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Can games be “Soulslike” with just the combat, and not necessarily the difficulty?

Gamingtodaynews1b - Can games be "Soulslike" with just the combat, and not necessarily the difficulty?
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The rhetorical answer is yes, but what Im trying to get at is, more often then none, when a new game is announced it is immediately classified to whatever it most popularly resembles or pays homage to (as most games are). The thing is, lately, it seems like this bottlenecks the game, and while we dont have an exact peer in the minds of the devs or those behind the scenes working on these actual titles, I feel like these initial impressions and feedback from the debut trailers still greatly impact the games. Particularly, in this case, when a game is called "Soulslike".

A game is called as such namely for 2 reasons (technically 3), but only needs 1 when it comes to debut of an announcement trailer. Those 3 reasons are the difficulty, aesthetic, and the one that applies to initial trailers, the gameplay. If a game has that 3D, 3rd person gothic aesthetic, it is often called soulslike, althought this is usually flimsy and doesnt apply to everything as strongly as the other two. When it comes down to it, the gameplay initially shown off is what draws the comparison and this has happened to many games and some that dont meet that aesthetic reason, like Code Vein. The gameplay was what drew the "anime souls" comparison, and new games such as Thymesia are already drawing those comparison for what theyve shown off purely on gameplay showcased alone. While some of the soulslike games have directly stated that it is to pay homage, or inspired by the franchise, not all have, yet they still frequently draw that attachment for one reason or another.

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However, I think (and the main reason for me making this post) this can be a detriment to the games core. Not that its bad to compare the two or anything like that, but it alienates all possibilities for what the game could be. Every game compared to soulslike when only gameplay is shown is often asked the followup question whether it be on the Youtube video comments sections, Steam page, its personal subreddit, Twitter, etc. is it hard/difficult? And more times I see people expecting it to be, which potentially influences the devs to make it as such to appease those most vocal. I dont think that needs to be the case though. Soulslike does have its own special place, but personally, I dont think every soulslike game NEEDS to be challenging. Personally, I just love the feel of the combat, and it would be kind of nice to have that combat in a game without all the measured pacing of the slow tactical combat. But now it seems to have gone hand in hand, where you are expecting to have one, if you have another. Similar to how most games are expecting to have some level of progression, or if you are an RPG you must have crafting, or if you are a survival, you must have procedurally generated maps.

I would argue that not every game that is "soulslike" needs be difficult. In fact, it would be nice to have one that isnt. Sometimes I just enjoy the combat without all the deaths because I made one or two misjudged mistakes. Its a thought that is skewing games and driving them all down the same path despite all games not necessarily needing it. I would even say some games share the same combat style, but have avoided it. I would arguably say that the Monster Hunter series (and yes I know it existed before Souls) shares the same style of combat, but doesnt bend to the same rules of difficulty, rather it is challenging for its own reasons in its own rules.

What Im ultimately saying is that, it wouldnt hurt some games to break the mold of the "soulslike" criteria because Souls holds a special place and doesnt need to be oversaturated in placed in everything. I would love to play a souls style game for the combat without the challenge sometimes, but its becoming of situation of have it or dont. Everything has a place, and not everything can fit everywhere nor does it need to be shoehorned into everything of the same ilk.

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