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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Game review: ‘Elden Ring’ refrains from tarnishing a legacy

elden+ring
elden ring

A new phenomenon has swept the world of gaming.
“Elden Ring” was released in late February to critical and popular acclaim. It has sold over 12 million copies in the intervening period, a feat comparable to modern gaming touchstones such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto V.
The latest effort by auteur game director Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware has taken the world by storm in a greater capacity than the “Souls” series ever dreamed of. The ways in which “Elden Ring” has accomplished this are staggering.
Miyazaki and story contributor George R. R. Martin created a world teeming with life, richness and places of interest. Then, they shattered it.
The Lands Between, the world in which “Elden Ring” takes place, is fraught with danger. Long ago, there was peace, until the “Shattering,” an event that destroyed the titular artifact. Descendants of the royalty fought over the pieces, and the world fell into ruin.
The player character is one of several “Tarnished,” a name that describes those called back to the Lands Between and continues the tradition of FromSoftware giving its players valiant names. The player must then travel across the Lands Between in search of these pieces of the Elden Ring.
Is it the most inventive story ever created? No. Not by a long shot. “Hero must rise from the ashes and overcome danger to recover a treasure” is a longstanding trope in high fantasy. What makes this use of the trope any different?
The answer is, in short, the story direction. “Elden Ring” is a truly open world experience, a first for FromSoftware. Sure, the game steers the player towards a set path of five to seven main bosses, but going off the beaten path has never been easier.
Exploration in “Elden Ring” is a thing of beauty. Around nearly every corner is a new challenge, new enemies and things to discover. It is recommended that one does not stray too far, as the game’s difficulty may punish inexperienced players who try to go too far, too fast.
“Elden Ring” is brutally difficult. This comes as no surprise to “Souls” vets who cut their teeth in Blighttown. But for those of us new to the genre, there is a learning curve. There is no difficulty slider or aim assist, only skill.
The good news, however, is that compared to other Soulslike games, this one is surprisingly accessible. Once the learning curve is handled, and you start to understand the mechanics and feel good about your skill level, the game … is still hard.
Roaming around and exploring the vast world gets easier. This acts as a clever way to lure the player into a false sense of security before the other shoe drops. There are 15 main bosses (some of which are optional) scattered throughout the biomes of the Lands Between, along with approximately 100 more optional bosses. These supersized enemies range from the simple, like the litany of dragons and knights one finds, to the epic and powerful. These main bosses can take hours of attempts to defeat.
FromSoftware has always had an eye for the dramatic and theatrical, and the main bosses here are no exception. Fighting your way through seemingly endless hordes to get to an area’s main fight is a one-of-a-kind experience. The fights themselves provide an air of authority and accomplishment. That accomplishment is deeply felt once a great challenge is overcome.
From the art direction to the gameplay, fighting the main bosses in “Elden Ring” is unforgettable. Tricky move sets, interesting dialogue and multiple phases make for truly awe-inspiring encounters. Each one of these experiences feels meticulously crafted and interesting enough to keep the player engaged and interested through those many attempts at victory.
The art direction is not only stellar during these main fights. The world and its varied scenery are breathtaking, but foreboding. The beginning area, Limgrave, feels like classic high fantasy, with lush and verdant flora. Branch out, and the player discovers areas like Caelid, a hell scape dominated by dangerous creatures and horror-like ambience, or Liurnia, a swampy marsh with sheer cliffs and the mysterious visage of a central building.
Story direction and storytelling take a leading role throughout “Elden Ring.” The game is not void of expository cutscenes, though they are few and far between, bucking the trend set by other popular RPG’s. The player must look for the story, in ambient details, words spoken by minor NPC’s and descriptions of the items and gear obtained during gameplay.
Do not let the difficulty and frustration turn you away. “Elden Ring” is a rewarding and deep experience. Miyazaki and Martin have created a unique experience, eloquently shown, rather than told. It is a worthwhile play-through, layered and marvelous. It may be intimidating for casual players, but take the leap, and journey to the Lands Between.

About the Contributor
Joshua Stewart, Former Life & Entertainment Editor
Joshua Stewart served as the Life & Entertainment Editor in 2022.
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Game review: ‘Elden Ring’ refrains from tarnishing a legacy