We’re listing the ten Games of the Decade. These are the ten PlayStation titles released over the past ten years that we believe have left a historic mark on the industry. Whether it’s Destiny's impact on the Games as a Service space or Journey’s innovative approach to online connectivity, these are the releases that the industry will be referencing well into 2020 and beyond.
Demon's Souls did it first, but it was Dark Souls which brought the concept to the masses. Death and difficulty have always been two sources of video game frustration for as long as time remembers, although it wasn't until 2011 when Japanese developer From Software would truly burst onto the scene and give the concepts a whole new meaning. Accepting failure became a chance to learn; difficulty was something to conquer and boast about in the aftermath. It's a set of mechanics which has helped to craft an incredibly successful franchise and a handful of even better spin-offs, as well as a myriad of copycats.
The likes of Lords of the Fallen, The Surge, Nioh, Salt and Sanctuary, and Ashen all owe their entire existence to Dark Souls, while other titles such as the recent Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order come packaged with their own spin on things. Terms such as Bonfires and the Estus Flask have become common lingo, grandiose boss fights upped their scale exponentially, and the labyrinthine-like nature of locations grew to justify the lack of an in-game map. It was Dark Souls that laid those foundations for time to come.
Still lacking an official name, the Souls-like genre is one that has matured over the years. Attempts by other studios have never managed to actually better the work of From Software, and we doubt they ever will, although they do help to solidify how much the original creators got right at the time. Bonfires, Meditation Points, Med Bays -- whatever it is you want to call them, they became a rare chance to relax and take stock of your travels. Spend your Souls on levelling up and bring life back to every enemy you slaughtered along the way, repair and upgrade your equipment, or fast travel to other locations in some cases. The bonfire is perhaps the concept which had the most impact on video games as a whole.
Boss fights are some of Dark Souls' most memorable moments, however, and it's the game's approach to those daring battles which changed important clashes for a decade. You can never go too long in a video game before a gigantic health bar suddenly presents itself on-screen coupled with a devilish title for the beast you're about to test your might against. Along with unique mechanics to change the tide of battle, every towering foe demanded a different approach as attack patterns changed, phases would dramatically switch up the antagonist's form, and targeting specific body parts could even yield unique weapons. It's a model that continues to be replicated to this day, heightening the extravagance of a boss fight in the process.
Dark Souls was such a PlayStation 3 innovator that many of its original concepts have become mere footnotes. Its build variety put most RPGs to shame with repeated playthroughs promoted through complex class systems and intricate character upgrades. A grand narrative traditionally reserved for cutscenes was instead told through item descriptions and vague NPC dialogue. Covenants allowed you to pledge allegiance to specific factions, bringing with them rewards for following guidelines and penalties for going against its wishes. Unlike anything else upon its 2011 release, Dark Souls legitimised tough difficulty for a generation and laid the foundations for a genre that could celebrate it. Numerous copycats have come and most certainly gone, but none have bettered one of the PS3's most exceptional titles. A true one-of-a-kind.
Do you agree that Dark Souls changed difficulty forever? Do you agree with the game's inclusion on this list? Chop off the tail in the comments below.