With the release of Team Ninja’s Nioh merely weeks away, I have noticed a worrying trend developing within the stinking, festering quagmires that masquerade as gaming forums and comment sections across the internet. It’s a trend that has echoed around the bowels of the gaming community for many years now, but with the upcoming release of Nioh, it has finally gained the momentum to fully manifest itself within the popular consciousness of the gaming community. The trend in question? The outright denial of the burgeoning development of a brand-new genre – the Soulslike.
It’s no surprise to anyone blessed with the gift of sight that Nioh bears a remarkable resemblance to From Software’s Dark Souls. Everything from the meticulously intricate and complex combat to the unforgiving enemy encounters resonate that undeniable Dark Souls feel. However, many commenters across the globe have felt the need to haphazardly condemn Nioh for these striking similarities. In fact, it has gotten to the point where they are spewing forth violent rhetoric, damning the game purely due to the fact that it apes the all-conquering formula of Dark Souls.
served across the gaming community as of late: the condemnation of inspiration and mimicry. Dark Souls was successful because it was unlike anything else on the market at the time. Its unique mix of player-driven discovery and mind-numbing difficulty enraptured the minds and hearts of many a gamer. As such, it is entirely reasonable to expect other development and publishing studios to cotton on to this success in the hopes of bottling some Dark Souls’ money-making lightening. Over the last couple of years, we have seen numerous Soulslike games: Salt and Sanctuary, Lords of the Fallen, Death’s Gambit, and now, Nioh. Yet rather than wholeheartedly embrace these intriguing titles, the community at large instead appears to be shunning them, screaming from the rooftops that they are infecting the golden legacy ushered forth by From Software and the Souls series.
I’m unsure as to exactly why these sentiments have manifested around Dark Souls specifically, as there are countless instances of games across the spectrum of gaming that have copied, or been influenced by other titles. Take the original Call of Duty for example. That game was heavily influenced by the likes of Medal of Honor. Or how about Rayman? It is not just Mario masquerading as a limbless humanoid in a hoodie? Games, like all other artistic art forms, take inspiration from other works – be it subtly or glaringly obvious. It is an approach that has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years, one that is essential for the continued growth and development of each and even artistic entertainment medium. And as we all know, imitation is the highest form of flattery.
All these Nioh naysayers should take a long hard look at the past. The mimicking of Dark Souls isn’t an affront, but rather the first, tentative steps of something great and beautiful. For, ladies and gentlemen, we are observing the birth of a brand-new genre – the Soulslike. Much in the same vein as the Rougelike, this new genre stems from one inception point, Dark Souls, and it is impossible to deny or even ignore this new, rapidly developing category of gaming. Innovation may be somewhat lacking in the genre right now, but that is only to be expected given its infancy. Given a decade or so and I am in no doubt that the Soulslike will blossom into something truly spectacular, rife with revolution and ground-breaking concepts. It’ll just take time. Something very few people have.