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Elden Ring [The Playful Asmo]

Started by Asmodean, February 28, 2023, 01:43:06 PM

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Elden Ring released in 2022. (FromSoft/Bandai Namco, PS4/5, XBox One/Series X/S, PC, played on Xbox Series X)

While not exactly a new release, I thought it deserved a review.

Elden Ring is an open world third person hack-and-slash ARPG (Action Role-Playing Game) from the (in)famous Japanese developer FromSoftware. The game takes inspiration from the developer's prior successes - the Dark Souls series and had some lore help from George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame.

The world of Elden Ring is vast and beautifully crafted. The story of the game is not told much - there is relatively little dialogue and the game encourages you to explore and figure out both what happened to the world you find yourself in, what makes it tick and your and the other characters' place in it. The game won't hold your hand much - if you prefer to focus on the action, beat the last boss and reserve the bragging rights for having finished a game, made by a studio renowned for their disdain for "easy mode," you can do that. Or, if you are so inclined, you may crawl through every dungeon, collect every piece of loot, spend hours reading item descriptions, arranging things on a detective board and building up a mental picture of the full story.

My way of playing lies somewhere in-between. Still, for those inclined, there is a 9/10 story to be found there.

Technically, the game is solid. The combat and exploration system is largely intutitve and offers variety, unlike that of the closest chronological comparison - Sekiro. The developers have also been patching the bugs out of it for quite some time at this point, but also re-balancing some encounters. I'm not a huge fan of some balancing choices made, but I suppose it has made a game more well-rounded, so I'll give the technicals 8/10. It would have been a nine, but for the game being a little overwhelming at the very start - you crawl out of a dungeon and into the vast, open world of The Lands Between and... What? It may take a bit of time and frustration to figure out what threads to follow, where and how. Still, I think that was a conscious choice on the part of the developers, and they had good and valid reasons for making it.

Another thing the game does early, is teach the player to pick his battles. If something early on looks like too much of a challenge, for a new (to the genre/FromSoft) player, it probably is. Find out the hard way... Or not.

The voice acting is mediocre, with some exceptions. It does help, I suppose, that there is just not a lot of talking in the game's universe. A 5-ish out of 10 there.

The characters are... A lot of them are about as boring or interesting as you make them. Most denizens of The Lands Between are antagonistic to the player, but among the NPCs (Non-player characters) there are fascinating stories to be discovered by the dilligent. There are some lengthy quests, too, which in turn shed more light on the underlying story. Characters of note are Lunar Princess Ranni, White Mask Varre, Bloody Finger Hunter Yura and Shabriri - all offering varied insights into The Lands Between through quests and encounters. Antagonists of note... Ooh. Every single named one, more or less. Marika/Radagon, the god of the current age, Malenia and her twin brother Miquella - the latter being a bit of a mystery, which may be answered in an expansion down the road, Morgott the Omen King and his incarnation who, if one digs into the lore, has quite a tragic story ark, having been spurned by the current order - and finding himself among its last and staunchest defenders. There is a lot to say there, though little that can be said without going even deeper into the spoiler territory.

I give the overall character design a 9/10.

The multiplayer aspect of the game centers around "invasions," where your game world gets invaded by a rival player. Personally, I find it immersion-breaking and generally opt out. There is, however, also the possibility of summoning other players to your aid if you find a particular boss just a little too troublesome. If luck is on your side, you may end up summoning someone who will basically just kill the boss for you without much assistance. Overall, I give the multiplauyer a 3/10, but I do not weight this category anywhere near as heavily as the others in my final verdict.

In conclusion, it being a FromSoft game, Elden Ring is difficult for beginners and/or those who do not want to spend time optimising their character, squeezing every bit of extra armour and damage through the use of items and potions, etc. I mdid not find it anywhere near as frustrating as Sekiro, but in the end, I also enjoyed Sekiro a little more (Sekiro being one of my very few 10/10s after a second play-through, even with the boss fighting fatigue taken into account) - and got more of a sense of accomplishemnt for having beaten the game. It's a 9/10 - for the right player.

Tl;DR: Can recommend? Yes, but. Yes, if you like a challenge or are a skilled/stubborn enough gamer. Probably not if your gaming experience is limited to Candy Crush.
Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on July 25, 2013, 08:18:52 PM
In Asmo's grey lump,
wrath and dark clouds gather force.
Luxembourg trembles.