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Games that aren't Souls-like but have similar storytelling

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Nowadays the Souls-like is a very successful genre, but most of these games imitate the combat and rpg mechanics of their inspiration, and fewer than you'd think use the same kind of storytelling: scattered, just vague enough to leave you with tantalizing misteries even after you figured everything out, but concrete enough to paint a broad-strokes picture of what happened/is happening if you explore and read thoroughly.
However, there are games that tell their story like this even outside the Souls-like genre; I'm going to bring up those I know, but I'd really like it if you could recommend me some new ones.

  • Everything Failbetter Games makes: this company is primarily helmed by writers, and it shows; wether it's the mobile text-adventure Fallen London (formerly Echo Bazaar), the Seafaring RPGs Sunless Sea and Sunless Sky, or the cult-building card game Cultist Simulator, trying risky new things and new places is fundamental to learning both how to progress and what is going on in the story, which is always more than a little eldritch and just enough convoluted to really get your head working. the last three games especially are a guaranteed treat for fans of Bloodborne lore, but I'd especially recommend Sunless Sky, since it has actually fun action combat, with stamina management and a dodge, even!
  • Outer Wilds: rightfully famous for it's puzzles in a simulated solar system, it's also the game that is most sensitive to spoilers that I know of. Go in blind and marvel.
  • Anodyne: what appears like a simple action-rpg made in RPGMaker has incredible depths of both story and gameplay. This is one of the game sthat most rewards exploration; it might actually ruin other exploration-based games for you.
  • Transistor: the most literally Souls-like in storytelling on this list, as information on the background characters and the world is mostly gathered through item descriptions. What's especially cool, though, is that these items are powerups for your sword, which reveal more of their lore the more you upgrade them
  • Brigador: an excellent mech-combat game which describes it's world through the descriptions of characters, weapons and vehicles. These have to be bought rather than found, and the storytelling is more based on mood than lore and character drama, but the mood is spot-on, and the presentation is amazing. Just be warned that, although it ight look like a twin-stick shooter, most vehicles have tank controls, in order to make it easier to angle your armor against incoming shots.
    You can also buy an audiobook set in the game's world, and I found it a very compelling little piece of military sci-fi
  • Noita: the main appeal of this game might be the physiscs simulation or the extremely customizable weapons, but the lore is also incredibly compelling, and just as hard to find. Getting to the bottom of it will require you to go to the four corners of the immense, incredibly hostile world, but it will be worth it.
  • Pathologic 1 & 2: Possibly the best recommendation for those who think Demon's Souls is the best of modern From Software because it was more experimental: these games are hard as nails, demand constant and close attention, and the story must be pieced together through clues, implications, and the dialogues of characters who can be misinformed, misleading, or both. Play Pathologic Classic HD if you like your stories allegorical and have a greater tolerance for boredom than difficulty, play Pathologic 2 if you want a more demanding but more engaging gameplay and prefer the story to be grounded by character interactions and personal stakes.

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If I understand it correctly, I think Kenshi's storytelling and worldbuilding method is pretty similar. The bigger picture of the world can certainly only be derived by taking in other context clues scattered throughout.


It's one of my favorite storytelling methods, it leaves it up to the player to figure it out on their own.

Fuck, man. Everything. I push buttons. I turn dials. I read numbers. Sometimes I make up little stories in my head about what the numbers mean.

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On 7/14/2022 at 1:10 PM, StrixLiterata said:

Anodyne: what appears like a simple action-rpg made in RPGMaker has incredible depths of both story and gameplay. This is one of the game sthat most rewards exploration; it might actually ruin other exploration-based games for you.

Have you ever played Exile? (not the avernum remake)

It used wall bumping in order to find secret passages and so rewarded every nook and cranny with a small surprise, trash heaps outside of cities sometimes having a special knife or a hidden ruby and other such things. The dev abandoned most of that in the remake, which saddned me at first, but I can understand now that for a more mature audience the constant need for wall bumping could get tedious fast.

Burn the World!

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