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Elden Ring

If you have played a Souls, you have been repeating this dungeon for 10 years without realizing it and Elden Ring is no exception

March has been the month of Elden Ring. Our adventure through the middle lands has become From Software’s best-selling work to date, and one of the most successful titles of the company that gave birth to such an influential saga as Dark Souls. Quite a milestone. I am also one of those players who have embarked on the epic that the Miyazaki team has prepared with such care, a journey in which, as in previous titles in the saga, I cannot stop seeing winks, references, or directly tributesto some of the previous installments of the Souls saga.

This left me thinking of one of those memories, one that repeats itself with particular force, almost like a unwritten rule within the series. This is a map that has been chasing me since none other than Demon’s Souls, the first installment of this mythical series, and from which it seems that the From Software team has not managed to escape completely either. Today I’m going to tell you why Demon’s Souls Prison of Hope is special, and how its ideas they have been repeating throughout the Soul Saga.

A prison out of nightmarish terrors

Demon’s Souls is a title with a peculiar structure within the series. Unlike its main series successors, as well as the Elden Ring itself, with its open world, Demon’s mapping is heavily divided into thematic zonescompletely alien to each other, both in approach and ideas, as in navigation or gameplay.

“Latria’s tower defies everything we’ve encountered before in Demon’s Souls”

The tower of Latria corresponds to the third archistone of Demon’s Souls, being his first area the second dungeon, in the most classic sense of the word, from Miyazaki’s title. The previous dungeon that we have faced if we go “in order” through the different areas is the Boletaria Castle, in the first area of ​​the game. An open and relatively player-friendly area, with a simple goal: enter the bowels of the castle.

On the contrary, the time we transport to the tower of Latria we appear inside a cell in the deepest part of a dark and gloomy prison. A space that can remind us of the Comillopiedra tunnels, but substituting the crackling of the lava and the blows of the peaks for the screams of some of its prisoners, the darkness of not have natural lightand the jingle of the jailers waiting for us.


Recreation of the Prison of Hope for Demon’s Souls Remake. Image by Alexis Boyer.

Once located, we soon realize that the first trick of this prison, and the “theme” of the tower of Latria in general, it will be terror, either to the unknown, to the powerful enemies that await us, or to the traps (that there are) that lie in wait along the way. Through the breaking of cycle game, Demon’s embraces this idea strongly, and exposes it in an immersive way that has a lot to do with the desEsports Extrasof this prison.

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Real world architecture for a fantasy prison

Good level desEsports Extrasin a video game seeks to ensure that navigation through the environment is natural, and that the gameplay as we move through the mapping, all of it without breaking the immersion of game. That is why, when we see an image of a video game map, it is normal for us to think “that would not be done like that in reality“, even if we don’t see it that way while we play.

“It is not common that the desEsports Extrasof a mapping is considered the same as in the real world”

That’s one of the reasons Latria’s Prison of Hope draws so much attention. If we look at a map of the area, we can verify that, both in form and in approach, this area of ​​Demon’s Souls is structured like a real prison; with well-separated cell compartments, single entry and exit lines, rest areas for guards, etc.

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The prison dismembered by plants. Original image by Banderi, via Reddit

This is so not only as an atmospheric element, one of the strengths of the area, but also because the objective of this dungeon is get to the bottom and look for an opening to get out of prison, a fact that makes the “realistic” approach to prison take effect immediately; In addition, this very natural structure favors navigation through iteven in the dark conditions presented by the map.

The mixture of setting and approach is reinforced by the enemies of the area, some tentacular creatures that are fearsome when they are the ones that make the first move, but that are quickly dispatched if we catch them by surprise; this improves when we see that they do not usually appear more than one at a time, and that their patrols are repeated floor by floor, making us more and more aware the more we advance.

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Reminiscences throughout the saga

The tower of Latria is a game of contrasts In Demon’s Souls, from the time we break out of the prison and start moving through the towers, to the initial drop and the final encounter by the demon soul, all of it is almost an allegory from the rest of the game as a whole. But it’s hard to miss that first area, both because of its setting and its solid ideas.

“From the depths of a cell, to the top of a tower”

So much so that, although never in the same way as in the original Demon’s, many of the things proposed that we saw in the Prison of Hope prison have permeated the rest of the installments of the saga. The clearest of these relationships, without a doubt, are the dungeons of irithyll in Dark Souls 3, both thematically and in intentions.

However, personally, I like to draw relationships with areas such as The Nightmare of Mensis in Bloodborne on an environmental level, or with Sen’s fortress in Dark Souls on a thematic level. both examples take two clear parts of the Prison of Hope, and they dissect it through the lens of the ideas exposed in their respective games, but the essence remains the same.

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Bloodborne

In Elden Ring we can also see the echoes of this dungeon in some areas, the clearest would be the underground of Leyndell, with a relatively similar environmental game to the prison, a strange element for a game in which the premium against the restlessness and darkness of Demon’s Souls. Perhaps for this reason, it continues to surprise me that, no less than eleven years later, From Software continues to rescue ideas from what is, for me, his most mythical map.

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