Dark Souls spawned a slew of mobile titles inspired by FromSoftware famously punishing action RPG, known as Souls-likes. Imitating the dark and dour tone and satisfyingly impactful combat of the Souls series is no simple feat, especially with a smaller budget and team, but there have been marked successes available on the best Android phones, making for some of the best Android games around. And since AP loves a challenge, we've gathered our favorite Souls-like mobile games so that everyone can join in on the fun.
1 Dead Cells
Presenting an influential model for Souls-likes on the Play Store, Dead Cells is a 2D, procedurally generated action platformer in which you play as a warrior exploring a dungeon. Well, technically, you're a corpse reanimated by a failed science experiment, but that's neither here nor there. Gameplay-wise, you get 2D platforming interspersed with fluid hack-and-slash combat. Exploration is rewarded with money and new weapons for fending off fearsome enemies. The game styles itself as "roguevania," with the exploration of a map being integral but occurring within a procedurally generated layout that changes upon death. If you're a sucker for procedurally generated runs and punishing difficulty, Dead Cells is highly recommended.
2 Animus: Revenant
Certainly an ambitious title, Animus: Revenant places you in an isometric 3D world on a linear adventure to save the world. The Dark Souls influence is felt almost immediately with the introduction of the combat, which serves its purpose well, encouraging a multitude of battle approaches such as parrying, backstabs, blocking, and attacking with different weapons. The game is not a hack-and-slash, and that is made very clear by the slow movement and disarming camera angle. The combat is centered around slow and methodical attacks, no running straight through this one. Graphically, the game isn't stunning, but lower resolution can result in a superior frame rate. This is something that the original Dark Souls actually did. Just make sure you bring a beefy device; this is a demanding game.
3 Ronin: the last Samurai
Our first Samurai-themed entry, Ronin: the last Samurai places you in control of a katana-wielding warrior facing down multiple foes in level-based waves. The combat feels very Sekiro-inspired, with much emphasis placed on the aggressive yet cautious approach to fighting. Said combat uses touch controls to strike, block, parry, and activate special attacks, all of which respond very well and look gorgeous alongside the game's art style. The movement mechanics aren't great; your character moves extremely slowly around the arena, giving archers plenty of time for target practice. A simple game, but still a great time for fans of Nioh and Sekiro.
4 Pascal's Wager
A standout game on the Play Store, Pascal's Wager is a bonafide Soul's like on the Android platform, with everything you would expect from such a product. Taking place in a dark western fantasy setting, the adorably named "Terrance" embarks on a quest through the hostile environment, acquiring items, talking to NPC, and killing everything that tries to kill you. The interface is well-designed, with a smattering of action-dedicated buttons and a control stick for movement. Give it a shot; this one offers something special.
5 Shadow of Death: Offline Games
One of the better examples of a 2D hack-and-slash, Shadow of Death puts you in control of one of four warriors in a silhouetted world full of hostile creatures hellbent on killing you. Each avatar offers different abilities and playstyles, reminiscent of the build concept from the Souls series. Combat against creatively designed enemies comes in wave-based levels, predictably fast-paced and stylish, with new abilities and usable items being unlocked as you play. There is a noticeable lack of exploration, but this is likely a limitation of the art style. Any exploration of the silhouette environments would be visually confusing, after all. While it's not going to win any awards for art design, the combat in Shadow of Death is stylish to behold and satisfying to control, scratching that Devil May Cry itch as well as a Souls-like.
6 Way of Retribution
This is an interesting one, Way of Retribution takes the format of a 3D Souls-like, placing you into areas full of enemies with a boss to kill, but translates that to an MMORPG-style game, aesthetically evoking Neverwinter. Multiple starting classes can be selected at the beginning, all of which have different specializations for combat. Said combat works as expected, you lock onto enemies and tap the icons for certain attacks. The big difference with this game is you can't just face the boss whenever you want; you must first complete several objectives within the level, imitating the quest linearity seen in the best MMORPG's. A strange kind of Souls-like, but certainly a unique blending of ideas that makes for an interesting experience. It's a quick download, so take a look.
7 Watcher Chronicles
Watcher Chronicles wastes no time establishing itself as a 2D Souls-like, spawning you in a dungeon with a sword and the armor on your back. The gameplay is similar to Blasphemous, only with a cleaner art style and less harrowing visual design. The combat is smooth, allowing for dodge rolling, blocking, and ranged combat to help you out in a jam. While the cartoony art style can be a little unflattering here and there, it very quickly ramps up and reveals some truly exceptional enemy design, so Watcher Chronicles nails the fundamentals. The difficulty is well-balanced, the weapons feel satisfying, the bosses are cool, and the game actively encourages you to experiment with different play styles, as the best RPGs do.
Oddly similar to the previous entry, Grimvalor is a 2D Souls-like hack-and-slash with a focus on platforming and evasive combat. One big difference is Grimvalor pulls the camera way back, providing increased visibility of your surroundings, which is good news given the focus on precision platforming. You are given a double jump and a weirdly powerful dash for level traversal, which flows nicely with the combat. Enemies telegraph their attacks fairly obviously, but not so much as to make things easy. The difficulty has a reasonable curve, with the basics being thoroughly tutorialized and hammered in before any kind of real challenge reveals itself. While aggressively linear and visually drab at times, Grimvalor plays nicely and makes you feel appropriately badass.
Never give up, even the toughest Souls-like can be beaten!
Thus ends our roundup of games inspired by the Souls series. Hopefully, something here caught your eye and put you in the mood for some fantastic Metroidvania games. There's no shortage of these titles on the Play Store right now, so feel free to throw some recommendations our way for the next update. Want to enjoy fast-paced, real-time combat the old-fashioned way? Don't sleep on these game-changing Android controllers. Take care, explore and test your mettle. And try not to die.