Elden Ring Review – The Rise of the Tarnished
From Software has maintained a level of quality that is rarely seen in other developers. They have been consistent in their game development, and while it may appear that they are following the same formula, they do try to diversify it. Their most ambitious experiment thus far is Elden Ring, a massive open-world game on a scale unseen since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Consider the Dark Souls series, and then consider how the same formula could be used to create an open-world game inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s design elements. This is where Elden Ring enters the picture. It is a game that experiments with the hardcore masochist gameplay that From Software is known for. On the surface, it appeared to be a risky approach, but based on the result, it worked out extremely well.
Elden Ring isn’t your typical open-world game. It does not guide its players to the next object by holding their hands. On the world map, there are no objective markers to direct you to quests, important locations, or the next story mission. What happens is that you are thrown into a mysterious world with no guidance, and as perplexing as it may sound, Elden Ring’s allure is in figuring out this world. It doesn’t help that the world is brilliantly designed, with challenges around every corner. It also encourages exploration and pushes the player’s skills to their limits.
You play as a ‘Tarnished’ who is allowed to travel to The Lands Between and claim the title of Elden Lord. In the traditional From Software fashion, you are greeted with an opening cinematic that explains some of the world’s lore but does not provide an overarching view of the plot. It is up to the player to figure out what happens next by speaking with the NPCs and then piecing together the various story threads themselves. The NPCs make significant revelations that shed more light on what goes on in this world.
Because there is no journal or objective maker, keeping track of the various plot threads is a task in and of itself. Quests must be manually tracked or else they are easily forgotten due to their abundance. Depending on the type of player, this can be a problem or a blessing in disguise, but I did enjoy the freedom of giving the players their own choice. You can simply proceed to the next boss fight in Elden Ring if you wish, but there is a good chance that you will be defeated. I rushed to fight the first major boss, Margit, near the Castle and was dealt an embarrassing defeat, forcing me to reconsider my strategy.
The game encourages the player to learn from their mistakes, and if they hit a wall, there is always the option to retreat and go someplace elsewhere it is possible to gain better loot, harvest for runes to improve a level or two, and then go back and try again. This is why Elden Ring isn’t like any other game. Even if you end up power leveling to defeat enemies, you must remain vigilant and analyze their attacks to determine their weaknesses. It is a game of skill and determination that never hides the true challenge that it contains.
The game’s ambiguity is also a problem. While the game will guide you to where you need to go next, simply going there is suicide. Elden Ring essentially throws you into an open world where you must judge your abilities. This is felt right from the start when the game doesn’t throw a tutorial at you but instead hides it in a corner. If you’ve played any of the previous From Software games, you might not have any trouble getting through the basics, but for newcomers, this is an essential learning method, and the fact that it’s hidden away, in the beginning, reinforces the idea that From Software wants the player to learn the basics the hard way.
As we set out into the first open area, we come across a threat in the shape of an opponent named Tree Sentinel, who is riding a horse. It’s one of the greatest instances of teaching the player the fundamentals of game design. When they become inquisitive and approach the opponent, the tree sentinel immediately begins targeting them and may easily one-hit kill the player. It is especially evident in the initial boss battle, which essentially prepares the player to die. It’s a From Software hallmark that they’ve employed in prior games, and Elden Ring amplifies it several notches.
Several new gameplay components have been incorporated by From Software in Elden Ring. Players may now invoke spirits to aid them in battle, and they can now ride a steed around this vast open environment. Elden Ring appears to have several large open areas, parts of which are equivalent to a single game produced by From Software. The game’s expansiveness becomes a strain at times, yet the open world is so mysterious and lovely to explore that there is never a boring moment. However, because the game does not track any of the missions or objectives, manually logging them in an old-fashioned manner is beneficial and improves the whole experience.
No matter if you are a beginner to the series, Elden Ring is a great place to start. Spending some time on it might help you overcome some of the more tough games. As a result, Elden Ring is not only accessible but also challenging. The game does not lose its uniqueness to appeal to a larger audience, but rather broadens it without any disadvantages. From Software, in my opinion, has not only made a wonderful open-world game with Elden Ring, but they have also discovered the formula for delivering their classic experience.
Elden Ring Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: From Software
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher