NEW YORK (CNS) — It’s easy to see why “Elden Ring” (Bandai Namco) has quickly become a hit. This intense role-playing title features an incredible open-world design and immersive gameplay.
Yet the popular newcomer also involves a quantity of harsh bloody violence that limits its appropriate audience. So, too, do the polytheistic religious themes included in its narrative.
The game is the result of a collaboration between developer From Software — known for their famously difficult “Dark Souls” series — and fantasy novelist George R. R. Martin, the man behind the mega-franchise “Game of Thrones.”
Players take up the cause of the Tarnished, warriors from a realm called the Lands Between who were once outcasts but have returned to reclaim the titular ornament. The ring has been broken into six shards and a different demigod protects each piece. These powerful enemies battle the Tarnished as well as each other as they vie to acquire the Elden Ring for themselves.
Combat involves the skillful use of swords, bows and other weaponry. Gamers also have to know how and when to dodge or parry incoming attacks. Adversaries are incredibly strong, moreover — many are able to knock out an opponent in one or two strikes.
Players can opt out of at least some of the unsavory mayhem and disturbing images they might otherwise encounter. Thus blood effects can be turned off in the settings. And cutscenes displaying dead bodies — including crucified ones — as well as dismembered limbs can be skipped.
Sexual elements are almost entirely absent. Only the suggestive costuming of a single character might cause parents concern.
“Elden Ring” is a punishing game where tenacity and patience are rewarded with victory. It’s also an adventure that’s suitable only for those grown-ups who will be unaffected by its extra-biblical mythos and are willing to engage with its graphic visuals.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Windows.
The game contains gory combat violence, gruesome images, nonscriptural religious themes, partial nudity and occasional crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, material whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.