I’ve never been able to get very deep into Demon’s Souls or any of the thematically similar follow-ups developer From Software has become known for in recent years. The last time I seriously tried, delving into Dark Souls II in 2014, I documented the “maddeningly beautiful suffering” I endured while dying 65 times in an eight-hour slog to beat a single boss.
While that experience gave me some appreciation for From Software’s uncompromising game design, it was also enough to convince me that I didn’t have the temperament to pour dozens of hours into these sorts of games. I get why so many people find this unforgiving style appealing, and I’ve even willingly dipped my toes into From Software’s further catalog from time to time. But I just couldn’t overcome the frustration factor necessary to really commit to a deep dive into these meticulously crafted worlds.
Then the buzz began for Elden Ring, the latest game in what has become known as From’s “Soulsborne” style. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki promised in interviews that the new title would be more accessible than his previous From Software work, with quality-of-life improvements like more frequent checkpoints, easier health management, and an open world design that doesn’t gatekeep progress behind nigh-impossible bosses.
“I don’t want to enforce any playstyle or particular route because I’d like [players] to experience that sense of freedom,” Miyazaki said. “And I realize that while we offer games with a high level of challenge, we design them in a way that feels fulfilling to overcome.”