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Bandai Namco was pitched a 16-bit Dark Souls, and it looks fantastic

If you ever thought Dark Souls had one too many dimensions, then Thomas Fei has good news for you. The artist has shared an image of a 2D version of Dark Souls 3 that was pitched to publisher Bandai Namco back in 2016.

The Dark Souls 3 artwork, which Fei shared on his Twitter, shows a player in a SNES-style 16-bit battle with the Dancer of the Boreal Valley boss. Up until now, Fei had been bound by a non-disclosure agreement but, presumably due to time and because the project didn’t go forward, they’re now free to share the image.

Fei’s tweet is the first that fans of FromSoftware’s punishing fantasy trilogy, and Dark Souls 3 in particular, will likely have heard of the potential 2D offering – and, if indeed Bandai Namco isn’t going ahead with the project, I can’t help but think it’s a missed opportunity. 

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Fei-bled for success?

Since this pitch in 2016, 2D Soulslikes have really flourished. The grueling nature of the combat-heavy genre is not for everyone, but for those who love Dark Souls and want more punishment, many of the most unforgiving games happen to be 2D platformer-style titles.

The combination of nostalgic pixellated graphics and harsh grind of tanky boss battles is nothing new to us these days, with gems like Dead Cells and Hollow Knight proving that you don’t need the advanced realistic graphics of Elden Ring to make a decent Soulslike.

Bandai Namco’s even looked to be teasing fans with a side-scrolling take on the Souls games with a trailer it released back in 2017. 

The video appeared to be a black and white game with an almost Bloodborne-like edge. It turns out it was all style for the video, though, the game, Code Vein, bore little resemblance to that initial tease, ending up being a 3rd-person anime action RPG. 

Code Vein

(Image credit: Code Vein)

It’s not all missed opportunities and dead ends, though. If you like the look of the 2D Dark Souls 3, you may want to look into another 16-bit hack n’ slash epic: Blasphemous. 

In a follow-up tweet to his 2D Dark Souls 3 reveal, he shares some more of his artwork. “I keep reading Blasphemous a lot in my notifications,” he says. “Everyone new here might appreciate to know that I actually worked on Blasphemous too :)”.

Bandai Namco may have passed on a Dark Souls 3 spin-off, but other developers aren’t slipping on the possibilities.

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