Top 10 Games on Game Pass for People who hate Dark Souls

Dark Souls, in many ways, is the perfect game. There I was loving Otogi: Myth of Demons, Metal Wolf Chaos, and even Ninja Blade. Then Fromsoftware decided to release Demon’s Souls and then Dark Souls. I was all like ‘Yes, here is this perfect, pathetic, human shaped hole I can crawl into’. To my shock a lot of people agreed with me.

And this is where I say Dark Souls can do one. What did I ever do to you Fromsoft? You made one of the greatest games ever made in a niche genre, made that genre your own and now everywhere I look there are just really good spins on the genre. I hate it.

I’ve got no time to ‘git gud’ at every single one of these. I’ve got a life (sort of). I am tired of explaining why a ‘story mode’ won’t ruin your game, and I sure as hell don’t want to hear people whining about the lack of PC port for Bloodborne.

Fromsoft has made the world into the final scenes of Mother! For those that haven’t seen the film, it climaxes with a distraught Jennifer Lawrence being terrorised in her house by increasingly bizarre scenes and people. Except instead of a heavy-handed fable about how humans are destroying the earth. It is me running screaming from every single person asking why I haven’t finished Elden Ring yet. I had to move to a remote island in Canada, then to Finland (a country that everyone is convinced doesn’t exist) to get away from people throwing copies of The Surge II at me.

So, here is a list of games on Game Pass right now that you can play if you do not want to learn about parry windows and invincibility frames.

10. You Suck at Parking (review here)

Okay, wait, no this shouldn’t be on the list at all. This is just if Dark Souls was about parking, and the parking was in hell.

Still, great game to play with friends (who are all better than you).

I probably should have put Gris here instead.

9. Hell Let Loose (first impressions here)

I am trying to keep this list balanced. Because some people hate Dark Souls but also hate themselves and other people. This is the kind of game that alternates between pure euphoric highs of running from an artillery shelling to capture a point, to lows of being in squad full of squabblers. Hell Let Loose is a brilliant World War II shooter where co-ordination across massive teams can bring about incredible moments. It can also bring about tank squads that decide to shoot their own side, and blare out Daft Punk on the public channels through their crappy headset (truly give me that tank shell in the face).

A lot of the early concerns have now been addressed and the Xbox version is in a much better state than when I first played too.

Hell Let Loose on a good team, cannot be matched. At the same time, it reminds you that Hell is other people.

8. It takes Two (review here)

After playing Dark Souls or one of the many games that play like it, people want something a little more relaxing. What could be more relaxing than watching the slow dissolution of a marriage while co-ordinating platforming challenges with a friend, or partner? This colourful platformer (included in Game Pass Ultimate subscription) is just brimming with brilliant ideas, and skips between them at a brisk rate. Well worth the play although I do think that anyone that gleefully tries to make the young daughter cry in that game should maybe never have kids.

7. Deep Rock Galactic

 The thing about Dark Souls is that it makes it as obtuse as possible to play in Co-Op. That is a recipe for bad times. Deep Rock Galactic not only makes it easy to play in co-op, but also your teammates are dwarves with guns.  Imagine you were to rock up on the Capra Demon, and he saw you with 3 buddies that all had turrets? That would turn him from one of the most annoying early bosses, to a complete joke.

In all earnestness Deep Rock Galactic is a jolly co-operative jaunt. You descend into dark procedurally generated tunnels full of bugs and mining. It is good for short blasts with a ton of different things to do and the developers have been adding new content all the time.

6. A Short Hike (video review here)

I once sat with a friend and coached him through the first major fight in Dark Souls, it took a couple of hours before he was able to beat it. That’s about the time it takes to complete the whole of A Short Hike.

There are no corpse runs, no agonising defeats (well you slide down a mountain sometimes). You are just a little guy, and who doesn’t want to be a little guy?

5. Pentiment

I did a little search on the Xbox Tavern website to see if we had a review of Pentiment. The website suggested I might be interested in an Elden Ring review instead. Damn you.

Pentiment is a fascinating murder mystery game set in a medieval village. The aesthetic and design choices make it feel unique. The calligraphy of the game helps create this real personality to everyone withing the world. Made by the same people that made everyone’s favourite Fallout (that isn’t the first two), I hope that Pentiment gets played by more people.

4. Lightyear Frontier

Sometimes you want to play a farming sim. Sometimes you want to play a mech game. Lightyear Frontier is both. You can’t kill anything in this game, and nothing can kill you (although water will give you a fight). Instead, you just roam around in your mech being a farmer, cleaning stuff and generally being at peace with the world. It is still in the game preview program but looking very promising.

3. Unpacking (review here)

Bed of Chaos is a boss that feels entirely incongruous with the rest of Dark Souls. I hate it. But I bet you if the Bed of Chaos had a girlfriend it would make space for her in its apartment and appreciate her talents. Unpacking is all about unpacking different rooms during a girl/woman’s life as she grows up, and manages to tell a story through the simple act of finding places to store her stuff. So, when I encountered the dreaded level with her new boyfriend, it broke my heart to see her treated as second-class citizen in his bachelor pad. I’ve never truly hated someone I never got to see until I played Unpacking, but that boyfriend sucked more than any Bed of Chaos ever could.

2. Jusant (review here)

When playing Dark Souls, it often felt like I was making my way up a steep, metaphorical mountain. Jusant replaces the metaphorical with a literal mountain. It also replaces the jamming-your-genitals-in-a-toaster difficulty with a more meditative, non-threatening difficulty. While both are rewarding, Jusant let me walk away from the experience feeling warmer and more at rest. In my end of year article I wrote:

“As a game, Jusant is a solid, well thought out experience. As a re-enactment of climbing, it is the gold standard.”

I stick by that sentiment.

1. Chants of Sennaar

Chants of Sennaar makes you think about language and communication. It is finely crafted puzzle game about deciphering an alien (to you) set of symbols. It looks beautiful and is accompanied by dulcet, soothing music.

It is a very recent addition to Game Pass and it a great example of the smaller, quieter games available.

That’s it, no digs at Dark Souls. I mean, I’ve run out of words in my Thesaurus now, so I’ll have to save up for a new one before I write another top ten list.

Honorary Runner Up:
COD BLOPS 6 – People who play Call of Duty hate almost all other games, so it stands to reason that they would also hate Dark Souls. You will not see my review this fall.

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Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

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