There’s been talk now and then about Dark Souls potentially having spawned a new genre but I don’t think that’s accurate. I think it refined and elevated an existing one. People have thrown out the comparison of Doom and Doom-clones, but I think Dark Souls is more analogous to Call of Duty. It twisted a genre in a new direction and everyone chased after it.
Most Action RPG doesn’t follow that formula. As much as I hate to admit it, Souls-like game has a base that is easy to spot. I can’t think of one where it is very much up for debate.
We could say the same thing about Monster Hunter like, they’re niches in the encompassing genre of ARPG
What are “most” Action RPGs these days though? There’s Monster Hunter and there’s Dark Souls kinda stuff. I guess there’s Dragon’s Dogma in the middle, but even then people just said it’s like Dark Souls. Monster Hunter is niche enough (for the moment, hopefully it takes off with the PS4 version) that I don’t think anyone is gonna default to thinking of Monster Hunter when they hear action RPG.
By that same logic you could call musou games and MonHun clones action RPGs as well. What purpose does it serve to lump them all together under the same banner? Better to be more specific than more generic.
Final Fantasy, Kingdom hearts,Tales of, Ys, you could make the case for Darksiders too
And I feel MH like are much more popular, esp. in Japan considering they’re much affordable to produce I feel : Peace Walker, Soul Sacrifice, God Eater, many more I forgot
I always thought of them as action adventure because Demon’s Souls/etc. sprung forth from King’s Field. People act like “Dark Souls” is its own genre but when you go outside of FromSoftware there’s what, Nioh, Bound by Flame, maybe two or three other games that are similar at all? And given how FromSoftware’s prior games work “you go back to the last save spot when you die and can eventually teleport around from point to point” isn’t a huge shift in the game.
As there are at least 30 million new copies of Diablo III from the last few years in the system, I feel like trying to say ARPG means anything other than a very broad umbrella genre category isn’t actually going to get you anywhere. Certainly saying it now means games like DSouls… does not seem to match up with the popularity of various strands of the current Action RPGs landscape.
Are there even (over 4 DSouls games and Bloodborne, sold between 2009 and 2017) half as many copies of the various main games that drive this subgenre out there as there are copies of just Diablo 3 (2012 to 2017)? What about all the F2P and other ARPGs that are like Diablo? Surely they’re at least as numerous as the spins on a DSouls game?
No, because the actual defining features of a Souls-like have very little to do with the defining features of an ARPG, even if there’s some overlap in the mechanics.
You could make a first person shooter souls-like with no progression or levelling system. What part of it is an ARPG at that point?
Maybe I sorta said things backwards here. I’m not so much trying to reclassify ARPG to mean Dark Souls. I’m coming at the angle of trying to come up with a conversational description of a game that’s less boring than just saying “it’s like Dark Souls.” If I were talking about something like Nioh and called it a “3rd person Action RPG” how well do you think you would understand what that game is?
Not at all because I’d assume you were talking about a behind-the-shoulder Diablo game or some sort of combo driven action adventure with RPG elements (hack and slash).
We need a term for games like DSouls, that term can’t be one we already use for games because this is a new subgenre so it needs a new name.
People seem to take isssue with saying something is similar to something else when trying to describe it, but phrases like Souls-like or metroidvania are quick ways to help someone visualize a game. It may often be a bit reductive, but genres in general are a lot of the time.
I guess I had sort of a blind spot here since I’ve never been into Diablo. I was just playing console games in its heyday, and even more recently when I had a PC that could run them I’ve never enjoyed them. Any game where you click a mouse to move your dude and are also under time pressure is just not my cup of tea. So if I heard the words Action RPG I would think of older console games. Threads of Fate and Dark Cloud come to mind. I still feel like there’s a line to be followed from those games on toward Dark Souls, but if action RPG conjures up Diablo for you then there’s a lot less there.
I think the “need” for more specific genre names for everything is overstated. Genre designations exist for marketing. Any two of those umbrella terms like “action,” “RPG,” “adventure,” “strategy,” whatever describe the basic gist of a game just fine, and while “it’s like Dark Souls” or “Metroidvania” might be annoying to some - I don’t use them in anything I write personally - they’re perfectly fine shorthand when talking to someone familiar with those games.
I think it’s counterproductive when people will on the one hand want something new and fresh, but on the other hand as soon as something is different in some way it has to become a codified genre and that games “need” to fall into.
I feel a little weird calling Dark Souls, Nioh, and even Monster Hunter Action RPGs because I always associated ARPGs with hack n slash combat. Newer examples being Diablo, Kingdom Hearts, or Secret of Mana and Illusion of Gaia if you wanna go further back. I guess the term Action RPG arose out of separating these games from traditional turn-based RPGs, because those who may find turn-based games boring could maybe get into ARPGs.
There’s something about the methodical and plodding nature of the Souls games or even Monster Hunter that feels different from ARPGs. It’s not about hacking away aimlessly at opponents. Dark Souls is about strafing around your enemies, studying their movements, and then striking when you see an opening. Those other, more traditional ARPGs don’t require the same focus and dexterity that you need to get into Souls-like games. I could definitely see them being a sub genre of the sub genre Action RPG built for a new generation, but I guess I’m just so used to ARPG meaning Secret of Mana or Kingdom Hearts that seeing Dark Souls under the same umbrella feels weird.
I think that for sure Dark Souls could be called an action RPG if we’re just looking at like the definitions of the words action and RPG. Though it is the connotations of the phrase action rpg that don’t fit the Dark Souls formula. I recently started playing Monster Hunter Freedom Unite again, and have been trying to get my girlfriend and friends into playing it. I found that comparing it to Dark Souls the best way to do it because I don’t believe there is a word yet for this specific kind of action RPG that’s more technical.
Maybe we could start calling it like Slash n Roll RPGs, or it’s a Dodge n Die kinda game. idk either way Dark Souls in something different and should have a new name for it other can comparing it to Dark Souls.
Punch Out with Swords?
Dark Souls is an example of an Action RPG, but it is not the definition of Action RPG. It would be dumb as hell to replace an existing genre with an emerging sub-genre and honestly irrelevant. It’s pretty clear at this point that “Souls-Like” is becoming its own distinct sub-genre, and that that’s the name of it. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be having these discussions. Why fight it? What does giving it a different name do for your understanding of the games or the genre? We have a genre called Roguelike despite how little most of those games have to do with Rogue, why get worked up about a similar thing just because it’s new? Dehumanise yourself and face to Soulslike.
I think the idea of saying games very obviously inspired by Dark Souls are “like Dark Souls” wouldn’t feel so weird if it wasn’t for that stretch where every marginally hard game to come out was compared to it.
With difficulty in particular, this seems to be a way to cut down “it’s too hard” as a default response. It’s a claim that the difficulty is good actually, even if it’s a struggle to overcome.