What Game Designers Like and Dislike About Souls Games

Kotaku UK has picked the brains of a few game designers about From Software's "Souls" titles, the type of fantasy action-RPGs that they have been working on since the release of Demon's Souls, and learned what they like and don't like of them in the process. Here's a point where the interviewed designers seem to agree with the positive discourse surrounding the titles:

You Can Miss Huge Chunks Of The Game

Ghost Song developer Matt White talks about what he calls The Ash Lake Moment. (I was exploring the ground level of Blighttown (and getting there was quite a hellish time, being my first playthrough and my first Souls game) and ended up exploring a hollowed out tree off in the corner. Inside is a chest. Behind the chest was a hidden wall, which lead down a vast hollowed out tree that just kept going deeper and deeper. Eventually leading to Ash Lake.

(Discoveries like this are not possible in most games,) he continues. (Most games make sure you see all of their worthwhile content.)

(To make a world seem alive and gripping you have to have the possibility that the player may miss things, big and small,) says Night In The Woods' Benson. (So many games desperately want you to see everything in them, and that's fine, but I feel it does a disservice to the experience of exploring a world. The Souls games will let you walk past half of the world, or wander into the darkest places with little warning. That's a world that feels alive. You can miss so much and that means that finding something be it a clue about the world, the odd NPC off doing their own thing, a strange little area means something. It's beautiful.)

And something that ended up irking a few of them:

Everyone's (Supposed) To Like Them

(There's this huge feedback loop where everyone is '˜supposed' to like this series,) says Necrosoft's Sheffield, (so they find reasons to. I get so many people on Twitter telling me '˜you'd like this game,' even though it's really not my thing! I'm supposed to like it because the zeitgeist says so!)

(I dislike how constantly and consistently a new Souls game dominates all conversation for months after it comes out,) says Tanya Short, a design lead at Kitfox Games currently working on Moon Hunters. (On Twitter I can just kinda ignore it, but in person, at lunch, at social occasions... it doesn't stop! Most of my colleagues don't find the time to play any other games, or if they do, their heart just isn't in it in the same way. As soon as you start talking about level design, game design, system design, marketing designers are just obsessed! [Souls games are] definitely over-represented as an influence, in my opinion, even adjusting for general popularity or quality.)