Now that Dark Souls is supposedly over (pending the inevitable DLC for Dark Souls III), it's time to wonder what new games From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki might decide to make. Will they continue to make Souls-like games (ala Bloodborne)? Will they go back to older IPs like Armored Core or King's Field? All indications seem to point towards the company going back towards making mech games along the lines of Armored Core (though it may be a new IP).
I've played some of the Armored Core games, and I actually really liked some of the PS1 / PS2 - era games. But I would actually much rather see the company try their hand at something different. I'd like to see this company (under Miyazaki's direction) take a stab at a genuine horror game.
Miyazaki has said that Dark Souls is likely over. So what's next for his company?
They've already played around with some horror concepts in some of the Souls games. Levels like the Tower of Latria and Valley of Defilement in Demon's Souls had genuinely frightening atmospheres. The Dark Souls games also had their share of some horror-inspired levels. Sen's Fotress and Tomb of the Giants have the pacing of a horror level. And of course, Bloodborne was a whole game inspired by Gothic horror and Lovecraft.
Granted, these games were all hack-and-slash action games, rather than genuine horror games, but these levels in these games actually made for a better survival horror experience than most of the actual "survival horror" games that were being released at the time. They are slow, methodical levels focused around exploration and careful observation of the environment. They have threatening enemies and consequences for death that create genuine fear and apprehension. There is even the occasional minor puzzle to solve. But most importantly, these games are poster-children for environmental storytelling and immersive world-building, and those are two qualities that seem to be underrated in horror games.
Demon's Souls and Bloodborne have both already shown Lovecraftian horror atmospheres.
Bloodborne implies that this developer has an interest in the horror genre, and the games that they've developed have clearly shown aptitude in making frightening and threatening games. Evil Within was a flop, and so Alien: Isolation has been the only mainstream horror success in recent memory. Even the Indie scene seems to be making lackluster offerings in the horror field. I've heard pretty disappointing reactions to Layers of Fear, and even Frictional's Soma is more of a science fiction thriller than a real horror game (but it's a pretty darned good sci-fi thriller!). With Silent Hills being killed and Kojima's new studio appearing to be working on a new action IP instead of picking up where P.T. left off, the horror gaming landscape has suddenly become very underwhelming.
I feel that FromSoft is exactly the kind of company that could deliver on a triple-A horror title, and I think it's a shame that they are apparently going to go back to focusing on mech games. I highly doubt that we'll be seeing a mech-based horror game. With all the commercial and critical success of the Souls games, you'd think that they'd have enough cash to be able to afford a more risky new project. Maybe not; I don't know much about the company's finances. It seems unlikely that we're going to get a horror game out of this company any time soon, but I really hope that they at least take it under consideration. They're one of a few major studios (outside of Kojima Productions) that I feel could really pull it off.
In his Youtube analysis of Dark Souls II, Matt Lee says one of the most poignant things I've ever heard in regard to From Soft's Souls-Bourne series:
"Many of us fell out of love with games in general,
purely on the basis of other games not being Dark Souls."
- Matt Lee, Youtuber
For me, it wasn't Dark Souls that made me fall out of love with games in general; it was Demon's Souls. And while I'm perfectly content with the idea of the series being over (I'd hate for it to suffer the same degrading fate as my beloved Silent Hill), I definitely want to continue playing games from this developer. I'm kind of a From Soft fanboy now. Armored Core, on the other hand, isn't exactly my cup of tea, and I'd like to see them do something else - something new.
From's next game will likely be some kind of mech game similar to Armored Core.