So, you have lastly accomplished Elden Ring. After dozens of deaths to each one one in all dozens of bosses. After untold moments the place that infernal golden tree appears to be like prefer it’s simply over the forehead of the following hill solely so that you can get waylaid up a mountain – or for a complete new land to emerge between you and your purpose – your stunning, arduous journey is over.
The completion of a From Software program sport generally is a unusual time, the preliminary elation of victory fading into an existential vacancy as boss patterns in different video games all of a sudden appear somewhat too predictable, and quest markers in mainstream RPGs really feel somewhat on-the-nose (providing you with the sobering epiphany that the majority open-world video games actually do take you for a idiot).
However with Elden Ring already being FromSoft’s best-selling sport thus far, I’ve deduced that many – if not most – of its gamers are but to play its distant predecessor Darkish Souls. In the event you’re one in all these folks, then upon finishing Elden Ring there’s just one true strategy to fill that void (no, I am not speaking about Godfall).
Enjoying Darkish Souls after Elden Ring is not only a matter of ‘going again to the place all of it started,’ as a result of that would scale back the previous to one thing of a historic curiosity – an 11-year-old relic that is been improved upon and deprecated by the glimmering new blockbuster.
However the actuality is a bit more difficult than that, as a result of there’s nothing inherently superior about Elden Ring’s open world to Darkish Souls’ denser, extra restrictive one. And when you’ll initially be baffled by Darkish Souls’ awkward leap mechanics and lack of horse-based traversal, you may shortly see how this stuff serve the sport’s design (in addition to, one of many best methods Elden Ring pulled was making us consider that someway a horse and common leap button are groundbreaking options after they’ve been round for generations). If something, Darkish Souls’ omission and twist on such ‘protected’ options was way more ballsy for its time than Elden Ring is as we speak.
Upon awakening in Darkish Souls’ Undead Asylum, your muscle reminiscence from Elden Ring will kick in as you agree into the acquainted mechanics, and translate these Bonfires, Estus, and Souls into the Websites of Graces, Tears, and Runes that . That familiarity will circumvent a lot of the friction that prompted so many individuals to bounce off Darkish Souls when first making an attempt to play it again within the day. However past that it isn’t the similarities to Elden Ring that make it such a pleasure to play. It is the variations.
Darkish Souls is an especially dense sport; its claustrophobic, tightly-designed environs providing a outstanding distinction to Elden Ring’s dizzying sprawl. Exploring The Lands Between was one in all my most exhilarating gaming experiences in latest reminiscence, however it was additionally exhausting, and after that there is a chilly sort of cosiness within the Metroidvania structure of Darkish Souls’ world. It is comforting in a few of its old-school design sensibilities, but foreboding in a means that FromSoft’s newest outing cannot fairly replicate.
Darkish Souls ratchets up rigidity by way of each degree design and its distinctive use of the bonfire, which stays a checkpoint and supply of respite, however crucially doesn’t act as a fast-travel teleporter. The deeper you enterprise right into a given space, the additional and additional you are transferring away from security. There is not any going again, solely ahead into an ever-thickening darkness. After which, simply as you are drowning within the gloop on the backside of Blighttown or misplaced in a labyrinthine preserve, you may encounter a bonfire to indicate you that you just’re on the fitting path, rekindling your hopes. These Bonfires actually imply one thing in Darkish Souls; they’re glimmers of consolation on harmful expeditions you could’t simply zap your means out of.
Darkish Souls’ expeditionary really feel elevates the importance of Firelink Shrine – your solitary sanctuary in Darkish Souls. Its sombre sense of homeliness is bolstered by it being a tangible place on the earth that you just’re all the time heading out from and in the end weaving your means again to. Elden Ring’s equal, Roundtable Maintain, has a vibe for certain, with its glowing fires and rhythmic clinking of the blacksmith at work, however the truth that you’ll be able to solely entry it from a map display screen (and the truth that you are able to do this nearly anytime) detaches it out of your journey, and makes it that bit much less valuable.
In any case, it is arduous to lengthy for a spot when you’ll be able to all the time pop again in for a cup of tea and an viewers with a few large mangled fingers. In Darkish Souls, you may typically go for hours with out the house comforts of Firelink and its world-weary inhabitants, and man is it a reduction if you lastly make it again. Pushing on by way of a dungeon in Elden Ring nearly all the time appears like a selection, an act of curiosity and exploration; in Darkish Souls, it is a matter of necessity, and that provides it a whole lot of gravitas.
The contrasting worlds of those video games inevitably have a whole lot of knock-on results, like boss design. Elden Ring’s end-of-area bosses usually current vital problem spikes, forcing you to surrender, go off, degree up, then return if you’re stronger, whereas the vast majority of Darkish Souls bosses are designed to be fought as you get to them. There’s nearly no grind, giving the sport a sublime movement and pacing, and with a playtime of round 50 hours or so there’s by no means a way that it outstays its welcome.
On a sidenote: the Darkish Souls PC servers have been down for an excellent few months now following a serious safety breach, however there’s one thing to be mentioned for the solitude of offline play after the infinite clamour of Elden Ring – the crimson spirits of different gamers on horseback comically leaping off cliffs, the misleading ‘hidden path’ and tedious ‘fort evening’ messages. I can not converse for Darkish Souls on console for the time being, however it appears protected to think about that the smaller on-line communities over there are much less chaotic and meme-driven than in Elden Ring (which feels somewhat overpopulated).
Your Ring-Souls transition ought to be a comparatively easy one, however do not get complacent. It is no energy journey, and being pelted by poison within the bowels of Blighttown or shot off a ledge in Anor Londo 20 instances by that shit of an archer is sufficient to go away the sturdiest souls feeling Hollowed. However all these classes you picked up in Elden Ring about warning, endurance, and timing put you in good stead to sort out Lordran.
The identical will be mentioned to an extent of Darkish Souls’ sequels and Bloodborne, all of which deserve a run-through. However there’s an inimitable magic to the unique Darkish Souls, and its variations to Elden Ring make it excellent for former Tarnished searching for new function.