A group of Dark Souls modders essentially took the original game and put it into a blender. Called Dark Souls: Nightfall, the mod is a collage of late-game areas with remixed sets of enemies to fight. The full thing won't be released until sometime after Elden Ring (opens in new tab), but a demo of the mod (opens in new tab) was made available earlier this week.
It's unclear in the demo where exactly Nightfall sits in the Souls timeline, but I suspect, like in Dark Souls 3, the world's most important locations have started to converge. That's why the full release will use existing level pieces to create a new map with unique bosses and characters. The demo begins in the lava-soaked ruins of Lost Izalith and transitions to Darkroot Garden, and the enemies either completely unique or plucked from the original game and its DLC.
What's most impressive about Dark Souls: Nightfall is how it incorporates all of the Souls series (including Bloodborne and Sekiro) into its new mechanics. You have the equivalent of Estus Flasks to heal, but counter-attacks against enemies will also heal your recently lost health, like in Bloodborne. This gives the mod room to ramp up how many enemies you face at a time and rewards you for playing aggressively. Depending on how brave you feel, you can press a key to swap into a two-handed stance to perform more combo attacks at the cost of losing your ability to heal.
The combat encounters echo the ones you'd see in a typical From Software game. Archers snipe at you while melee enemies rush you. Normally, you'd bolt toward the archer or pull one enemy around a corner, but in Dark Souls: Nightfall, you have the ability to maintain pressure without losing much health in the process. Bigger enemies show up and cautious play returns, but I'm sure with more time, you could hone your skill at the two-handed stance (which introduces a short teleport in place of a roll) to clean up tougher foes.
The level design isn't quite as considered as it is in the original game, which features a tightly designed world that loops back around on itself a lot. But what's there is stretched out to provide a nice rhythm for exploring and fighting. There's even a gag where a lone tree enemy stands in a wide open room, and then inexplicably walks into lava and dies in front of you. The demo is labyrinthine and funny in the ways few games that try to ape Dark Souls are able to be.
Dark Souls: Nightfall could be a wonderful reason to return to the game that helped popularize an entire genre. A lot of Dark Souls mods focus on heightening the difficulty by doing ridiculous things like turning every enemy into a boss, or they're purely jokes, like one that lets you play as the game's creator Hidetaka Miyazaki (opens in new tab). Dark Souls: Nightfall, on the other hand, appears to take its aim to be a sequel seriously.