Elden: Path of the Forgotten Review – An eerie and enchanting landscape

Reviewed on July 10, 2020

Platforms:

PC, Nintendo Switch

Released:

July 10, 2020

Publisher:

Another Indie

Developer:

Onerat Games

Elden: Path of the Forgotten is a top-down RPG developed by Onerat Games and published by Another indie. It follows your character, Elden, on a mission to save their mother from a world full of monsters.

Dylan J. Walker, who is the solo developer behind Elden: Path of the Forgotten, has been working on this indie title since 2015. With beautiful and detailed pixel graphics, the game pays homage to old-school 8-bit and 16-bit games, both in graphics and gameplay mechanics.

The first thing that stood out to me when booting up Elden: Path of the Forgotten, was how eerie the game environment was. Playing as Elden, you wake up in your bed before traversing a world brimming with otherworldly creatures and monsters. While you start the game with a simple sword, you can find different weapons later on and unlock some simple magic abilities too. These are necessary because there are huge waves of enemies to fight throughout the game, and they’re all pretty tough competition.

As far as other human characters in the game go, you don’t really encounter any apart from a handful of people who are either already dead or on the brink of dying. Who or what killed them isn’t clear and, while you do learn more about the world’s setting as you progress through the game, you don’t gain a lot more understanding about the things happening around you through language. Speech, place names, books, and notes are all written in an incomprehensible language that Elden nor you as the player can understand. Rather than through text, the story unfolds through the environment, and I instead found myself taking story cues from the buildings, monsters, and scenery that I encountered. This, together with the ghostly soundtrack and the visually stunning world the game is set in, makes for a strange but engrossing gaming experience.

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Despite not being able to understand all the components of the world I was in, I was still propelled forward by my own curiosity, wondering if the key to fully understanding the game’s setting was just around the corner. In one of his many devlogs, Dylan Walker has commented on the fact that many of his childhood nightmares helped shape the game’s story and environment. In particular, he talks about dreams where he was surrounded by hordes of monsters and couldn’t get away. This feeling of being trapped and threatened translates to the game; the game’s monsters are varied and strange, and suitably unsettling to fight in battle. While some monsters can simply be killed in melee combat, others can send shockwaves through the ground to destabilise you or distort your vision for a short period of time.

“…[Onerat Games’ Dylan Walker] has created a world that’s equally as eerie as it is enchanting.”

There’s a lot of fighting to be done, too; the top-down RPG doesn’t give you many other actions to do as Elden except for exploring and engaging in battle with enemies. As in the traditional pixel game style, combat requires quite a strategic approach; you’ll need to observe the different kinds of monsters in the game to learn about their behaviour and strike at the right moment to hit them (and eventually defeat them). As the game progresses, the number of enemies simultaneously attacking you rises, making things more challenging as you move through the game.

The nature of the game’s combat reminded me of classic platformer titles I played growing up, where a friend and I would take turns at trying to defeat particularly strong opponents. Similarly, it felt incredibly satisfying when I managed to win a challenging battle, and it kept me motivated to push ahead and see what was next.  While this kind of gameplay can feel rewarding, it can also be frustrating when it takes numerous tries to get past a powerful enemy or a boss. As such, Elden: Path of the Forgotten might be a fun ride to some, while feeling tedious and frustrating for others.

That said, Walker has created a world that’s equally as eerie as it is enchanting, and the game goes a lot deeper than its combat system. With its fascinating world, great use of non-verbal storytelling and immersive soundtrack, Elden: Path of the Forgotten is one indie gem that shouldn’t be missed by anyone with a soft spot for fantasy and pixel graphics.

7

Good

Positive:

  • Beautiful art
  • Different monsters and engaging combat
  • Great non-verbal storytelling

Negative:

  • Combat may feel tedious and repetitive for some

With Elden: Path of the Forgotten, Onerat games’ Dylan Walker has created an otherworldly experience unlike anything else. Peppered with challenging combat and beautiful graphics, this indie gem will be a great addition to your library.