The 2D Dark Souls metroidvania that never saw the light of day

Dark Souls
(Image credit: Thomas Feichtmeir)

What you need to know

  • Game artist Thomas Feichtmeir recently revealed that roughly six years ago, Bandai Namco was considering greenlighting a 2D Dark Souls 3 metroidvania.
  • The game never got off the ground for an unknown reason, though Feichtmeir noted that the game's art style would have been "doable" based on average budget estimations for metroidvania games at the time.
  • Based on the concept art for the game, it looks like it would have had many of the same mechanics traditional Soulsborne games have, including dodging, stamina management, mana/focus points, spells, and Estus Flask-style healing.

While most metroidvania games — titles that promote non-linear exploration and progression in a large, interconnected world — are 2D sidescrollers, there are plenty of fantastic 3D experiences that have ties to the genre, too. Among them is FromSoftware's "Soulsborne" series of games, which have been captivating players with their densely layered and detail-rich environments and incredibly satisfying combat mechanics for over a decade. Games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are often referenced as some of the best 3D metroidvania-style games of all time, and 2022's Elden Ring is currently poised to walk away with a Game of the Year award after selling over 16.6 million copies.

But while players have come to associate Dark Souls and its sister titles with a 3D experience, game artist Thomas Feichtmeir has recently revealed that at one point, a project that would have brought the franchise to life in 2D was being considered by Bandai Namco. According to Feichtmeir, the game was pitched to the publisher around six years ago, and would have been an offshoot of 2016's Dark Souls 3.

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"The art here was created in a style which would have been doable in the average budget estimations of metroidvanias back then," wrote Feichtmeir on Twitter as he discussed the artwork he created for the pitch (visible above). He then went on to state that he isn't aware of why the project never got off the ground, as he was just in charge of designing a visual concept for the game. It's unclear whether or not developer FromSoftware would have been involved with the project, though Feichtmeir speculated that they wouldn't have been since Bandai Namco has control of the Dark Souls intellectual property.

Interestingly, based on the artwork, it seems like the game might have had many of the same mechanics that FromSoftware's 3D Soulsborne games do, including dodges, stamina management, mana/focus points, spells, and Estus Flask-style healing. As a Dark Souls game, it surely would have had plenty of intense boss fights, too. As a 2D game, it may have also placed a strong emphasis on platforming, although this is mere speculation.

Overall, it's a shame that Bandai Namco didn't greenlight the project, as I would have loved to experience a 2D adaptation of Dark Souls. Hopefully the publisher will revisit the concept in the future in some way. Until then, I'll be playing the lovely fan-made Elden Ring demake whenever I get a hankering for some 2D Soulsborne action. Of course, there's always Elden Ring itself, too, which continues to be an absolute blast no matter how many times I replay it with new characters and builds.

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Elden Ring

Elden Ring is FromSoftware's latest fantasy epic, featuring a focus on open-ended design in a universe created by both FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin. With tight combat, incredible world design, beautiful visuals, and more, the game is nothing short of an absolute triumph.

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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.