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Waiting for Elden Ring DLC? You’ll love these great 2D games

soulslike video games

Elden Ring players looking for something else to do might be surprised to hear that there are several 2D games that provide a similarly satisfying and brutal experience.

With Shadow of the Erdtree still a long way off, players who’ve beaten Elden Ring might want a fresh challenge in the meantime. Thankfully, there’s an entire genre of games similar to Elden Ring. Though many of these “Soulslike” games are 3D like Elden Ring, there are plenty of great 2D options to choose from that can be played on any modern PC and many modern consoles.

Players shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that just because a game has one fewer dimension to work with that it’ll be easier. These are some of the best 2D games with similar themes and gameplay to Elden Ring.

Suffer through a gothic dystopia in Blasphemous 2

Blasphemous by The Game Kitchen is a brutally challenging side-scroller inspired by the Spanish Inquisition and its sequel is that and more.

In Blasphemous, the player takes on the role of The Penitent One. This mysterious figure is resurrected by a higher power and tasked with the destruction of a tyrannical champion.

The lore in Blasphemous is dense and stresses that suffering is a virtue. The game has that play out in practice as well, making the player suffer through one brutal challenge after another. These include tricky enemies, tight platforming, and devastatingly powerful bosses. With Blasphemous 2 set to release just next week on August 24, it’s a great time for players to take the original out for a spin.

Overcome death itself in Salt and Sanctuary, then Salt and Sacrifice

Salt and Sanctuary and its sequel Salt and Sacrifice cast the player as an undead champion on a cursed quest.

In Salt and Sanctuary, the player embodies the Saltborn, a drowned soul who washes ashore on a strange island. In Salt and Sacrifice, the player is a Marked Inquisitor, a convicted criminal sentenced to hunt powerful mages with the aid of cursed immortality. 

The games share many themes with FromSoftware titles like Elden Ring and Dark Souls, though Salt and Sanctuary bears the closer resemblance. 2022’s Salt and Sacrifice diverges from these roots and pits the player against extremely challenging “bullet hell” encounters with monstrous magi. Elden Ring players looking for a bit of a break might enjoy the slower pace of Salt and Sanctuary, while those looking for the next big challenge should love Salt and Sacrifice.

Elden Ring meets Kirby in Metroidvania game Grime

Grime is a brooding, punishing side-scroller with a unique parry mechanic.

While the visuals are technically 3D, the movement and control scheme in Grime is akin to Castlevania. In Grime, players control a humanoid being with a black hole for a head in a world of animated rock people. The game’s combat should feel familiar and satisfying for Elden Ring fans. Those who’ve played Bloodborne will also appreciate the transforming weapons that are built into the combo system.

The most unique feature of Grime is its parry mechanic, which works like a hybrid of Kirby and Dark Souls. Instead of just parrying an attack, the player absorbs the enemy into the black hole in their head. Doing this grants unique upgrade points based on what kind of enemies the player absorbs. In short, Elden Ring fans looking for a game that offers a unique twist on the familiar formula should check out Grime.

Endure the ultimate no-hit challenge in Titan Souls

Titan Souls by Acid Nerve is a top-down 2D game where the player dies in one hit and wields a bow with only one arrow.

Most fans of FromSoftware games are likely familiar with the concept of a challenge run, either from watching streams or trying one themselves. The ultimate challenge is widely considered to be the “no-hit” run, where the player must complete the game without ever being hit once.

In most games, the no-hit run is a unique way to play a game. In Titan Souls, the no-hit run is the game.

Players must defeat powerful bosses but will die if they’re ever touched. The bosses will also die in a single hit but must be hit in the right way at the right time for it to work. If the player misses, they will have to retrieve their single arrow and try again, all while being inches from death at every moment. Elden Ring players searching for a challenge need look no further than this gem of an indie game.

hollow knight logo

Elden Ring fans can search for meaning in a ruined kingdom in smash-hit indie game Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight by Team Cherry is a hand-drawn Metroidvania with Soulslike elements.

In Hollow Knight, the player controls a near-anonymous Knight character in a world populated by self-aware bugs. The kingdom of Hallownest is being overtaken by a mysterious infection and it’s up to the Knight to find a cure.

Elden Ring fans will find plenty to fall in love with in this modern classic. The emphasis on exploration, nihilistic atmosphere, epic boss battles, and scramble to recover lost resources on death are all present and accounted for. With Hollow Knight sequel Silksong in the works, it’s a great time for new players to pick up the game.

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Written by Jorie McKibbin

Jorie has been playing video games and writing creatively since they were old enough to hold a controller and a pen. They’re passionate about the indie gaming scene, and some of their favorites include Salt and Sanctuary, Stardew Valley, Hollow Knight, and Vintage Story. They also adore such classics as The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, Fallout: New Vegas, and Dark Souls.

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