Though you might not have heard of the series since the recent, massive releases that we’ve seen this year, the “Souls” games developed by FromSoftware have carried a huge fan following for quite a long while. The saga began with Demon’s Souls on the PlayStation 3, and it’s this title that people have been trying to download and play on PC ever since it was released on Sony’s console. In the following guide, we’ll explore the various entries of the Souls games, and see just which of them is playable on your Windows PC. We might even fool around with PlayStation emulators if you stick around long enough, so keep on reading!
The Souls games have quite a starkly contrasting reaction from most people who play them. Fans of the Souls games will be swift to tell you how groundbreaking they are, how old-school. How the narrative is among the most unique experiences that you’ll have in modern gaming, and how persistence and perfection are rewarded with progress.
People who don’t care for the Souls games will speak of their soul-crushing difficult (pun apology #1) and bleak atmosphere. Indeed, these aspects alone have chased away more than a fair share of prospective gamers, but we can’t really count that as a knock against the games themselves.
The Souls series has always known what it is, and what it isn’t. The trademarks and trends that began in Demon’s Souls have carried through in each subsequent entry. The naysayers have kept on naysaying, but the Souls fanbase has grown both in number and fervor. Most recently, Dark Souls III has released on contemporary consoles, and the series creator has said that it will be the final Souls game, thereby allowing the FromSoftware development studio to move on to new ventures.
“I like video games, but they’re really violent. I’d like to play a video game where you help the people who were shot in all the other games. It’d be called ‘Really Busy Hospital.”
― Demetri Martin
Without a doubt, the Souls games have made a splash in gaming culture. Even though peoples’ opinions about them have been divisive, they’re nevertheless considered classics, and will likely result in continuing changes to the way that developers make games–especially pertaining to games’ difficulty.
That divisive has extended to the constantly burning fire of console wars, however. Demon’s Souls launched on the PlayStation 3 and it has remained an exclusive to that console, even as subsequence Souls games have spread to other platforms.
We’ll take a look at each of the games in the Souls series, and identify which platforms that each game is playable on. That way, when you start planning your trip through the Souls series (which you really should do), you’ll know what you need to do in order to be ready!
The Souls Saga
While the games have always differed slightly, all of the entries in the Souls series have been developed by FromSoftware, a Japanese game development studio that’s been in the business since its founding in 1986. FromSoftware rose to popularity with the Armored Core series of games, which featured gigantic, human-piloted “mechs” that players could customize and take into battle.
The Souls games were a stark departure from the company’s previous efforts, and when Demon’s Souls was released on the PlayStation 3, there was nothing else quite like it on the market. While the Armored Core games did receive limited localization and international attention, it was the Souls saga that catapulted FromSoftware into the international spotlight.
Even if some gamers have never cared for the difficulty or gameplay style of Souls games, their critical response has nevertheless been stellar.
The progenitor to the Dark Souls trilogy, and the mold by which all further Souls games would be made. Demon’s Souls was released on the PlayStation 3 in 2009, where it’s still at home on the previous console generation.
It’s important to understand the context under which Demon’s Souls arrived. Gameplay that was hardy and difficult was often accompanied by quite a few features that helped players to feel safe with their time and their progress. Automatic game saves. Characters that automatically healed after surviving a battle. Adjustable difficulty settings, for people who wanted an easier playthrough.
Demon’s Souls piled all of that player-safety into a trash can and figuratively lit it on fire. Saving your progress became a very limited feature, and there was no “automatic healing” in the game. Instead, players were forced to be extremely strategic with the items that restored their characters’ vitality. Enemy monsters were brutal in their ability to direct swift, mortal damage to players who weren’t paying attention. Often, monsters would be hidden in traps that would require dexterity to avoid.
If the “safe” style of gameplay was the norm in 2009, Demon’s Souls turned the paradigm on its head with punishing difficulty and unrelenting stress directed at the player. It was a “new” experience that many gamers related to the older days of consoles that didn’t feature such comforting gameplay facets.
Platforms: PlayStation 3
Following the cult success of the relatively small Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls was released in 2011. This would be the first in an epic trilogy, built upon the successful features and trends begun in the title before it.
At this point, FromSoftware was on gamers’ radars, and as a result, Dark Souls received significantly more than a cult following. Critics loved it, and gamers devoured both the challenging gameplay and the complex narrative woven into the context of the game’s gothic environments.
After customizing a character, players were tasked with navigating a labyrinthine landscape of enemies, traversing ruined castles and blasted-out mountains. The ferocity of the enemies and the frustrating difficulty of the game’s bosses made it exactly what Demon’s Souls fans were after.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
Dark Souls II
More than just a spiritual successor to the game that came before it (as Dark Souls was), Dark Souls II was a full-blown sequel, taking place within the same fictional landscape. It featured all of the elements that made Dark Souls a smash hit, but many critics found it to be lacking a little something. As it turned out, many attributed this “something” to the missing game director responsible for the first Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki.
In spite of the absence of the creative force that drove the second title, Dark Souls II is still a fantastic game. The graphics still hold up today, even though they’re a generation old by now. The expansion content that followed the game’s release is widely regarded to be some of the very best in the series’ entire history.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows PC
Dark Souls III
And now, we arrive at the present. Released just this year (2016), Dark Souls III is the pinnacle of the series; the culmination of several years worth of style evolution across multiple console generations. The story that was told through implication and context is wrapped up in the Dark Souls III narrative, but the story isn’t the focus of the game, so much as the enormously articulate boss battles and exploration.
Hidetaka Miyazaki returned to helm this game, and critical response has all but praised his coming back to see the series off in style. The bleak landscapes (and their surprising moments of beauty) echo what the Souls games achieved back with the original Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, while still managing to expand and grow upon the new features added in Dark Souls II.
The game is still slated to receive downloadable content that hasn’t been released yet, but the core game is a beautiful thing; a magnum opus dedicated to a some of the most difficult (yet rewarding) gameplay delivered to modern gamers.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Special Mention: Bloodborne
Of course, we can’t wrap up a discussion of the Souls series without specific mention of Bloodborne. This title–the beginning of an entirely new intellectual property–is the closest thing that fans have to a torch-carrying successor to the recently concluded Dark Souls trilogy. It features exceptionally similar gameplay, a dark, gothic environment, and the same soul-crushing (pun #2) difficult as the FromSoftware titles that came before it.
Multi-platform accessibility is out the window for Bloodborne, however. Like Demon’s Souls before it, Bloodborne was developed specifically for Sony’s PlayStation 4, serving as one of the most highly-anticipated exclusive titles on the console. If the Souls games are “medieval gothic” in their style and execution, then Bloodborne is “gothic horror.” The monsters are more intense, and the combat is much faster-paced than what gamers were used to in Souls games.
It nevertheless delivered in the way that fans wanted, though, and there’s little doubt that Bloodborne is directly responsible for many PlayStation 4 sales.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Can I Play Demon’s Souls on PC?
Here’s where things get a little bit tricky, and I’m forced to be the bearer of bad news. As of right now, there’s no version of Demon’s Souls available for Windows PC. On top of that, PlayStation 3 emulators aren’t quite up-to-snuff in terms of being able to deliver a flawless version of the game for people to run on their computers.
Effectively, this means that Demon’s Souls is still only available on PlayStation 3.
The only thing that we can place stock in is patience. The PlayStation 3 hardware and operating system architecture are extremely tough to crack, but talented programmers and coders are currently plugging away at creating a working emulator. Once that’s available, playing Demon’s Souls will only require a copy of the game! Until then…it’s going to require a PlayStation 3.
How’s that for a cursory guide to one of the best game series currently available? You may not be able to download and play Demon’s Souls on Windows PC quite yet, but we’re certain to be able to, someday. If you have any further questions about the Souls games (or other FromSoftware titles), let us know in the comments below!