Though they were founded in 1986 and produced many gems throughout their lifespan, (Tenchu series, Armored Core) they became known for their challenging fantasy games. Demon souls was a catalyst for not just the company, but for the gaming world. The concept of this game in black and white was to surpass challenging levels and enemies, requiring patience, skill and several new controllers (sorry mum).
Though frustrating at the best of times, the rush of overcoming a challenge that took multiple attempts is the true treasure gamers earned. This basic concept of overwhelming challenge combined with the RPG elements of levelling stats proved to be a winning pairing. FromSoftware sailed this ship with every entry into the soul’s borne universe, growing the formula and enhancing it with each entry. The fruits of this labour are non-other than Elden Ring, and after close to 30 hours now played, it’s safe to say I can see how FromSoftware’s previous entries lead to this masterpiece.
Elden rings mechanics are the best starting point for this discussion, as there is enough familiarity from classic Souls games such as Demon Souls and the Dark Souls trilogy. However, later titles such as Sekiro and Bloodborne have had a greater sense of verticality and flexibility, which is also recognized here.
The style of combat down to its core belongs to the earlier titles, showcasing a simplistic format of attack, block or roll. This is complemented by new weaponry and additional skills, crafting a new layer to every battle that is completely customizable. It goes without saying that you can see the similarities between Demon Souls and Elden Ring, however, this is a formula with years of lessons and knowledge added on. It is by far the most customizable and stylish combat that we have seen within the souls borne series, and it owes its roots to the likes of Demon and Dark Souls.
Bloodborne laid the foundation for the Souls fans to stop hiding behind their shields and start becoming more aggressive by creating a health regeneration system. Although this isn’t present within Elden Ring (bar a weapon or two), the feel for needing to be aggressive is still very present. Enemy patterns can be very taxing and leave very little room for both mistakes and opportunities. The key here, which was taken directly from Bloodborne, is the punishment of enemies during these windows of opportunity. The study of an enemy that you can’t defend is second nature here, and that was taken directly from the playstyle of the tentacle filled Bloodborne.
Finally, we have Sekiro, a massive push in a completely different direction and style in comparison to its Soulsborne brothers. It’s no secret that Elden ring is not just more open in a sense of the area, but also the verticality and approach to scenarios. This was tested and proved to be a successful venture through Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Introducing the verticality of a shinobi within the world crafted by FromSoftware was a questionable move to some, and my how wrong they were.
Sekiro introduced an approach to the problems players have battled with for years within the Souls games. Allowing stealth to become a core mechanic through crouching in tall grass, giving the option for sneaking past or executing enemies from the shadows. The ability gained by the grappling hook, although not present in Elden ring, lead to scaling structures. Feeling like much more is accessible through some planning and some skill, this concept was certainly born from Sekiro.
Although there is far more detail within this world that can be traced back to the journey FromSoftware has taken, Elden ring is its own game. There are many features that were born here and will probably go on to enhance future titles. But it can’t go unnoticed that this world was evolved through the various ideas that created masterpieces before it, and I for one can’t wait to see where they go from here.
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