Elden Ring is closer than ever: during the Summer Game Fest we were able to see its first trailer with gameplay material and a release date. It is time to dive into a very promising world, but if you are attentive, you will see that it has many references and connections to Dark Souls and other worlds from FromSoftware.
It almost seems a lie, but officially and after two years of waiting, we have a gameplay trailer and release date for Elden Ring. The new game of FromSoftware had given a lot to talk about so far, countless memes and tears shared by all the followers of Hidetaka Miyazaki and his dark fantasy worlds. If you are among them, congratulations, partner: it is time to gloat watching the video of the Summer Game Fest over and over again until you are exhausted. Doing so will undoubtedly come to mind many parallels with the first Dark Souls and it’s normal! It is literally designed for that.
Let us remember – because this information is long overdue – that the Elden Ring is deeply rooted in Dark Souls. This is also true for the rest of the IPs that FromSoftware has worked on in recent years, that is, Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice; but in this particular case we are talking about something deeper, more strongly rooted in Lordran and its surroundings. “In terms of gameplay, it is heavily based on Dark Souls,” commented the director of the game at the time. “Anyway, that does not mean that it is played the same. With such a large and vast environment, the combat ends up becoming something totally different.”
Today, we found that the similarities go a bit beyond the gameplay and span across the story, character designs, tropes, and even characters. artistic themes. It can be a bit difficult, but if you stop the Elden Ring gameplay trailer and think about each scene, you will surely find many connections to the most recognizable game in the entire FromSoftware catalog. You do not believe me? Well, let’s take a look at it together, see if you agree with me. Bear in mind, of course, that in the end we are talking about subjective perceptions that may differ from one fan to another, and that’s fine! Honestly, I think all Dark Souls fans will be happy to read each other and find more and more similarities, connections or parallels between both games.
Hunt for the Elden Circle
Let’s start with the first scene, minute 0:04, where we only see the hand of a character in an unconscious state. A horse snouts him, and then a hooded female figure dismounts to wake him up with a sinister prophecy. This scene is reminiscent of the opening cinematic of Dark Souls II – that was not directed by Miyazaki, though – at a time when we only saw the protagonist’s hand, also on the ground, in the rain. Same plane, practically. Video games usually connect the player with his avatar through a similar state, such as drowsiness, in their first sequences. Think of Chell from Portal 2 or Link in pretty much every Legend of Zelda. So the video begins with what is clearly the first awakening from the hero to the arms of the new priestess.
All FromSoftware RPGs have this character in common: the lady in black from Demon’s Souls, the guardian of the shrine from Dark Souls, the doll from Bloodborne, you know. Each of them lives at the service of the player, helping them to level up, announcing their role in the story or guiding them, albeit in a very cryptic way. It seems safe to assume that this character will be back in the Elden Ring, but what is our mission this time around? Get hold of the ring that gives the game its name, of course, and become Lord of the Circle, from the perspective of a “tarnished”, something like “tarnished” in Spanish, but whose official translation seems to be “Sinluz”; a title in the vein of many others that we have seen in the souls-like of the Japanese studio, such as “adalid de la ceniza”, for example. It is the designation with which other characters refer to us, but it is also a weight. “They will fight and die, in an endless curse“says the prophecy there at 1:35.
That curse is strongly rooted with the theme of the creative’s magna, of course, and also with its symbolism. Let’s make a point here. Did you know that one of the original Dark Souls names was Dark ring? It was changed, curiously, to avoid coinciding with a British vulgarism for the anal cavity. Be that as it may, the idea here is that the name paid homage to the dark circle that surrounds the logo. A circle has no beginning and no end, so it is a good way to represent a curse that prevents you die altogether. If you go to the end of the trailer, you will see that the game’s logo is complemented by four interlocking rings linked by a vertical line, perhaps alluding to the government of the Middlelands, which is where the game is set.
Since you are on that screen, notice that this piece of art – which in journalistic jargon we call “key art” – the protagonist plunges his sword into the ground and falls before it, as if representing the fatigue that his task entails. It’s very similar to various pieces of concept art from (again) Dark Souls III. At this point, anyone would think that the game might as well be called “Bright Souls”, right? Joking aside, I think it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind. The first is that, according to the minute 0:20, the Sinluz “will return, guided by a lost grace” which means that they have existed before, at some point, within the Elden Ring universe. The second is that there is an omnipresent contrast between black and gold in all scenes, all text breaks. Check it out at minute 0:07 and the impact of the fire on the lady’s cloth, the golden light that bathes the text immediately afterwards. I think this detail is very beautiful on an artistic level: gold traditionally represents glory and divinity, while black in this case is a comfortable backdrop, a coat of primer paint or a canvas on which it is built everything else.
In the world of the Elden Ring, the ring (Elden Circle) is the source of all that golden color, and also the fuel that powers the Golden Tree. In English, that tree is called Erdtree, a term that clearly comes from “tree” and “Erd” (land in German). It’s funny, because the entity that used to guard the Midlands is called “Queen Marika, the Eternal“And Marika is also a name of Germanic origin. The connection that there is with the culture and history of this part of Europe is something that we will have to disentangle little by little, but that has been seen in countless castles and fortresses in the series.
Dark Souls and Berserk Tropes
Now, it’s time to get conspiranoic because we are going to look for all the references, inspirations and imaginable details that may be in the trailer. Do we hit the nail on the head and are these really the ideas that FromSoftware has had when creating the characters and the world of Elden Ring? Well, we don’t know, but it’s still fun to speculate. There are some that do not give much room for doubt, go. Think, for example, of the creature that appears at minute 1:40. Due to its pose and wolf theme, it is very reminiscent of Beast of Darkness, which is the representation of Guts’s fury in the Berserk manga. The work of the now deceased Kentaro Miura has a brutal influence on the Dark Souls saga as explained by our colleague Adrián Suárez, a great enthusiast of this universe of dark fantasy. Do you know what other idea may have gotten “borrowed” from Miura? Hands. If you think there may be a connection between Manus and the Hand of God, maybe you can find something sinister in your own appendices.
Beast of Darkness (Berserk).
I think hands are a good fit in the world of horror because, in a twisted way, the movement of the fingers can resemble the legs of a spider and the action of grabbing or dragging things also has a dark side. Maybe that’s why there are several enemies in the Elden Ring trailer with hand shape or with several hands. In Dark Souls there are also some of the style, like the creature called Monstrosity of Sin. Absolutely gruesome. Another situation with a very clear inspiration is that of the dragon wielding a lightning bolt at minute 1:51. The dragons They have a very deep background in Dark Souls, and this scene is powerfully reminiscent of the first’s intro cinematic. In that era Gwyn who used the weapon, curiously, to fight dragons. By the way, in that game you could do the same with a miracle called “lightning spear”. Well, you get used to the kind of similarities we’re looking for, right? Well that. Below you will find some, perhaps more subtle or that fit with tropes of the most successful Miyazaki saga.