The Dark Souls Franchise started out as a cult following, starting from humble beginnings as a game that is masterfully difficult and has grown all the way to a mainstream following. Because of this its become a bit more like a joke and an unfair comparison for a lot of new games that come out today and for the new Dark Souls 1 Remaster coming out soon I thought I would rank them all from best to worst. I would like to say I am a fan of the series and have played all of the games so its fully based on my own experience in the games. In this list I am going to be mixing games and their original editions(e.g. Dark Souls 2 and scholar of the first sin) as they were the same game but slightly tweaked for the better or worse.
1.Dark souls 2:scholar of the first sin/dark souls 2 original
Dark Souls 2 was a great release and follow up to the original dark souls but it felt like it was lacking and the developers agreed, so they remade parts of the game and added more to it so it would only be better. The original release of the second installment in the game was still a lot of fun to me and i beat it all the way through, it just felt at times to be overly cheap which its scholar of the first sin edition took note of and changed up so it felt more fair when you did die. it was the first game in the series to add in skill reallocation so you could try out different weapons and different builds if you used an item to give it a try so you could change from a heavily melee fighter with a large great sword to a mage without any issue. This really enhanced the replay-ability and made it a lot less grindy to constantly start new games with different characters who have their own builds leaving a lot of unwanted maintenance. Out of the 2 versions I would recommend Scholar of the First Sin it comes with more balancing and more overall content. Another small detail I enjoyed was the varied environments and the overall lighter tone in the game where there was more hope than the other games that made you feel more like a hero.
2.Dark souls/ Dark Souls-Prepare to Die Edition
Its an easy given that the first game in the series that made it popular would be high on the list because it did so much right.
It challenged the players and made them think on their feet with every new obstacle.
There was a great cast of characters and the ability to move around and go to whatever part of the game you wanted to, even if you weren’t the right level for it just to learn from your mistakes. It also felt a lot like every death for the most part was because you made a mistake and not the game being cheap but it did have its own aging problems with the combat not being as smooth as it could.
3. Dark Souls 3
The last installment in the series and it felt like it was more meant as a sort of fan service to the fans who played the game but also as a beacon for new players to push it into the mainstream which unfortunately is its downfall. The whole game felt a lot easier than previous installments. Its worst feature was having a very important stat for more aggressive and tank-y players become useless and just straight up not work making some builds statistically better than others and trying out some builds worthless instead of fun.
4. Demons souls
Its the grand master that started it all, the game has one of my favorite bosses of the whole series in it and brought in stables that would last throughout many games.
It also has one of my favorite boss battles from the whole series, The Tower Knight. The only downside of this series that is very easy to see is its gameplay is very dated and clunky which makes it hard to go back and play for a lot of the areas and bosses. It is however one of the most brutal of the titles.
This is not an “official” souls game but a lot of fans consider it to be a part of it. As a fan it was clearly different gameplay-wise and honestly disappointing which to this day i still hate to say because it had one of the coolest concepts for weapons and fighting in the series. all of the melee weapons were able to turn into a second type of weapon so it had 2 sort of “modes” for different fight styles which sounds awesome on paper, but the game wasn’t built well around it as they took out a lot of basic things the series had given us and made it a game full of grinding for levels and items(which are NEEDED to survive) and a lackluster environment. The enemies’ designs aren’t half bad as it was heavily based on H.P. Lovecraft’s works.