FromSoftware games are known for being extremely difficult. Games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are punishing and made me want to hurl my controller against the wall more than once. So why bother playing them? Simply put, FromSoftware games have the greatest bosses in any video game. Period. From their design, to their lore, to the degree of difficulty, no game does as good a job at creating such unique, terrifying, and eventually joyous experiences. It wasn’t easy to narrow down, but here are our Top 10 FromSoftware bosses.
10. Mirror Knight – Dark Souls 2
While Dark Souls 2 was certainly a step backwards from the first game, it still had some great bosses. The Mirror Knight is one of those. After fighting your way through a castle filled with armored knights and grotesque statues that burst to life, you finally reach the top of the tower. As you emerge through the fog door and into the rain, the Mirror Knight stands waiting for you. He towers above you, clad entirely in silver armor, with a massive greatsword and an obsidian shield. He moves slowly, but does powerful damage. The battle really gets interesting when he begins summoning player-controlled enemies. At random points during the battle, the Mirror Knight will lower his shield and a knight will burst through it to attack you. Fighting one boss is hard enough, but two is almost impossible. Finally besting him was one of the best moments of Dark Souls 2.
9. Aretha (Seed a Barren Earth) – Armored Core IV
We’re all familiar with FromSoftware at this point. Whether it be through Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, or Bloodborne‘s style of gameplay, creativity, and immense difficulty of the bosses–many gamers have a FromSoftware story. But FromSoftware has a much more storied past than the Souls–esque series. In fact, FromSoftware has been gracing gamers with pretty cool games for over a decade. The Armored Core franchise has provided me with numerous hours of single player, competitive, and co-operative gameplay. We would be remiss in forgetting to add the series into a FromSoftware boss compilation. Personally, I can think of no better Armored Core boss than the Aretha from Armored Core IV. Wielding FromSoftware’s brutal difficulty, the Aretha gave gamers a run for their money. Having been friends and comrades with the Aretha’s pilot, the player must now face him in single mech combat. With neck breaking speed and mech busting capabilities, the Aretha left a brutal memory in my video game data banks.
8. Old King Allant – Demon’s Souls
Like many duels in the Souls series, Old King Allant does not play around, he will kick you to the ground and make you beg. Allant is a powerful opponent, complete with high resistances, health and attacks that can near enough drain the health bar in one slash. What makes the False King dangerous is his movepool, with a variety of moves that can catch from a distance or combo you to death if you try to get a hit in. Allant uses all of this in rather quick succession, with openings really appearing after he uses his most deadly attacks. This isn’t even the most deadly aspect of Allant however, with his Soul Drain attack decimating health and reducing the player’s soul level. Allant can genuinely take away your progress and lower the last stat you leveled. Sadly, the hardest bit about Allant isn’t the soul drain or massive AoE attack, it’s the bizzare, two minute elevator ride to his boss arena.
7. Duke’s Dear Freja – Dark Souls 2
Baby spiders. Web shots. Big leg strikes. Laser beams. Duke’s Dear Freja has quite an interesting move pool, yet even after all this she does not pose that much of a threat. Freja is just frustrating. For starters, walk through the fog and players have seconds to react to the barrage of spiders that want a quick taste. There is a lot going on in this fight, but it is all about making sure you clock Freja in one of her two heads. It isn’t hard to read her telegraphed attacks, but dodging her babies makes it a cumbersome task, meaning you will feel a couple of laser beams or leg strikes.
Freja as a boss is not hard, not in comparison to others on the list, it is just the commute to her that dials up the frustration factor. Starting at a considerably distant bonfire in Brightstone Cove, it takes ages to reach Freja. Players have to go through all sorts of barraging assailants until they reach the top of Freja’s dwelling and even then it is still a case of carefully navigating down a web filled cave that could mean death if one wrong move is made. This, coupled with Freja herself, just made me want to give up playing.
6. Manus, Father of the Abyss – Dark Souls DLC
Manus, father of the abyss, stands as tall as buildings. His intimidating stature sets the tone for the final battle in the DLC of Dark Souls. With incredible reach, massive damage, and huge AoE attacks, Manus pulls no punches. And after the extensive journey just to reach the beast, through the tireless enemies and ferocious bosses before him, Manus is in the pitch of the barren caverns awaiting your arrival. If not properly equipped, the player faces a speedy demise. Much like the majority of From Software bosses, Manus ramps his difficulty up as the players continue to lay on the damage. If his brutal difficulty isn’t enough to cement him into the minds of Souls fans, the epic horns and corrupted arm–let alone his skyscraper size–should paint a lasting, horrifying image.
~ Evan Schwab