Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls are some of the most hardcore games I have ever experienced, and Elden Ring keeps that long-standing tradition alive. Most people will experience the ‘You Died” screen more times than they can count but believe it or not that is half the fun of playing. The player is immediately given their choice of 10 classes and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. I chose the Samurai not only because the class looks amazing to me, but also because it has a good balance of stats and strong starting gear. With my katana and shield in tow, I entered the lands between as a lowly tarnished, abandoned by grace but given a chance to seek out its light. The dangers of the game are immediately apparent and the first boss enemy made quick work of me. Having played many RPGs over the years my default strategy is to power level if I’m uncertain of a smarter way of beating a strong opponent. To some degree, this can be effective, but one can only go so far with the Rock Lee style of work ethic. One thing that a game like this requires is bullheaded determination, and luckily I’m no stranger to that. So I pressed on.
Early on every enemy seemed like a death sentence because not only could most enemies destroy me in two attacks, but they often appear in large groups or call for reinforcements. On top of that, it takes literally forever to heal. Like, I could make a sandwich and come back and my dude would still be healing. The controls feel tight and responsive, although I did have some issues with the camera in tight spaces. The good news is very early on you get a mount, which gives the player the opportunity to have increased mobility while still attacking. Given the amazing graphics, I found myself often exploring just to see what was around the next corner. The lands between at first appear to be scorched earth and not much else, but I found catacombs with skeleton soldiers, fought giant dragons, and even found myself knee-deep in a river of blood teeming with monsters. This game has some BIG baddies that will make anyone take pause and question their sanity for even stepping up to the plate. Waging war with my spirit summons and mount in tow made this nightmarish hellscape feel a bit less desolate. A bit less frightening. Then I made the mistake of playing with my headphones on. The sound was so immersive I could tell what direction magic attacks or arrows were coming from, which was useful, but the sounds of bones crunching under my weathered boots made my skin crawl at times. I’m still wondering how they managed to make such an experience feel so real.
If you play your cards right and build up your character with the correct tools, you can become a force to be reckoned with. Ashes of War are extremely powerful, granted some are far more useful than others. Mimic is an absolute game-changer, and I won’t say too much more so you can find out why yourself. The lore is rich and there are so many interesting side quests that the replayability of this game feels far and above the average game in 2022. Magic is extremely powerful so if you want to do explosive damage I suggest choosing a class with high intelligence, but if you’re like me and just want to live out your fantasy of being Gutts from Berserk then get your strength to 30+ and start slaying some demons! It’s also worth noting that Elden Ring has an extremely active online community so if you enjoy ganking noobs then this is the game for you. If PVP isn’t your bag, this mode can be turned off in the game settings but there are still NPC invaders that will simulate the experience. Rise up ye tarnished, and reclaim your glory!