern consoles.