9 Reviews liked by duke_of_jukes

some really incredible puzzles, but the cat talks too much.

You go from drunkingly chasing pigs at a wedding, to robbing a bank, to exploring a haunted house and then end up playing hide and seek with evil incarnate in HELL.

After Dark Souls 3, the way I categorized the series was something like this: Dark Souls was the incredibly tight masterpiece that sticks with you forever, Dark Souls 2 was the somewhat successful experiment which was worse but still great, and Dark Souls 3 is the one you hop into and play again and again to just have more Dark Souls to play. It was a satisfying ending partially because much like the cyclical ages of that world, there was no true ending.
I didn't pay Elden Ring much mind in the time before its launch. I knew I would play anything Miyazaki touches on launch, but I have little respect for George R. R. Martin and honestly didn't realize it would amount to Dark Souls 4 (Demon's Souls 5?). Of course, that changed as the day approached. Now that it's here and I've finished it, I think I've figured out where it fits in. Elden Ring is Souls popcorn. That's not to say it's dumb or simplistic...it's brilliantly designed popcorn. But the point is, when I play Elden Ring I do so because I get to shove massive amounts of Souls gameplay soaked in open world butter into my mouth and loudly crunch it because I can.
There's still enough of a spin to give it its own identity. You're massively acrobatic, weapon effects are much more important, there's new systems piled on new systems piled on new systems, with the most interesting of which being the two kinds of ashes. Speaking of those, there's even more of a co-op focus in this one. Bosses often seem to be designed around having two targets, be that you and your ash friend or you and another player. Personally I still felt like summoning players would make things too easy, but accepted ash summons as a standard tool. There's just so much to experiment with...years later I'm still not out of new playstyles to try in the other games, but Elden Ring makes it so I will absolutely never ever run out. This game is far from being an "immersive sim" / shocklike, but there are so many different ways to approach a situation that it naturally comes around to that kind of appeal. The barrier to trying new upgrade paths and kinds of equipment has been almost entirely broken down, so you can just go absolutely wild.
I have a big dumb smile on my face when I'm playing this. People hate fighting the same boss with a new form or when they bring a friend along? I don't get it, I'm always so excited to find more stuff to fight, since even just throwing another boss or some minions in the mix drastically changes how you have to approach the fight. Even if it didn't, I wouldn't really mind it. It only happens in clear "minor boss" locations, and there's nothing magical about a boss which makes it something you're not allowed to repeat, but a standard enemy is.
This is another game I'll have to put down in the "I'll have intelligent things to say about this another time, it's too much right now" pile. For now, I'll leave it at how utterly in love with this game I am. I adore Elden Ring more than I ever expected to. I'm so happy, guys. There's double the Souls out there to enjoy than there was only a month ago :)
Played on Fedora Linux with GE-Proton

Elden Ring is one of the best games I have ever played.
It recaptures of the magic of your first soulsbourne experience all while reinventing what the soulsbourne experience is. It's almost unbeleviable how enourmous the world of Elden Ring feels. Its takes the groundwork that BOTW laid and just busts wide open.
BOTW had some of the best open-ended exploration I had ever experienced in a game but where that game begain to fail was nearly everything outside of that exploration. The combat, story and dungeons in BOTW all felt like after thoughts compared to the world.
Nothing is an after thought in Elden Ring. The main story areas in the game are as impressive as the world itself. It has better quests than the previous soul games and the combat is still the true and tested FROMsoft design.
Places in Elden Ring feel like PLACES. The world feels like a WORLD.

Thank you Playstation gamers for beta testing Bloodborne for us.

DEATHLOOP is Arkane firing on all cylinders.
Transporting immserive sim gameplay & world design into a rogue-like design doc actually solves a lot of intersting problems that plagues the well worn genre. As much as I love immersive sims I pretty much play them all the exact same way - crouch walking through maps, quick-saving and quick-loading constantly. With DEATHLOOP having rouge-like elements and limiting your continues, it forces you to just go with the flow and deal with any situation that you find yourself in.
Sure - I feel like the AI is maybe a tad dull and a silenced pistol is still the most OP weapon of the immersive sime genre but I found myself experimenting way more in DEATHLOOP than I did in any other past immersive sim. The game encourages you and sometimes forces you to just say "fuck it".
I never had a loop go to waste - I never felt like I was wasting any time and to be fair, I never ran out of my three lives (even tho there were some close calls). But the game does such a great job at making sure you're always progressing some story path or uncovering some new information. The first couple hours are a little "hand-holdy" but the rest of the experience unfolds beautifully.
Everything in DEATHLOOP is expertly intertwined, everything syncs up. Nothing is a "perfect" experience but DEATHLOOP is an unforgettable one.

One of the most unique and memorable experiences I have ever had with a game. The first couple hours or so were a little awkward - you're juggling coming to grips with the game's controls, the game's structure, & trying to figuring out what exactly you should be focusing on.
What's wonderful about Outer Wilds is that no matter what direction you choose - you'll end up stumbling upon compelling world building and design. The story that unfolds so elegantly before feels so compelling because it feels that you are discovering. It doesn't feel like the game is just presenting information arbitrarily to you - you feel like you're making true discoveries.

I want to give it 5 stars, one of my all time favorite games, but I can't ignore some of the poor design choices near the back half of the game. But what an unforgettable experience.
My first Souls game, and the one that has always stuck with me. The continuous world that constantly expands & unfolds in front of you is the most impressive thing about this game. You actually feel like you are exploring a world, a nomad out by yourself. With every release in the series I always hope for them to go back to that continuous world, but I know they won't.

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