Sometimes a video game is so good that it becomes an inspiration for other games. The new title may be an entirely separate game, but it can draw a lot of working solutions or elements, including gameplay mechanics, characters, or even the entire worlds, from another game, effectively becoming its spiritual successor.

Read on to find some of the best examples of spiritual successor video games.

Top 10 Spiritual Successor Video Games

Dark Souls (Successor to: Demon’s Souls)

Developer: FromSoftware
Release year: 2018
Genre: Action Role-Playing

FromSoftware excels at developing difficult fantasy games, where it’s not uncommon for players to die over and over, forcing them to repeat certain sequences even several times before they finally learn how to pass it. That’s how it is in the original Dark Souls from 2011, but it’s also how it was in Demon’s Souls from 2009.

Demon's Souls PSN - gameplay

As in most role-playing games, you will have to defeat powerful monsters, earn experience in form of souls, and collect unique loot, but don’t be discouraged if you die a lot – we’ve all been here, it just takes some practice. Dark Souls series can be considered a major improvement, especially the third installment of the series, but if you didn’t play any game from the franchise yet, it would be advisable to try the first one as an introductory title.

Key features
  • Role-playing game with emphasis being put on boss fights
  • Not novice-friendly, but has a rewarding difficulty level
  • Tons of unique items to be found

BioShock (Successor to: System Shock 2)

Developer: 2K Boston, 2K Australia
Release year: 2007
Genre: First-Person Shooter

BioShock is a first-person shooter that is set in 1960 and takes place in the underwater city of Rapture. The place was meant to be an isolated utopia for free-minded individuals, free from social, political, and religious anxieties.

BioShock Remastered - shoot

However, the discovery of ADAM, a genetic material that can be used to grant people superhuman powers, marked the beginning of an end of the city – it allowed people to change their DNA to become whatever they wanted, but it was also extremely addicting, causing people to start fighting over it. The game is considered a spiritual successor to the System Shock 2, and not without a reason, as there are some similarities present – chances are that if you liked System Shock 2, you will also like BioShock.

Key features
  • First-person shooter with dark elements and claustrophobic setting
  • Several weapons and superpowers to utilize
  • Dangerous twisted enemies, including the iconic Big Daddy

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Successor to: Castlevania)

Developer: ArtPlay
Release year: 2019
Genre: Metroidvania

Bloodstained can be easily considered a successor to the Castlevania – the influence is clearly visible, and it couldn’t be the other way, especially if you realize that the game was developed under the Koji Igarashi’s lead, who happens to be the former producer of the original Castlevania.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - gameplay

Bloodstained takes place in the 18th century England and it follows post-Metroidvania gameplay. That means you will have to explore various areas and find a way to access some of the locked ones. During your adventure you will also fight countless enemies and some demanding bosses with use of a wide arsenal of weapons and abilities.

Key features
  • Dark metroidvania game set in the 18th century England
  • Beautiful 2.5D graphics – 3D models in 2D environment
  • Tons of weapons and abilities that can be further customized

Bayonetta (Successor to: Devil May Cry)

Developer: PlatinumGames
Release year: 2009
Genre: Action, Hack and Slash

Bayonetta is a fast-paced game that takes place in a fictional European city and lets you play as a charming witch as she hunts down demons of all sorts. She awakened after a 500-year sleep and lost her memories, and it will be your job to help her remember her identity and what brought her to where she currently is.

boss in bayonetta

Bayonetta is very similar to Devil May Cry when it comes to gameplay – combat focuses on an effective use of powerful combos to decimate foes and powerful bosses, and for every completed level you get a certain rating, based on how well you did. However, the game feels more chucklesome and offers some lascivious scenes starring the titular heroine.

Key features
  • Fast-paced dynamic action from third-person perspective
  • Combat with strong emphasis being put on combo mechanics
  • A good dose of humor and fun dialogues

Two Point Hospital (Successor to: Theme Hospital)

Developer: Two Point Studios
Release year: 2018
Genre: Business Simulation

If you are a fan of management games and remember the good old Theme Hospital, then you should definitely try the game that is often referred to as Theme Hospital’s spiritual successor – Two Point Hospital.

two-point-hospital

The gameplay revolves around managing a hospital, and that includes taking care of recruiting new staff and purchasing new equipment, building new rooms, and, of course, treating patients. But don’t expect to be dealing with ordinary illnesses – in fact, most of them are quite ridiculous. Imagine a disease that causes skin burns by prolonged exposure to acid jazz.

Key features
  • Manage several hospitals and build your healthcare empire
  • Treat a variety of illnesses, each requiring an entirely different treatment
  • Ridiculous humor built largely on puns

Path of Exile (Successor to: Diablo II)

Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Release year: 2013
Genre: Action Role-Playing, Hack and Slash

Path of Exile remains one of the most popular hack and slash games out there, together with its main competitor, Diablo III. There are some similarities between the two, and it’s obvious that PoE have drawn inspiration from the Diablo series, but after all these years it became something more and got its own spirit.

Path of Exile

The gameplay is focused on slaying hordes of enemies and collecting powerful randomized loot in order to make your character stronger. One of the unique features of the title is skill gems – instead of having a stereotypical skill tree, you get skill gems that can be socketed into your equipment. Choose whatever skills you want and craft your very own character.

Key features
  • Addictive gameplay focused on slaying hordes of creatures
  • Massive passive skill tree
  • Dozens of active skills that can be further customized by linking support skills of your choice

Alan Wake (Successor to: Max Payne)

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Release year: 2010
Genre: Action-Adventure

Although according to the developers Alan Wake was meant to be a complete opposite of their earlier game, Max Payne, it’s hard not to see some subtle similarities that make us consider Alan Wake its spiritual successor.

Shooting in Alan Wake PC Game

The game tells the story of an ambitious crime fiction writer whose writings at one point start becoming alive and haunt him. In order to fight off the darkness he needs to utilize various light sources, including his flashlight – treating the horrors with light makes them vulnerable to conventional weapons, such as revolvers and shotguns.

Key features
  • Action-adventure psychological thriller inspired by the works of Stephen King
  • Unique combat mechanics that involve the use of various light sources
  • Episodic structure – six episodes of intriguing and complex story

Assassin’s Creed (Successor to: Prince of Persia)

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release year: 2007
Genre: Action-Adventure, Stealth

Assassin’s Creed is a game that takes place simultaneously in the past and in the present and focuses on the conflict between the Templars and the Assassins, with assassins being the good guys.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

There is a machine called Animus – with its use one can relive the past and experience the life of his ancestors. Desmond Miles, who happens to be the descendant of one of the Assassins named Altaïr is forced to use the machine and travel back to 1191 in order to step into his shoes and learn about the mysterious artifact that seems to be the source of conflcit between the two organizations.

Key features
  • Focused on stealth mechanics, such as sneaking and silently assassinating targets
  • Detailed and historically accurate environments
  • Intriguing story about the conflict that lasts for centuries

Far Cry 3 (Successor to: Crysis)

Developer: Ubisoft Omntreal
Release year: 2012
Genre: First-Person Shooter

It would be hard to find someone who didn’t at least hear about Far Cry series. The first game was an exceptionally valuable addition to the gaming collection of every FPS fan.

Far Cry 3 introduced some important features that pushed the hardware to its limit at the time, such as destructible terrain, dynamic lighting, and advanced environment and character physics. It’s worth coming back even today – the game that is considered a spiritual successor to Crysis still offers enjoyable experience with its smart AI and diverse combat action taking place somewhere on a tropical archipelago.

Key features
  • Survive on a tropical island full of hostile mercenaries
  • Smart AI that is able to cooperate, surround the player, and provide suppressive fire
  • Long-range gunplay, made possible thanks to huge playable area

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Successor to: Burnout Paradise)

Developer: Criterion Games
Release year: 2012
Genre: Racing

For the final position on the list we’ve got a racing game, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, considered to be a spiritual successor to the Burnout Paradise.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted - gameplay

What makes the two games similar is how players are able to take alternative routes during a race – races have the start and end points, but it’s up to players on how to get from one point to the other. As with most NFS games, you get a more arcade gameplay that favors fun over realism, which allows you to experience a more casual approach to the racing genre.

Key features
  • Open world environment that can be roamed freely
  • A wide range of cars, from muscle and street ones to exotics
  • Several different types of race events

Reincarnated games with a similar formula

Spiritual successor video games borrow some elements from an existing game and implement them in their own way to create something new that may or may not resemble the original. If the original game was good, chances are high that the successor will also be welcomed warmly by the gaming community, but it’s not always the case – no one knows the recipe for a hit game, after all.

Game developers often look for inspiration in other games, as it would be incredibly difficult to come up with an entirely new concept in the 21st century. Sometimes they come upon a game they instantly fall in love with, but they find certain elements they dislike – so they may decide to create their own game based on the one they found, but implement new solutions and get rid of all the things they didn’t like in hope that the resulting work will surpass the original in terms of all the factors that make the game fun and enjoyable to play.

Spiritual successors may sometimes raise copyright issues, so for developers, it’s always a risky business to create one, but if they manage to fix all the legal problems, they may end up with a new iconic title that will be cited by the most popular gaming magazines and websites. What else spiritual successors video games do you know?