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Elden Ring should not get a pass for its terrible story – Reader’s Feature

Elden Ring should not get a pass for its terrible story – Reader’s Feature
Elden Ring – its story is certainly not straightforward (pic: Bandai Namco)

A reader complains that despite Elden Ring being their game of the year its storytelling is poor and not even From Software understand it.

As far as I’m concerned, Elden Ring is easily the game of the year, to the point where I don’t feel there’s any need to discuss the issue. However, there is one thing I would like to talk about and that’s the story, which I think is awful. In fact, I’m not even sure you can say there is a story, because most of it is very easy to miss unless you do some obscure side quests. And even when you do it still doesn’t make any sense – literally, because they managed to translate the most important ending completely wrong.

I’ll make sure not to include any spoilers here but, really, I’m not sure how you spoil a game that doesn’t even seem to understand its own plot. Things start off with you being told that the Elden Ring has been shattered and that you are a Tarnished trying to put it back together. You’re never told what the ring actually is (it’s not something that fits on your finger) and you’re never told what a Tarnished is, in fact you’re never told anything ever, at any point.

I should emphasise that I do love Elden Ring and that actually I wasn’t surprised by this approach to storytelling, as it’s just how it works in Dark Souls and From’s other games. I don’t know why though, as I don’t feel it adds anything and Bloodborne is made much better by the fact that you do vaguely get a feeling for what’s going on.

In Elden Ring though I have no idea. None of the cut scenes explain anything and most of the descriptions and background lore comes from item descriptions. These have been picked over and analysed by various fans (I especially like Zullie the Witch ) but even their detailed investigations reveal little concrete information and several contradictions that seem to suggest that even From didn’t understand it.

If you’re a From fan, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that none of the endings explain anything either. In fact, the ending starts with a reference to a plot point, regarding the demigod Radagon, that you will only know about if you’ve completed one specific side quest, with a very obscure solution, and even then it’s not really clear what it means.

When you do finally beat the last boss – which is a great battle – you then get to the endings, which, surprise, surprise, explain nothing. There are multiple endings, but most are just minor variations on the same one, different only depending on which outer god you back. The most interesting one, and the one I consider the definitive ending, is with Ranni, the most charismatic character in the game.

The problem is none of it makes a lick of sense and I haven’t got a clue what she’s going on about. And then I found out that neither did the translator and that the whole ending has been mistranslated and basically means the exact opposite of what it says.

Mistakes happen, you might think, especially in a difficult language to translate like Japanese, but have From bothered to patch it? No. Apparently they don’t care that their story is literally incomprehensible and don’t consider that to be important enough to fix.

Imagine if there was a translation error in a foreign version of Star Wars and Darth Vader told Luke he was an unrelated stranger, you’d think that would get fixed pretty quick. Not with Elden Ring, which I take as an admission that From know the story is rubbish and there’s nothing to really fix.

Maybe they don’t think that literally – to be honest I can’t imagine how they see any of this – but the end result is that the best game of the year has the worst story (well, maybe not worse than Saints Row).

Ultimately it doesn’t matter that much, since it’s clearly not that important, but a good story would only make a great game even better. I just hope that with whatever From do next they prioritise clarity and meaning as much atmosphere and tone. A story doesn’t have to be straightforward but if even the people writing it don’t understand then you’ve got a problem.

By reader Thompson

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. Just contact us at [email protected] or use our Submit Stuff page and you won’t need to send an email.

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