Elden Ring is a fantasy, action and open world game with RPG elements such as stats, weapons and spells. Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.
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From Software’s latest epic is enormous, beautiful, and over stuffed. Doesn’t quite sell the “open world” addition to itself but it’s fun to explore spooky ruins and such. 3/4’s of the way through, it becomes obvious they needed more time and all the “side content” repeats itself ad nauseam. It’s still a technical and aesthetic triumph. Lore is as complicated and convoluted as ever, which I like. My favorite element being simply getting lost in the majesty of a world at the edge of total darkness. It’s all about the vibes.
Beaten: Mar 05 2022
Time: 65 Hours
I finally beat a souls game!! Finally, I got to get to the end of one of these games made by a studio/crew I respect, with an aesthetic I find incredibly alluring, and sporting combat with a tactile satisfaction most games only dream of!! A game that is triple A, but still feels like it’s trying new ideas (or at least new combinations of old ideas). Not stale, not simplified, not any easier or harder than these games usually are (though maybe a tad more accessible at the outset). Elden Ring is a fantastic game.
I love all these overly technical games FromSoft makes, games full of stats and numbers that are both fairly understandable and utterly overwhelming. There’s a freedom to it, and ER pushes that freedom into every aspect of its design. The game’s still a souls game, through and through (and particularly souls, not bloodborne or sekiro), but in between the more traditional areas, you’ve got large swaths of gorgeous open world. While it isn’t the first time a souls game has had the option to go do something else when you get stuck (hello DeS), something about the way it’s implemented here makes it feel like a more viable option. There’s loads of optional bosses that are less aggressive and put out levels and levels of runes (souls), and they’re all fairly easy to find by exploring around this world.
The “legacy dungeons” themselves are massive, larger than most normal souls levels. If you want interconnectedness, ledge walking stacked on ledge walking, and goofy enemy placement, you’ll get your share. I guess that’s why as much as making a big accessible open world souls game might sound like it’d compromise the center of the souls style, it really doesn’t? The bosses still hit like trucks and the enemies and hidden walls are plentiful, there’s just a few more of them and less of a specific route through them. This accessibility has stoked the “difficulty conversation” much more than I remember Sekiro doing a few years ago, and I guess I’ll give my take on it. No game is required to be accessible to everyone, but adding a more accessible mode in a big budget blockbuster game like this, a game that’ll inevitably dominate GOTY conversations, seems like a no brainer. If Celeste can have one and not compromise the core of the game, FromSoft can absolutely give it a shot. That’s not to say these games are particularly hard though, at least not in the traditional sense of the word? If you act with deliberacy, you’ll usually be fine. The frustration comes from building bad habits (that the games aren’t the best at discouraging) and the lack of forgiveness in the game. Enemies hit hard, and it can get hard to recover from bad positioning or an unlucky combo. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut against a boss, not wanting to change your strategy and throw progress away, and either just quitting or going and grinding until you can push through. That frustration is at least somewhat intended, but even still it’s a huge barrier to entry to the games, and this one doesn’t pull its punches there. Most of the bosses are fine and fun and didn’t leave me frustrated, but there were a few that I was stuck on for too long, and even some friends that are big souls-heads have nearly dropped the game over some bosses. Besides that, I’m not sure there’s much to say? It’s fantastic, it’s fun, it’s gorgeous (but not in that overly detailed somebody spent 80 hours a week making this against their will naughty dog way), and it’s still a souls game, albeit one that’s a little bit friendlier while still being just as punishing. I really liked my time with it, though I do wish it’d been a bit shorter. For a first souls game (or in my case, first one beaten) it’s a great starting point.
This review contains spoilers
Saying Elden Ring is incredible is an understatement, everything from the challenging and mesmerising boss fights to the thorough and intricate world-building, Elden Ring, being the first FromSoftware game I have managed to complete, had me hooked.
Despite my overwhelming love for the game, there are a few obvious issues, such as the heavy skill inclines in certain parts of the game, and the existance of waterfowl dance, but for every one thing Elden Ring does wrong, I can name five is does beautifully, the vast open world areas (most of them) are filled to the brim with intriguing NPCs, questlines, catacombs and hidden secrets around every corner. The Legacy Dungeons are the same, with a plethora of unique enemy types to constantly keep you learning new ways to fight, most of which are great to face off against, except birds, fuck the birds, i despise the birds, and those rot insect things that shoot webs at you.
In terms of bosses, I can't compare them to other FromSoft games as i'm yet to play most of their other games, but a majority of them, especially the rememberance bosses, are incredible to fight and admire from a design standpoint, but also gripping when you find out the lore behind them, some of which I didn't even want to kill after finding out how they lived their lives.
After playing the game 3 times (2 with one character, 1 with another), experimenting with a variety of different builds both magical and brute force, and experiencing all 3 major endings, I can say that Elden Ring has definitely become my new favourite game, and has opened me up to a plethora of new gaming experiences. Elden Ring is possibly one of the most berautiful yet brutal pieces of media outside of its inspiration, Berserk, and despite my countless outbursts after being killed by Malenia for the 435th time, I enjoyed every second of it.