Elden Ring: Review

Tarnished gazing out into the dark and foggy distance – Image Credit: CNET https://www.cnet.com/tech/gaming/elden-ring-is-a-much-bigger-game-than-you-think-it-is/

Although it won’t be everyone’s favorite game from studio Fromsoftware, the sheer scale and breadth of content alone present in Elden Ring justifies the asking price for any fans of Dark Souls, or even new players who are interested, and know what lies ahead. Simply put, Elden Ring is nothing short of a triumph.

First, a quick disclaimer: Elden Ring is not for everyone, despite its improved accessibility and new-player friendliness compared to Fromsoftware’s previous games in the last decade. If you are going into this game expecting an experience that is less challenging and esoteric than any of those previous titles, then you will probably be disappointed.

After you, a lowly tarnished, disgraced by the divine powers of the world, wake up and climb out of your grave–and the tutorial–you are free to go whenever you want in the strange place that is the Lands Between.

The open world offers all sorts of activities: bite-sized mini dungeons and caves, sprawling interconnected levels known as legacy dungeons, and plenty of interesting and wacky encounters on the way to these destinations. Although not all are equally substantial, these events hardly ever cease to be fun or at least interesting. 

For example, I once came across a rat with glowing orange eyes who began to fill up this menacing orange status meter near the middle of my screen with every attack. To my horror, the bar continued to fill even after I had been damaged, and when it inevitably filled, my character instantly lost all of their health while clutching at their eyes, which were now shooting glowing orange lighting at the sky. Now, was that an enjoyable experience? No, but it was amusing, and it definitely made me want to go back and explore further in that area.

Serendipitously stumbling into your own player driven stories is the one of the most appealing aspects of Elden Ring’s gameplay. The other is getting curb-stomped into the floor by the same world that staged those stories, and loving (almost) every second of it.

I say “almost” because there are some instances where enemies, especially bosses, will pull tricks that make the fight seem a bit less fair.

I’m talking about bosses who will read your button inputs to attack you while you are stuck in your healing animation, even if they were simply pacing one moment prior. I’m talking about combo attacks which come out so quickly that they catch you after your brief moment of invincibility when you roll to dodge even if you evaded the first attack perfectly. I’m talking about fights where, antithetical to From software’s appraised design philosophy, you do not feel like you and your opponent are working with the same capabilities.

This issue isn’t a deal breaker of any sort, but it is something that grew in my mind the more I played, and dragged down my enjoyment in some instances.

But taken in its totality, Elden Ring is a truly great game, one that I will be happy to put many more hours into in the coming months, and one that is certainly worth its price of $60. The game is available for Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Steam.