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Elden Ring gets caught into the trap of the open-world design: bigger always means better.
There is a sense of discovery in the first 20 hours or so, where you slowly uncover the elements that form the world (characters, enemies, levels, systems...). Many of them are well-known by now, as everyone has pointed out, given their iterative nature. But it's in how is iterated that I think lies the magic of those first 20 hours. The caves, dungeons and mines are my favourite part, having to keep your lantern with you at all times, not knowing where those little assholes will come you from. Little passages, some secrets, a nice boss battle at the end and out. A little adventure in the midst of all that grandiosity.
Sadly, those 20 hours of discoveries and secrets comes to an end rather abruptly, when the iterative becomes repetitive. The same locations, the same enemies, the same bosses, the same items, the same strategy, the same vistas. A boring mosaic. All the magic got swept away for the sake of squeezing all those hours that become junk.
There is much more than just small dungeons, of course. The rest is an extension of dark souls 3, not dark souls 1, with very big and intricate castles, and at the end a stupidly giant mega boss awaiting to be slayed and make a fucking super epic moment, which in many cases read as very similar encounters. I would lie if I'd say that i didn't enjoy (very much enjoy) some of those battles, mainly Radahn and Rennala. They offered something more varied and interesting than just battle, and very refreshing.
Dark souls games have been compered to Berserk ad nauseam, pointing at all the homages and references to Miura's biggest work. It is considered that Dark Souls 3, even this one, kept some of the spirit of the manga faithfully. Recently, I was once again listening to Susumu Hirasawa's ost for the anime while re-reading the manga, and when this song started https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZa0Yh6e7dw, I realised that we view Berserk through different lenses, because there is no moment in all Elden Ring that even resembles this.
If that wasn't enough, I've also been replaying Dark Souls 1 at the same time, and it's really jarring the comparison. People destroyed Dark Souls 2 for not capturing the essence of the first one, but I now think they only meant the world wasn't fully interconnected, because Elden Ring is nothing like the first one in the worst ways! DS1 gets much better the spirit of Berserk, the melancholy of a dark and twisted world, full of violence but with traces of hope to continue. Some of the characters you meet along the journey are too cynical to keep going, some of them still hold the will to go forward, many will fall into despair, madness and death, but every single one of them are bound to the strength needed to dream a different future. The idea that the world is not going to die this time. Some still believe it, some stopped believing a long time ago. You yourself keep persevering in a world that has died so many times that it doesn't make sense anymore. Buildings are not going down, but the concept of architecture itself is fading. Ugliness can be felt in the colors of the walls, in the faraway trees and landmasses. Elden Ring is too concrete and clean to show that ugliness, and is too convoluted with power plays to make character interactions tragic or memorable (also, maybe having much more characters doesn't help). The only exception is the woman's hug in The Round Table, something that could perfectly have been in DS1.
I read someone explaining the game as "imagine the moment in DS3 when you saw Irithyll for the first time. That's Elden Ring all the time", implying that it was something great. For me, it's not. I got saturated of so much "beauty", so much brightness, so much clarity, so many perfect compositions that it didn't strike me anymore. Since you are going to be traversing a world for a long time, they decided to make STUNNING VISTAS all the time, every time. An attempt to naturalistic open-worlds. In Spanish, there is a word that perfectly describes my sensations: relamido.
Yes, the gameplay is obviously good. Its the previous games with more weapons, which translates in fun ways to approach fights. But I find pretty underwhelming that the thing this game has going for is what people criticise constantly: polish. A bigger and uniform forest with polished trees.
Maybe I'm being more harsh with this game than with any other, but seeing the comparisons with previous games and Berserk, and spending maybe 70 hours with no moving or alienating experiences unlike the previous ones, has made me more bitter towards this spouting of thoughts. Beware games, don't make me play for that long.

Few people in this industry (or any industry, mind you), are so commited to constructing so complicated narrative paths and rythms, in order to tell the most naive and sincere emotions about human connection.
Won't ever understand those who insist on labelling Kojima as a frustrated filmmaker who turned to videogames and doesn't care about the gameplay. He has proven himself time and time again on both fronts, and Death Stranding's gameplay is inseparable to his aspirations with the game as a whole. Incisive, complex and reaching for new grounds.
The final credits come to an end, with the names of the other porters that have aided you on your journey. There's so much stuff you've built together without realizing.

This game is difficult to assign a rating to, since it's hardly a game. The atmosphere, art, dungeon synth soundtrack and minimalist storytelling are all extremely well-executed.
It's a game where you wait for 400 days. In real time. There are areas in the game that you can't get to for at least a month or two after starting.
You can have the shade wander (slowly walk lol) around the subterranean castle, grow plants in real time, find objects to furnish his bedroom with, read the entirety of Moby Dick (for real), and a ton of other things that I don't want to spoil.
My biggest complaint is that there are ways to increase the flow of time, so that the game doesn't literally take 400 days to play. This isn't clearly communicated, so I spent a lot of time thinking my game was glitched, or the timer was wrong.
A fantastic and atmospheric anti-idle non-game

I don't even know how to describe how this game hit after spending a year indoors. I know part of why it was so effective for me was the timing of when I played it, but it’s absolutely masterful at conveying its feelings of isolation. I still find myself missing checking in on the little Shade.

Totally reactive, going head-on at danger, with only the will of a mighty monke and the power of jazz at your side. A formal achievement

Another classic Frog Detective story, but this time in a much cooler setting, big fan of the notebook inclusion and Lobster Cop lore. Very looking forward to the next instalment.

Paradise Killer is the "not like other girls" of games but in, like, the cool trans girl way, not the internalized-misogyny way? I can truly say I have never played a game like it and I don't know why any of it works. Why is every single character name so cool? (Lady Love Dies! Lydia Day Break!! Carmelina Silence!!!) Why does Doctor Doom Jazz live on a yacht? Why is the soundtrack such a banger, with the most satisfying end credits music I have ever heard in my life? Why does a Phoenix Wright investigation-slash-courtroom sim have fun 3D platforming and exploration in it? I don't even know why cruising around this brutalist vaporwave death cult island is so enjoyable, the collectables are mostly pointless, but there are just so MANY of them (an absolutely bonkers profusion) that no matter where you go, you always feel like you are uncovering something.
That the gameplay works is something of a miracle, but then there's the fact that the story is good. Don't ask me how the developers pulled this off. Writing a good mystery is hard enough, but setting your mystery on a transdimensional island ruled by a cult of immortals dedicated to resurrecting Lovecraftian horrors with names like "Silent Goat" through human sacrifice...presents, uh, another set of challenges, I imagine. In most games, a world this wild would be the mystery, and the whole game would be a boring lore hunt. There is lore in Paradise Killer, but none of it really matters, and once you acclimate to the general weirdness of everything (which is admittedly a pretty steep hurdle at first), the mystery itself is surprisingly easy to follow, although there are lots of layers to it, and even some intriguing ethical dimensions, which are not deeply explored but make the story more thought-provoking than you might expect from a game that initially seems to not be about anything more than its own bizarre dedication to an aesthetic.
I am convinced Paradise Killer must have been made under the auspice of some capricious but temporarily benevolent alien deity, because a game this audacious at every level should not work. I kept waiting for some overreach or misstep to bring the whole thing tumbling down—the quirk that broke the camel's back—but it never came. Playing this game is like watching Icarus gleefully flip off the sun and fly acrobatic circles around it because it turns out actually he's a psychic vampire possessed by a demon trapeze artist or something. It is miraculous and delightful and kind of freaks me out and I'm glad there's only one of them.

The final frontier
Many people wish they could forget the game to enjoy it once again, but I don't believe the game's appeal dissapears after just one time. The travelers will still be there.
I was this close of dropping it in more than one occasion, due to some obtuse as hell puzzles and conditions. I'm glad I didn't, because now my future second playthrough will be more manageable, more focused on the stuff that hit me: the connection, through music or tangled languages in walls.
The physics are omnipresent, space is insurmountable and worlds hold strange secrets. Whenever you may be lost, you can always tune to any planet and listen to someone. You'll talk to them, listen to a banjo 10k miles away from you, and you'll know you're not alone.

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