The Shattered Elden Ring Thread: Tarnished Edition - (Shadow of the Erdtree p. 85)

sXeth

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I understand people who criticize FROM games for their ambiguity are those most accustomed to videogames centering around them, their being the center of a linear tale (even if that world is a non-linear one.) FROM games are those in which the player is incidental. They are tasked with bringing themselves up to speed because FROM worlds don't care that you're in them or what you do in them; you have to make yourself a part of the larger narrative, and that begins by finding a thread and following it wherever it might lead you. Or not. That's the beauty.

Yeah, 5 games deep in about a chosen one resetting the world with the game playing out identically (minus build choices) sure sounds like non-linear and the PC isn't the main character.

I digress though, because I don't criticize FROM for the ambiguity, so much as the people that try and fill in that ambiguity with their own writing (whether that is good or bad) and then proclaim it is not ambiguity, but mastercrafted world building.

Given all the games tend to include an outcast or disassociated group, overthrowing an established order and tradition that has caused some kind of catastrophe, and often rebuilding the world by literally scorched earthing the "old way". I don't think the writing is unclear or lacking in substance. I'd refrain from deep analysis but since these themes are generally writ across much of JRPG space I suspect its specific to their culture, and the catastrophes are probably analogs to the the atomic bombs. The good endings being anarcho/nihilist probably speaks to an expression point that can only be expressed in the subtley because Japan is, to my knowledge, fairly heavily consertive and enmeshed in business.


Even if a sword WAS owned by Rannis second cousin once removed, who was eaten by a dragon who was then slain by an legless frogman who brought it to the Haligtree.... that doesn't add anything to this.
 
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Xprimentyl

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Yeah, 5 games deep in about a chosen one resetting the world with the game playing out identically (minus build choices) sure sounds like non-linear and the PC isn't the main character.

I digress though, because I don't criticize FROM for the ambiguity, so much as the people that try and fill in that ambiguity with their own writing (whether that is good or bad) and then proclaim it is not ambiguity, but mastercrafted world building.

Given all the games tend to include an outcast or disassociated group, overthrowing an established order and tradition that has caused some kind of catastrophe, and often rebuilding the world by literally scorched earthing the "old way". I don't think the writing is unclear or lacking in substance. I'd refrain from deep analysis but since these themes are generally writ across much of JRPG space I suspect its specific to their culture, and the catastrophes are probably analogs to the the atomic bombs. The good endings being anarcho/nihilist probably speaks to an expression point that can only be expressed in the subtley because Japan is, to my knowledge, fairly heavily consertive and enmeshed in business.


Even if a sword WAS owned by Rannis second cousin once removed, who was eaten by a dragon who was then slain by an legless frogman who brought it to the Haligtree.... that doesn't add anything to this.
Let's reduce it further and say they're nothing new or impressive because we're still just using controllers and keyboards to hit buttons and make the things on the screen do things.

I would argue that FROM games are both ambiguous AND feats of master-crafted world-building. I think achieving a level of engagement with players that finds them exploring, discovering, discussing and speculating with each other years after release is an impressive accomplishment. Most games I've played I was content to complete once, and the vast majority of those, I had nothing to say or consider once I was done, i.e.: I saved the princess, saved the world, slayed the dragon, and my experience was identical to that of likely everyone who played those same games. Did I enjoy them? Sure. Were they remarkable in the literal sense of the word? Mostly No.
 

sXeth

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Let's reduce it further and say they're nothing new or impressive because we're still just using controllers and keyboards to hit buttons and make the things on the screen do things.

I would argue that FROM games are both ambiguous AND feats of master-crafted world-building. I think achieving a level of engagement with players that finds them exploring, discovering, discussing and speculating with each other years after release is an impressive accomplishment. Most games I've played I was content to complete once, and the vast majority of those, I had nothing to say or consider once I was done, i.e.: I saved the princess, saved the world, slayed the dragon, and my experience was identical to that of likely everyone who played those same games. Did I enjoy them? Sure. Were they remarkable in the literal sense of the word? Mostly No.
I mean, if I laid out my chronology of DS3, I'd be impressed if you found anything signfiicantly different in yours (other then we maybe swapped order on killing the Giant and the Twin bois. DS2 of course had its very Zelda-inspired 4 bosses to open the castle thing but within that context not a lot varied. DS1 I forget which things you could specifically swap but would generally fall into the same mold.

I killed the four great souls/lord souls/lords of cinder/demigods and went to the designated out of time and space Nexus point to fight the last/first person that did this tirck and they turned into a somewhat more abstract person to fight and then we rebooted the world. If I remember to talk to the right people 12 times at the correct intervals then I get to choose the other option for a different cutscene in which we reboot the world.

Is there a variance? To some degree, any sizable game for instance has side quests generally, particularly in the RPG space. Very few (or probably none) that have a story will allow much true deviation. OH, you'll get alternate endings or your good/evil path but the game will playthrough the same at the end of the day. New Vegas has the same overall variation in the story as Mass Effect 3, just presented infinitely better and not albatrossed by a decade of hyping how it would be different.

The discussions you mention are hardly unqiue or even rare to Souls. Warframe has its share of lore folks, so does Monster Hunter (which is almost impressive how far they stretch two words on the description of a pair of pants), so does Deep Rock Galactic, No MAns Sky, Destiny. Almost every game that isn't essentially a would-be movie with some gameplay segments (A la the Last of Us, and I wouldn't be surprised if theres still some would be lore videos out there trying write fanfiction of random audiologs or whatnot)


I wouldn't say that Dark Souls is unclear on "what" is going on either. The chosen Hollow/Ashen/Tarnished kills all the demigods and relights the flame/rebuilds the rune/etc. Its staggeringly simple and the reason people think its vague is that its staggeringly simple when they're used to plots about 3000 year old conspiracies and love interests and politics. Which Souls has no time for. It was in its early, hype, often cited for being a back to basics approach owing more to NES or SNES games where the story was there to move you along, not for us to wonder what grand motiviation the Belmonts had for hunting Dracula or the like. Maybe you are an actual chosen one, or maybe they nicked the subversion from Morrowind (in itself nicked from Ultima) where the chosen one is whoever fulfills the prophecy and there is no rhyme to it other then "First person who tries and succeeds)


The only real vaguery of any import in them is what one interprets the Flame/Elden Ring to actually represent. As noted above (and semi-consistent across a lot of JRPGs) it mostly seems to be an abstractionism of by and large, tradition as a concept. In a fantasy RPG, that typically manifests as religion, as that sort of thing was dominant in those eras. Dark Souls settles with exiles/outcasts doing the job rather then a motley crew of neon-haired teenagers with too many belts, and (thankfully) eschews a lot of the nonsensical self-regurgitating writing that usually weighs other JRPGs down but sticks prettymuch on the same path. The fanbase for whatever reason feels compelled to try and add a bunch of nonsensical self-regurgitating writing to it, which in itself wouldn't be a problem if people didn't keep posting these fanfiction-adjacent things into any actual discussion of the games story.


Mechanically in a "gameplay" progression and layout, and order of things its prettymuch just straight cribbed off Zelda, by the creators own admission. Most evident in Dark Souls 1 which literally clones "get the things to unlock the not-actually final area which then unlocks then the second set of real dungeons" structure of Link to the Past and Ocarina. Which is fine, its a structure that works (which is why Nintendo used it for like 35 years)
 
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Xprimentyl

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I mean, if I laid out my chronology of DS3, I'd be impressed if you found anything signfiicantly different in yours (other then we maybe swapped order on killing the Giant and the Twin bois. DS2 of course had its very Zelda-inspired 4 bosses to open the castle thing but within that context not a lot varied. DS1 I forget which things you could specifically swap but would generally fall into the same mold.

I killed the four great souls/lord souls/lords of cinder/demigods and went to the designated out of time and space Nexus point to fight the last/first person that did this tirck and they turned into a somewhat more abstract person to fight and then we rebooted the world. If I remember to talk to the right people 12 times at the correct intervals then I get to choose the other option for a different cutscene in which we reboot the world.

Is there a variance? To some degree, any sizable game for instance has side quests generally, particularly in the RPG space. Very few (or probably none) that have a story will allow much true deviation. OH, you'll get alternate endings or your good/evil path but the game will playthrough the same at the end of the day. New Vegas has the same overall variation in the story as Mass Effect 3, just presented infinitely better and not albatrossed by a decade of hyping how it would be different.

The discussions you mention are hardly unqiue or even rare to Souls. Warframe has its share of lore folks, so does Monster Hunter (which is almost impressive how far they stretch two words on the description of a pair of pants), so does Deep Rock Galactic, No MAns Sky, Destiny. Almost every game that isn't essentially a would-be movie with some gameplay segments (A la the Last of Us, and I wouldn't be surprised if theres still some would be lore videos out there trying write fanfiction of random audiologs or whatnot)


I wouldn't say that Dark Souls is unclear on "what" is going on either. The chosen Hollow/Ashen/Tarnished kills all the demigods and relights the flame/rebuilds the rune/etc. Its staggeringly simple and the reason people think its vague is that its staggeringly simple when they're used to plots about 3000 year old conspiracies and love interests and politics. Which Souls has no time for. It was in its early, hype, often cited for being a back to basics approach owing more to NES or SNES games where the story was there to move you along, not for us to wonder what grand motiviation the Belmonts had for hunting Dracula or the like. Maybe you are an actual chosen one, or maybe they nicked the subversion from Morrowind (in itself nicked from Ultima) where the chosen one is whoever fulfills the prophecy and there is no rhyme to it other then "First person who tries and succeeds)


The only real vaguery of any import in them is what one interprets the Flame/Elden Ring to actually represent. As noted above (and semi-consistent across a lot of JRPGs) it mostly seems to be an abstractionism of by and large, tradition as a concept. In a fantasy RPG, that typically manifests as religion, as that sort of thing was dominant in those eras. Dark Souls settles with exiles/outcasts doing the job rather then a motley crew of neon-haired teenagers with too many belts, and (thankfully) eschews a lot of the nonsensical self-regurgitating writing that usually weighs other JRPGs down but sticks prettymuch on the same path. The fanbase for whatever reason feels compelled to try and add a bunch of nonsensical self-regurgitating writing to it, which in itself wouldn't be a problem if people didn't keep posting these fanfiction-adjacent things into any actual discussion of the games story.


Mechanically in a "gameplay" progression and layout, and order of things its prettymuch just straight cribbed off Zelda, by the creators own admission. Most evident in Dark Souls 1 which literally clones "get the things to unlock the not-actually final area which then unlocks then the second set of real dungeons" structure of Link to the Past and Ocarina. Which is fine, its a structure that works (which is why Nintendo used it for like 35 years)
That was a lot of words to argue the semantics and particulars between "unique" and "exceptional." I hope this has brought you the form of validation one feels from holding and voicing a differing opinion from someone else on the internet.

My POINT is that Souls games, in their very intent ambiguity, offer immersion beyond the on-rails, "aim the pointy bit of a weapon at targetable offenders until credits roll" experience of a lot of other games. I hear a lot of detractors who fault Souls games for being unclear on a micro level, i.e.: of course you are a "chosen one," but there's a lot of depth to explore that, yes, does not substantially affect the immediate gameplay, but does appreciably offer players more to chew on than "beat last boss, win whole game," and I feel it's an unnecessary criticism. I don't like ketchup; you won't find my reviews on any of your favorite "ketchup" restaurants.
 
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Silvanus

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That was a lot of words to argue the semantics and particulars between "unique" and "exceptional." I hope this has brought you the form of validation one feels from holding and voicing a differing opinion from someone else on the internet.

My POINT is that Souls games, in their very intent ambiguity, offer immersion beyond the on-rails, "aim the pointy bit of a weapon at targetable offenders until credits roll" experience of a lot of other games. I hear a lot of detractors who fault Souls games for being unclear on a micro level, i.e.: of course you are a "chosen one," but there's a lot of depth to explore that, yes, does not substantially affect the immediate gameplay, but does appreciably offer players more to chew on than "beat last boss, win whole game," and I feel it's an unnecessary criticism. I don't like ketchup; you won't find my reviews on any of your favorite "ketchup" restaurants.
Isn't the 'chosen one' title a deception anyway? You're not actually special-- Gwyn, Gwyndolin and Frampt have spread the myth to encourage Hollows to take the pilgrimage and kindle the flame. Its a ruse. And it's also why you run into a bunch of other people who've also been instructed to go ring the bells or whatever.
 
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Xprimentyl

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Isn't the 'chosen one' title a deception anyway? You're not actually special-- Gwyn, Gwyndolin and Frampt have spread the myth to encourage Hollows to take the pilgrimage and kindle the flame. Its a ruse. And it's also why you run into a bunch of other people who've also been instructed to go ring the bells or whatever.
That's the beauty part. If you follow the obvious "on-rails" path of the game, yes; you're falling into the trap as laid by those seeking to prolong the age of fire. Elsewise, you can renounce that "destiny" and let the age pass on. Both are equally valid endings, and both equally ambiguous, i.e.: we finish the game knowing neither what a prolonged age of fire nor the ushering in the the age of dark means. The fact that we're still talking about it 12 years after that game came out and in multiple iterations of their formula since is a testament to the world(s) FROM has crafted for us to engage in.

That's what I mean when I say the player [character] is incidental in these games. They serve as but a vessel through which we experience worlds in motion, with wheels moving and machinations at work that don't require our immediate understanding to affect them, but the complex lore is there in abundance for a better appreciation. That's a valuable part of these games, but many would complain that people "fill in the blanks" with disparate explanations to excuse some deficiency in storytelling they ostensibly have. I don't expect everyone to like or appreciate Souls games, but when those people want to level criticisms because "they don't do what other games do," it just ruffles my feathers, because those same people would complain if they did play out like a Skyrim, the only differentiating feature being the much higher difficulty.
 

hanselthecaretaker

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Isn't the 'chosen one' title a deception anyway? You're not actually special-- Gwyn, Gwyndolin and Frampt have spread the myth to encourage Hollows to take the pilgrimage and kindle the flame. Its a ruse. And it's also why you run into a bunch of other people who've also been instructed to go ring the bells or whatever.
Yeah it’s straight up exploitation, where even “winning” in the end by making a choice regardless of NPC influences doesn’t necessarily mean much other than “Ok, new thing/same thing, different age.” Endings are the least interesting and most generic thing about these games imo. A minute or two long cutscene displaying a scripted outcome is a moot point next to the journey getting there.

That could be a theme in itself. The journey vs the destination in gameplay kinda echoes the lore concept of Destined Death. Only with Destined Death is one completely removed from the playing field. Until then it’s a constant cycle of rebirth along the journey, which is literally used to denote the NG+ cycles.

Feeling lost vs guided where to go next is part of the appeal. These aren’t best types of games one could choose if the goal is just “winning.” The least concerning thing to me when playing these games is reaching an ending. It’s why my playthrough’s are usually twice as long or more than the norm.
 
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sXeth

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Isn't the 'chosen one' title a deception anyway? You're not actually special-- Gwyn, Gwyndolin and Frampt have spread the myth to encourage Hollows to take the pilgrimage and kindle the flame. Its a ruse. And it's also why you run into a bunch of other people who've also been instructed to go ring the bells or whatever.
Its a subversion in the sense that yes, this isn't Zelda, Link, and Ganon reincarnating in an endless cycle to have the same dust-up every couple of centuries or so.

Its not a terribly unique subversion, in that Ultima, Baldurs Gate, and Morrowind (just to pick notable RPG vidya games) already did this whole setup with the prophecies don't actually have a specified target, whomever chases the prophecies becomes the target by virtue of doing so,. (Dune also played with idea even earlier, except the ones making the prophecies were playing a lot more chess including genetic engineering their chosen one until someone whimsically screwed up the final generation). And the problem with the subversions is they become less and subversive the more often they're used. And beyond its predecessors, Souls has tried to use the same subversion half a dozen times over.

(at this point, its more common for that particular subversion itself to be subverted. With things like The Matrix or Wheel of Time presenting the idea that the Chosen One is not Chosen but simply ticking boxes only to later reverse back)

Quintessentially, its in there with the Last of Us in trying to present an overly predictable outcome. Except TLoU gets by on character work and actor performances and chemistry..... Souls... memeticially .... does not. You're hard pressed to even find two characters in a room or performing an action not related to ushering the Blank PoV one along on their mission. Its even tougher to avoid the Chosen One trope when literally none of the characters can find their way out of a broom closet without your direct intervention and if you odn't intervene they often simply cease to exist.


But to simplyify my previous wordy statement, as someone else so succintly summaized for me. The Dark Souls lore crowd consistently (in this thread and elsewhere) wants to tell you that you should read LotR by the appendices instead of the actual chapters. Fair enough if thats their deal, but I don't think that speaks to any inherent quality of the narrative (and I've already covered the narrative and why I think the fanwiki spew actually detracts from it)
 
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hanselthecaretaker

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Points for originality I guess -

I thinking just watching that was tougher for me though. Felt like playing Mario Galaxy on a 2D plane.
 

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Its a subversion in the sense that yes, this isn't Zelda, Link, and Ganon reincarnating in an endless cycle to have the same dust-up every couple of centuries or so.

Its not a terribly unique subversion, in that Ultima, Baldurs Gate, and Morrowind (just to pick notable RPG vidya games) already did this whole setup with the prophecies don't actually have a specified target, whomever chases the prophecies becomes the target by virtue of doing so,. (Dune also played with idea even earlier, except the ones making the prophecies were playing a lot more chess including genetic engineering their chosen one until someone whimsically screwed up the final generation). And the problem with the subversions is they become less and subversive the more often they're used. And beyond its predecessors, Souls has tried to use the same subversion half a dozen times over.
When other than DS1 is the 'chosen one' trope evoked and then subverted?

In DS2 you're on a journey explicitly for the preservation of your own self and memory. In DS3 you're one of many awakened. In Bloodborne, you're seeking a cure for your own sickness. In Sekiro you're a hired hand. And in Elden Ring you're "of no renown", resurrected seemingly by chance. Only in DS1 does anyone tell you you're chosen (when lying).

But to simplyify my previous wordy statement, as someone else so succintly summaized for me. The Dark Souls lore crowd consistently (in this thread and elsewhere) wants to tell you that you should read LotR by the appendices instead of the actual chapters. Fair enough if thats their deal, but I don't think that speaks to any inherent quality of the narrative (and I've already covered the narrative and why I think the fanwiki spew actually detracts from it)
Background is distinct from central plot. The latter is straightforward, the former is rich and detailed, in both Souls and LOTR. Fans aren't blind to the distinction-- they just enjoy worldbuilding for its own merits.
 

sXeth

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When other than DS1 is the 'chosen one' trope evoked and then subverted?

In DS2 you're on a journey explicitly for the preservation of your own self and memory. In DS3 you're one of many awakened. In Bloodborne, you're seeking a cure for your own sickness. In Sekiro you're a hired hand. And in Elden Ring you're "of no renown", resurrected seemingly by chance. Only in DS1 does anyone tell you you're chosen (when lying).

Subtext is also a thing. You don't need an NPC to hand you a nametag reading "Chosen One" to be hitting the trope of being the one guy who manages to fulfill the prophecy to gather the 4 items of distinction and go change the worlds metaphorical fusebox.

DS1 and 3 (and Elden Ring) are more explicit about it. DS2 and BB don't get as direct about it.

As Elden Ring goes, the prophecy in question denotes that the Chosen One will be a Tarnished (presumably some kind of exile, but we're never really embelllished on that) of No Reknown. Similar to how the Chosen One in Morrowind was explicitly stated to be a prisoner not from Morrowind.

Morrowind being a little more confusing all in all because there were two prophecies, and one (the Elder Scroll) was playing straight while the Nerevarine prophecy was some made up to-do list designed to create a new saint figure and convert them over to that religion.

And I don't care about the fan theory videos one way or another, except if I dicuss the plot in any terms, I get linked 2 hours of video of some guys metaphorical corkboard diagram of item descriptions that are probably lovely anchoring bits such as they are, defining this story takes place in a Dark Gothic Fantasy settings, Dragons are a thing, magic comes from the Starrs somehow and other such rules. And those factors are what defines your genre, and the boundaries that actins in your story have to fall within. but not in themselves a main narrative.

The problem with the narrative is both repetition across so many games now, and that it presents its ideas but never expands upon them. The old gods/whatever are corrupt, corruption breeds hubris and inevitable catastrophe. This F's everyone not at the top level (and even most of the top level) of society. The lower or lowest level of society rises up (as embodied by our designated hero du jour) and violently murders the top level and.... <insert conclusion here> (conclusions not actually presented in any detail). That gap at the end being the biggest thing.

Every game has included the option to continue the Old Way as the "default". But usually has an option, that we might consider the good or intended ending, as its usually attached to the most sympathetic characters in the game (the ones that aren't cardboard cutout tropes existing to sell you spells or whatnot, and the only ones with any sense of their own agency) is to obliterate all the old traditions completely and start from scratch.

Having this presented open ended is typically something that works once, but when you repeat it over and over is where it really weakens.
 
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Silvanus

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Subtext is also a thing. You don't need an NPC to hand you a nametag reading "Chosen One" to be hitting the trope of being the one guy who manages to fulfill the prophecy to gather the 4 items of distinction and go change the worlds metaphorical fusebox.
But... of course you have to be the one to accomplish those goals. Otherwise there would be no game. By that rationale, any story with a protagonist accomplishing noteworthy stuff is falling into the trope.

As Elden Ring goes, the prophecy in question denotes that the Chosen One will be a Tarnished (presumably some kind of exile, but we're never really embelllished on that) of No Reknown. Similar to how the Chosen One in Morrowind was explicitly stated to be a prisoner not from Morrowind.
Remind me where that prophecy is? I don't recall any such prophecy, and it doesn't really square with the fact that the Grace resurrected numerous tarnished of /great/ renown specifically to fulfil those goals. By my memory, the Greater Will intended for the demigods to uphold their grand design. That plan fell through in the Shattering, and so it then resurrected a group of well-renowned Tarnished in order to try to salvage it. Seemingly by chance, you are resurrected alongside them. No prophecy about a tarnished of no renown.

And I don't care about the fan theory videos one way or another, except if I dicuss the plot in any terms, I get linked 2 hours of video of some guys metaphorical corkboard diagram of item descriptions that are probably lovely anchoring bits such as they are, defining this story takes place in a Dark Gothic Fantasy settings, Dragons are a thing, magic comes from the Starrs somehow and other such rules. And those factors are what defines your genre, and the boundaries that actins in your story have to fall within. but not in themselves a main narrative.
OK, but this isn't really relevant. I'm not talking about fan stuff. I'm talking about the depth of worldbuilding in-game, which is quite extensive and evocative on its own.

The problem with the narrative is both repetition across so many games now, and that it presents its ideas but never expands upon them. The old gods/whatever are corrupt, corruption breeds hubris and inevitable catastrophe. This F's everyone not at the top level (and even most of the top level) of society. The lower or lowest level of society rises up (as embodied by our designated hero du jour) and violently murders the top level and.... <insert conclusion here> (conclusions not actually presented in any detail). That gap at the end being the biggest thing.
I mean, it's a game series, it's going to evoke the same themes. Almost all series do that. The cyclical nature is a core part of that theme, even.

Every game has included the option to continue the Old Way as the "default". But usually has an option, that we might consider the good or intended ending, as its usually attached to the most sympathetic characters in the game (the ones that aren't cardboard cutout tropes existing to sell you spells or whatnot, and the only ones with any sense of their own agency) is to obliterate all the old traditions completely and start from scratch.

Having this presented open ended is typically something that works once, but when you repeat it over and over is where it really weakens.
Right, so later games-- like Sekiro, Elden Ring, etc-- have presented more than just 2 endings, including ones with altogether separate focuses and implications.
 
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Zulie returns!


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Zullie the Witch 3 hours ago
A big thanks to Smoughtown, who I consulted with a bit for this video. I was looking for something that indicated the purpose of Erdtree Burial was related to rebirth, and Smoughtown helpfully pointed me to a detail highlighted by The Tarnished Archaeologist, where the doors of the Erdtree Burial chambers feature murals that appear to depict the whole process. Go check out both of their channels: https://www.youtube.com/c/smoughtown https://www.youtube.com/@tarnishedarchaeologist This is a video I've been meaning to make since the DLC was announced, and I'm kind of embarrassed I've kept putting it off so long, but at least it's done now.
 
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@ZullietheWitch 8 hours ago
The counterpart to the Law of Regression is the Law of Causality, which describes the connections and relationships between meaning, granting definition to the world. But all things are defined as much by what they aren't as what they are, breeding division and discrimination. It would be heresy to suggest the world would be better off without such things though.



Lol -
@UwU.The.Commenter. 8 hours ago (edited)
Rannis plan: Complex game of chess to overthrow the gods
Rykards plan: The very hungry caterpillar
 

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I've been watching quite a bit of this guy's Elden Ring challenge runs. Unlike like a lot of content creators out there, he's quite entertaining with some actually clever and funny commentary.

 
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