Elden Ring has rekindled the flame of adventure - editorial

Elden Ring has rekindled the flame of adventure - editorial

Since Elden Ring came out, there is nothing else in my circle of friendships linked to the world of video games. There are those who are getting lost in the depths of the Interregnum, there are those who are sweating seven shirts to tear down the monstrosities of Castello Grantempesta, and there are above all those who, following long periods of pause, have found in the work of FromSoftware the only reason to go back to turning on the console, in some cases years after the last time.

We could find dozens of reasons behind the incredible success of a creative philosophy historically destined for a small niche . After all, it has already happened over and over again, there are excellent examples, as in the case of Monster Hunter at the time of the release of World, or of The Witcher with the advent of the third episode, or even of Skyrim, which following the successes of Fallout has gathered an unprecedented audience under the banner of The Elder Scrolls.

The first data speak of a title capable of placing a number of copies alien to its size, imposing itself in markets such as the UK on par of giants such as FIFA, Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption 2, while most of the indicators suggest a record debut week that - according to some listed analysts - would have made FromSoftware's work touch the threshold of 10 million units sold.

A world suspended in time in which to move as archaeologists, historians and pioneers. We could find dozens of esoteric reasons behind this exploit, we said, but the impression that emerged from the first feedback draws a situation in which Elden Ring was able to hit a goal that open-world video games were missing from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that is to rekindle the flame of adventure and the passion for discovery, giving meaning to the boundless worlds that now lazily characterize much of the medium's production.

The idea of ​​riding towards the horizon without the aid of any indicator, without being in front of a golden and already tiled path to reach a predetermined destination, without the slightest idea of ​​what is hidden in the depth of a castle or beyond a simple elevator, has returned to the FromSoftware experience a flavor that very few works have been able to pass on over the years.

That feeling that the pioneers of the sector remember from Adventure, that many in their thirties have lived wandering in the Hyrule Fields of the first chapters of Zelda in three dimensions, which the most determined have cyclically rediscovered in the confines of historically "niche" productions, such as Shadow of the Colossus, Gothic or Dragon's Dogma, works that have managed to convince the players not to be inside a world born from the determinism of programming.

A dark fantasy inspiration that knows p or comparisons. The "real" adventure, the one that Shigeru Miyamoto has repeatedly celebrated by recounting the raids he lived in his childhood, when he wandered through the countryside of the village of Sonobe: climbing a hill he discovered a lake, in the shade of a willow tree. 'stumbled upon a cave, moving away from the beaten path always encountered an unexpected surprise not marked on the maps.

At first glance, it might seem that Miyazaki's creative philosophy, to achieve this result, was forced to sacrifice the weight of the narrative. It is often discussed about FromSoftware's fiction: many consider it an embryonic form of writing, something that has yet to complete its maturation process to take on the characteristics of a traditional "script", in order to communicate a great story. to the public in addition to the extraordinary experience that accompanies it.

In our opinion, however, this is not the case. In Elden Ring the player is not the protagonist of a song of deeds, he is not the main actor of a kermesse, but a historian, an explorer who first of all sets foot in the boundaries of an ancient lost city, revealing the mysteries of ancient civilizations. Like an archaeologist who for the first time crosses the threshold of an Egyptian pyramid and accumulates elements to reconstruct its history, so FromSoftware's video games constantly place us in front of mosaics to be recomposed piece by piece in unknown lands.

A hymn to traditional adventure, in its freest and purest form. The Interregnum is a "Middle-earth" suspended in time but without a Fellowship of the Ring to act as a protagonist, a world in which to move hungry for knowledge to reveal the past of Rivendell, the fate of Moria and the mysteries of Minas Morghul without the help of a conscious narrator. Operations that, at the same time, can only be carried out after completing the incessant climb that the Japanese house persists undaunted in placing one release after another in front of the player.

This is also an element that has done and continues to make video game enthusiasts discuss, so much so that difficulties and learning curve have now become topics on the agenda in the sector. Why doesn't FromSoftware bow to the growing demand for more challenge level adjustment options? Perhaps it is an elitist study willing to oppose the enlargement of its potential catchment area?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to explain it to those who have not personally experienced the growth path that gives a soul unique to the studio's works, but if deprived of the characteristic learning curve these would collapse like house of cards, in the same way that most likely they would not withstand the eradication of the "historical" narrative approach in favor of the forced grafting of a "contemporary" plot.

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It is ironic, in fact, that over the last few years dozens of authors have tried to replicate the magic of the soulsborne originals trying to stage "soulslike" unsuccessfully, mistakenly identifying the secret of the genre's success behind the crude component mechanical, while the work that has come closest, that is Hollow Knight by Team Cherry, is the one that more than any other has moved away from the technical formula of Myazaki to embrace its essence instead.

Precisely because of this essence, it finally came out of its nchi a, Elden Ring will have a devastating impact on the market as Breath of the Wild had years ago: if starting from 2017 no open-world title has managed to bring home important awards, Miyazaki's latest effort could inaugurate another cycle. An era that will result in the inevitable sense of inadequacy that will cloak the productions anchored to the modern tradition of the genre, and that will probably one day lead to the emergence of another work capable of re-harnessing this very rare spirit of adventure.

Maybe it will be Starfield, who this autumn promises to take us to a sci-fi universe like never before, or maybe we will have to wait at least another five years before feeling at home on the shores of a world virtual. What is certain is that the Interregnum has opened its gates, welcoming many enthusiasts, but also many people who no longer seemed able to find their own place beyond the melancholy veil of modern interactive adventures set in open worlds. And it is possible that, following the story of the Ancestral Ring, the flavor of open-world experiences is destined to change forever ..

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