Elden Ring Review – Best Game . . . Ever?

Original artwork by Leona Moylan

Elden Ring was released to Xbox, Playstation, and PC on Feb 25th, 2022. It’s sold 15 million copies worldwide in the three weeks since its release, and it’s received universal praise from the public and critics alike. Elden ring is developed by From Software, a studio famous for Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro, and Demon’s Souls. 

Much like those previous games, Elden Ring is hard. It’s definitely not for everyone! But if you have the patience and skill to truly experience this game as I have, I can’t recommend you play it more. Elden Ring is what’s called a “Souls-like”. The term is derived from, you guessed it, Dark Souls! Souls-like games are best known for their incredibly high difficulty, which constantly tests the player’s skill, patience, and tenacity. They are also well known for their environmental storytelling. You won’t get the full picture just by playing. If you want to know the story, you have to really look for it. Most Souls-like games look and play very similarly too. Chances are, if you can play and understand one game, you’ll be able to play and understand any other game in the genre.

Other notable games in the genre include Code Vein, nicknamed anime-souls because of its art style. Another big one is The Surge, a techy futuristic Souls-like, very much unlike the dark fantasy settings you’d be used to in the genre. And finally Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order. A Star Wars Souls-like for crying out loud!

Elden Ring is built off of the foundations laid by Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. Taking aspects from each of those games, creating a new but also comfortingly familiar experience. Just like everything before it, Elden Ring emphasizes the challenge, the struggle to overcome that challenge, and finally the triumph over it. The game also controls much like the previous Dark Souls games, with your main strategy being dodging and weaving through attacks with exact timing until you can find the perfect moment to strike. But unlike every other game before it, Elden Ring encourages exploration of its world and the discovery of new items, strategies, and powers. You can always leave a difficult encounter and come back to it once you’ve grown more powerful. 

Another new thing that Elden Ring does is the ability to freely change the skills or “weapon arts” attached to your weapons. Each weapon art is unique and can provide powerful attacks, helpful buffs, and interesting effects. Along with changing weapon arts, you can also change what affinities your weapon has and what damage types it can do. Anything from normal damage, to poison, to magic, to holy, and even instant death! There’s no limit to how much you can customize your weapons and gear to perfectly fit your character and playstyle. 

Along with gear customization, Elden Ring also adds Spirit Summoning! Allowing you to summon the spirits of normal enemies you’ve defeated as allies. You can summon spirits during boss fights or especially difficult combat encounters to help give you that edge you need to succeed. Along with AI spirit summoning, you can summon your friends to help you conquer the challenges of the Lands Between.

Elden ring is about 50-70 hours if you ignore side content and exploration. With those, however, the game’s length can jump to hundreds of hours. There is a grand total of 120 bosses throughout the entire game, 17 of those being mandatory. Your character’s max level is 713. And there are thousands of collectible items, weapons, gear, spells, and incantations. The sheer amount of content to explore within the game is mind-blowing. There are so many sidequests and storylines to explore, some of them possibly completely changing the ending you get after defeating the final boss. Speaking of endings, there are six of them. Each one ends in drastically different ways and requires different paths to get them.

Much like Dark Souls, Elden Ring takes lots of inspiration from the dark fantasy story Berserk by the late and great Kentaro Miura. But due to Miura’s recent passing, the game takes so much more inspiration to try and pay tribute to the legendary manga author. An example is including characters that are directly inspired by characters in Berserk. A perfect example is Blaidd the Half Wolf Warrior and his inspiration, Guts, the main protagonist of Berserk. Blaidd’s design is heavily inspired by Guts while wearing his iconic Berserker Armor, wolf head and all. Blaidd also carries a massive greatsword, much like Gut’s larger-than-life Dragonslayer. “Massive, thick, heavy, and far too rough. It was much too big to be called a sword. Indeed it was like a heap of raw iron.” As a massive lifelong fan of Berserk, it just makes me love Elden Ring all the more.

All in all, Elden Ring is hands down the best game of the year, and it’s going to be a serious challenge to top it. With its massive open world, amazing gameplay, deep and powerful inspirations, and impressive visuals, Elden Ring just might be the best game ever made.

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