By Jason Quinn / August 6th, 2020
Elden: Path of the Forgotten is a 2D action game that takes very direct inspiration from Dark Souls. Slow attacks and movement, a stamina bar that dictates how much you can attack, run or dodge, the usual stuff. Unfortunately, I can’t think of much new stuff that this game brings to the table. The story starts off with basically no preamble. I can’t say anything meaningful about it because there just isn’t anything there. You’re thrown into some mysterious world and have to fight through monsters to accomplish…something. The Steam page of the game says you’re adventuring across a blighted land to save your mother from ancient horrors. The narrative takes more of a backseat in the game itself. For what it’s worth, this is just my own opinion of the game, and some other folks might not agree with me.
The visuals in this game seem nice at first, but it isn’t before long that problems of simply parsing the environment come into play. When the scenery is full of dense trees, its really hard to tell where you can actually walk and where you can’t. Not to mention, the trees obscure your character, and of course obscure any enemies you happen to be fighting. You still can see a silhouette of them, but it’s hardly ideal.
The sound design is also particularly grating at points. The footsteps your character makes I can only really describe as obnoxious. Rain effects sound like someone balling up a piece of paper. The portion of the game I played lacked music as well, so there’s just little to appreciate here in this department. Attack sound effects when you hit an enemy sound fine, but combat has other, much worse problems.
You have but one attack, and at the start you have a few different attack options, the sword, the spear, and the axe. Your sword has a standard slash, the axe has basically the same thing but is slower and hits harder, and…I’m not sure what the spear does. If it has a longer range, then I was unable to tell. Your attack range in this game is pitifully short. The hit detection is also so incredibly wonky that you can be mere pixels away from an enemy, and the attack just misses for some reason.
The enemy design in Elden is pretty unremarkable, pretty much consisting of things that run directly towards you, or things that shoot you from afar. This game also puts a heavy emphasis on combat, which is baffling considering how very little there is to it. You can occasionally get locked into combat rooms where you have to fight what seems like a dozen enemies or more. With combat that feels slower and more limited than Dark Souls, a game where engaging with even three enemies can be dangerous.
To make matters worse, your movement speed is extremely slow, for no discernible reason other than that’s just how Dark Souls is. Yet, your movement feels even slower here. The problems don’t stop, to cap it all off, the only way the game visually communicates that you’ve hit an enemy is a simply unacceptable amount of screen shaking. I’m not one to get nauseous at screen shaking, but with how aggressive it is, and how frequent combat is, it’s shaking all the time. It is incredibly disorienting. You can turn the screen shaking down, but as I said, it’s kind of crucial to the combat design. Even with it turned down as far as it would go, I still think it’s far too much. Oh, and also the same screen shake is how the game informs you that you’ve been hit as well. So combat just kinda becomes a mess of pixels shaking around on the screen.
I just did not have fun with Elden, and with nothing to go on in terms of story, premise, characters, etc., I feel little desire to look into it more. The combat in Dark Souls was never its main attraction for me. So a game that just takes the combat, makes it slower, and adds more of it, just doesn’t work out. There’s a lot of Souls-like games out there making waves, but Elden: Path of the Forgotten is maybe a ripple.
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