The dark fantasy genre has millions of fans around the world. It’s freely used in video gaming, encompassing a dark culture with all kinds of creatures and dangers lurking around each corner. It has been tried and tested many times before, but many will say nowhere better than in Elden Ring. FromSoftware’s major hit was looking great from the get go. For years, we’ve been treated to trailers that showed off the extravagant dark fantasy world that was crafted to perfection. Compared to more earthly RPGs, this isn’t a world of fun. It’s a world of hurt, and that’s precisely what makes it so clear.
A Place of Darkness and Danger
Does life imitate art or is the other way around? That’s a question for philosophers, but we can definitely say that video games imitate life. Many of them allow you to simply have fun with side-activities in a world that’s deeply rooted in reality.
For example, you can play casino games in the GTA series. Life also imitates video games. For example, the Warlord slot is inspired by popular games such as MOBAs including LoL. However, Elden Ring doesn’t imitate life or other games, instead going with a hellish rendition of a place of darkness and danger.
And that’s one of the best things about it. The utopian hellscapes of Elden Ring are nothing short of mesmerizing. From the creatures to the spots you get to uncover on the map, every location is rooted in dark fantasy not many minds can think of. You can thank director/writer Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) for it. Both have crafted an epic that comes once in a decade (or even rarer). If you take a look at their portfolio, it’s clear that Elden Ring is a perfect amalgam of their previous works.
Miyazaki is a creative director, writer, and designer who also acts as the director of FromSoftware Games. It’s the studio that previously gave us other punishing dark fantasy gifts such as Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. His pedigree with these games is unmatched. But, in order to craft the perfect dark fantasy setting, he sought a writer with an even larger resume.
George R.R. Martin may have trouble finishing Winds of Winter, but he found the time to contribute to Miyazaki’s masterpiece. He gave it just the touch it needed to become a pure dark fantasy masterpiece which stands head and shoulders above any Soulsborne game.
Gods and Demigods, Creatures and Monsters
If there’s one thing that gives birth to the dark fantasy genre, it’s the creature design. There’s no shortage of those in Elden Ring. They are rooted in real animals such as octopi, bats, wolves, dogs, and even dragonflies, but ‘corrupted’ beyond recognition. And it’s beautiful. It’s clear that the design has been well thought-out, with excellent detail and elements for each. Where standard fantasy games portray them in a neutral or friendly light, Elden Ring’s creatures are grotesque and scary.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a dark fantasy game without supernatural creatures. Those include walking skeletons, toxic corpses, slimes, revenants, zombies, and even tree spirits. You’ll meet many when exploring the lands between, while also meeting all kinds of gods and demigods.
The gods in Elden Ring are not kind or friendly. That goes double for the Outer Gods. They aren’t kind, don’t want to do anything good, and are out there to destroy you and life itself. Just take a look at the Formless Mother who craves wounds. Or the demigod Malenia which is probably the most feared and advertised entity in the popular video game. You mostly meet these characters as tough bosses with supernatural powers and weapons that can bring the YOU DIED screen faster than you can say demigod. It’s considered as one of the most difficult games ever, so if you’re new to the genre or want to complete 100% of this gigantic game, consider using this very optimized Elden Ring Platinum Guide.
The truth is that Elden Ring is possibly the leading game in this genre. It fully embraces the dark fantasy genre, crafting a world of danger where you always have to be on your toes. It truly feels like an amalgam of previous efforts, mostly of the Soulsborne genre. However, the atmosphere and world crafting is on a different level in Elden Ring, making it one of the finest video games of all time – not just in the genre.