Why ‘Elden Ring’ Won ‘Game of The Year’ in 2022

Developed by the masterminds behind Bloodborne and Sekiro, ‘Elden Ring’ stands as a testament to the merging of a distinctive action RPG formula with the vastness of an open world. It’s a harmonious marriage, akin to the collision of ‘Dark Souls’ and ‘Breath of the Wild,’ and the end result surpasses expectations. The game unfolds with the familiar elements—deep combat, intricate systems and lore that dances between beauty and melancholy—all set against the backdrop of an expansive world beckoning to be explored.

The initial premise of ‘Elden Ring’ may seem commonplace, a dark fantasy realm named the Lands Between, bound by a shattered ring and a missing goth queen. In the wake of this chaos, overrun by monsters, ghouls and an overwhelming sense of discord, players assume the role of a Tarnished—an undead being with the singular purpose of restoring order. Crafted in collaboration with George R.R. Martin, the initial world concept introduces a narrative structure reminiscent of the best open-world games, providing a basic trajectory while allowing ample room to deviate and craft one’s own destiny.

Image Courtesy: NPR

What truly elevates ‘Elden Ring’ beyond the realm of typical gaming experiences is the meticulous creation of its world by FromSoftware. It is not merely expansive; it is a tapestry woven with diverse landscapes, mini-bosses lurking in the shadows, and breathtaking scenes that unfold with each new discovery. The game transforms exploration into an integral part of the narrative, with every adventure contributing not just to character growth but also to a profound understanding of the game’s intricate tapestry.

Despite the seemingly daunting scale of the Lands Between, ‘Elden Ring’ manages to strike a delicate balance. The true scope of the world only reveals itself gradually, allowing players to acclimate to its grandeur. With a spirit horse companion and strategically placed “sites of grace” serving as both save points and fast-travel locations, the game facilitates traversal and ensures that exploration is not a daunting endeavour. These elements seamlessly intertwine with the narrative, adding layers of depth to the melancholic stories shared by the characters populating this expansive realm.

Yet, ‘Elden Ring’ is not without its eccentricities. From solving puzzles with talking trees to summoning giant floating jellyfish, the game embraces a delightful weirdness that keeps the experience fresh and unpredictable. Even within the framework of an open structure, the core tenets that define FromSoftware games—tense and rewarding combat, colossal and terrifying bosses—remain intact, ensuring a sense of familiarity amid the vastness.

In embracing a more accessible approach, ‘Elden Ring’ demands not just attention but time, a commitment that transcends the boundaries of a typical gaming experience. It evolves from a mere pastime into a consuming journey that becomes a lifestyle. After 40 hours, the game’s grip remains firm, and the realization dawns that the game is not merely a game; it is an immersive odyssey that continues to echo in the player’s thoughts even when the controller is reluctantly set aside. 

As the sun sets over the Lands Between, the allure of adventure persists, beckoning players to delve deeper into the mystique of Elden Ring’s expansive world.

-Britney Jones