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REVIEW: Elden Ring — Spiritual Successor?



Published by: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developed by: FromSoftware
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows PlayStation 4 PlayStation 5 Xbox One Xbox Series X/S
Genre(s): Action RPG.
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer
Game Type: , , , ,
96/ 100

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Tremendous interconnected open-world scale. Bursting with content. More accessible without compromising challenges.


Some convenient UI implementations from previous games seem to have disappeared. Drop rates on non-arcane builds are abyssmal.

Posted February 23, 2022 by

Personally, I’ve been a fan of Demon’s Souls since 2009, but it wasn’t until the release of Dark Souls, its spiritual successor, in 2011 did From Software finally break mainstream. It created an entire genre around the series, unleashing a torrent of games that can only be described as ‘souls-like’.

Dark Souls went on to wrap after two sequels, and though the games that followed – Bloodborne and Sekiro – were both remarkable titles that deserve their own pedestal, the crown of spiritual successor remained vacant… until now. As Demon’s Souls was to King’s Field, and Dark Souls was to Demon’s Souls. Elden Ring truly felt like the evolutionary next step to a true Dark Souls spiritual successor.


Gosh Tarnished!

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Elden’s got some of the best looking hair quality I’ve ever seen in a modern game

You are Tarnished. A perished being resurrected to answer the call of grace to traverse the Lands Between and claim yourself Elden Lord. Beyond that, nothing else about Elden Ring can be simplified in exposition. Like a 1000 piece puzzle, Elden Ring is riddled with little snippets of lore scattered across the absolutely massive play space. Individually unremarkable, little snippets of lore litter the massive world of Elden Ring, expertly piquing your curiosity and encouraging you to scour for more. Slowly, you’ll begin to unravel not only more of the grand overarching plot but also a deeper understanding of the Lands Between and those who dwell them.

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For veterans, this is well established (and expected) combination of storytelling and world-building that we’ve come to know the games for. But with a world built by the sick minds of Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin, and the unprecedented scale of Elden Ring, this is on a level, unlike anything we’ve seen from the studio (or arguably any other game) before. Moreover, lore that you discover from items, landscapes, and other characters didn’t seem to be as cryptic as we’ve come to expect from the studio. The effect is more cohesive and intelligible storytelling, despite the scale.

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The Legend of Elden: Breath of the Souls

Bandai Namco claims Elden Ring’s gameplay to be ‘genre-defining’ and I would’ve called it pretentious if I didn’t actually agree. In the sense that Elden Ring’s gameplay is largely rooted in Dark Souls from which a few meaningful updates were implemented.

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Multiplayer retains all its coop and PVP goodness without many convolutions in how to access it.

Three notable ones are jumping, stealth, and Torrent, a spectral steed for quickly getting around. The addition of jumping isn’t new (Sekiro) but it allowed Elden Ring to explore combat and level design beyond Dark Souls’ grounded framework. There’s a new sense of verticality and platforming in exploration but also new angles of approach in combat. Stealth is another such approach. Though it’s a simple addition of hiding spots and a dedicated crouch button, a more deliberate stealth mechanic is a refreshing alternative to picking off enemies with a barrage of arrows from a safe distance (although tbh, you’ll 100% still be doing this).

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You can sneak around encampents to pick as many enemies off first before inevitably getting noticed.

All these seemingly minor changes enabled Elden’s massive open-world, but getting lost in a Souls game sucks. We’ve all been there, so it’s understandable to be worried, but thankfully Elden Ring does an excellent job of subtly guiding you without completely holding your hand, supplemented too with a simple but gorgeous world map. Oh, and there’s crafting now, too!

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The locales in Elden Ring has enough atmospheric variety to stay interesting for hours on end.

The action RPG elements in Elden Ring will feel somewhat familiar to anyone who’s played a Dark Souls game before but with a few new welcome additions to your repertoire. For instance, weapon arts (skills unique to a weapon) can now be swapped out for another. Though there’s still a limit as to what kind of Arts you can swap, this still adds a deep layer of versatility to your arsenal. You can now also swap weapon attributes from any sites of grace (the game’s equivalent to DS’ bonfire). This was an ingenious and very convenient way to combat excessive grinding for rare upgrade materials just to invest in multiple weapons of various attributes. You also have Great Runes which are essentially an ultimate move, usually in the form of a latent passive buff that you could activate to grant a significant boost to your character at the cost of rare material.

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You don’t have to engage in every encounter.

Backstabs and Parries are still here but joining the list of devastating punish moves are guard counters. This is done simply by doing a heavy attack immediately after blocking an attack yourself. This is a great tool to interrupt combos or punish a staggered enemy. I personally didn’t find much use to this outside of the usual thralls as it’s generally not a good idea to try to interrupt a strong enemy, but I can see huge potential for this in PvP encounters to discourage players with playstyles focused on pressure.

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One of many interesting characters and scenarios you’ll encounter through exploration

Lastly, I want to touch upon the game’s difficulty. Though the game certainly retains the punishing difficulty the series has been famous, or infamous for, they’ve made a few changes that make the game more accessible. But in my experience, this is mostly due to the scale of the world and not to ponder to a more casual audience. For instance, you can still get killed within seconds after making the mistake of blinking 0.1 seconds slower than optimal, but most of the time, there are convenient sites of grace or stakes of Marika to respawn from that are usually relatively close by. You can summon spirit animals to help you in fights, but only in certain areas, meaning if you can summon them, you were meant to, and vice versa. Horseback riding is great for tackling groups and avoiding slow-moving enemies, but realize that there are horseback riding enemies, too. (and even grizzly bears the size of a house that not even your magical goat horse can outrun)

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Boss battles can be hellish ordeals, but nobody said they can’t look immaculate, too.

Sites of Goodness Gracious

Elden Ring’s most defining attribute is its massive, fantastical open world. Not only for its tremendous size and sheer scale but also for its abundance. I’ve played over 40 hours at the time of this review and have barely scratched the surface of this sprawling, spiraling, mythic world. There are loads to discover and overcome, all of which are an absolute joy to explore, even when sometimes the quality of the rewards don’t match the effort spent.

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Elden’s open-world retains From’s signature interconnected level designs.

There will be many a breathtaking moment to slow down and take in the Lands Between and all its splendor, despite the game not relying heavily on superior graphical fidelity but on sheer atmospheric composition alone. I now have a new answer whenever I get asked what game to bring when stuck on an island.

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Sites of grace are much more accessible and commonplace compared to their bonfire counterpart.


Elden Ring delivers. The wait was not in vain. It’s a grand adventure brimming with discoveries, challenges, beauties, and sheer fun. It’s a true spiritual successor to Dark Souls, introducing meaningful new concepts to the formula that for the most part are delightfully welcome. There are hundreds of hours to be had in the vast, smartly interconnected complexities of the Lands Between. Souls fans will be playing Elden for years, and what it’s been able to deliver so far makes me excited at the notion of what more it could bring.

Souls fans don’t need my recommendation, but for those who are even remotely a fan of Action RPGs, if there was ever a time to attempt a ‘souls-like’ game, now is the time.

[This review is based on a retail copy of the game, provided by the publisher]

Dian Raval

Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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