Yes, Hidetaka Miyazaki always makes video games with very bad and corrupt kings, but that message is nuanced in each of his video games. Dark Souls talks about fatherhood, Dark Souls II about dreams and love, Dark Souls III about faith and Bloodborne about the dangers of knowledge, but what about Elden Ring?
Who knows why Hidetaka Miyazaki has a such a disastrous view of the human being. We can find the answer in his love for the decadent, depressing and heartbreaking Berserk, in that childhood of his that he always claims was very hard, or in a first stage of maturity in which he found himself lost and without illusions. We will never know that completely, but it was Ico that gave him back the will to live, to create and to dream. In each of his video games there is a terrible message of fear, contempt and hatred, but also a very subtle way of turning those feelings into the most elegant characters we have ever seen. Hidetaka Miyazaki paints with blood, tears, cold and darkness, transforming sorrow into deep nostalgia that embraces us and disarms us. This touch of his is also in Elden Ring, but what this game tells us about ourselves is significantly different. To address this question, I am going to do it through their characters. And I’ll start, of course, with Ranni.
We all love Ranni. As you may know from completing her full quest, Rennala and Radagon’s daughter imprisoned her soul in a doll to escape her empyrean nature. The witch plays a moving role in Elden Ring, as she is someone capable of sacrificing her flesh. at the cost of being free from the gods, denying his power. It is said that if the Greater Will calls you, you cannot resist its summons. In other words, whoever receives a call from a god lives forever imprisoned by him. Ranni refused to live by this rule at the cost of his own physical matter, would you? The Middle Lands are plagued by weak individuals, by beings who feel alone and helpless. When we kill a finger reader, she calls us foolish for not following any god. For this reason, Elden Ring is, more than ever, an absolute critique of the most primal of fears: live and die alone, with no one to guide us. The fear of living for ourselves.
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It is very interesting who follows Ranni: a troll who is not human and a person who claims to be Blaidd adopting an animal form. They both love her precisely because of her will to be free of her. Ranni stars in what for me is the good ending of the game. If we help her, we can break with the era led by the Golden Tree and start the stellar era. “And what is the stellar age”, you may ask. Well, it is a concept that contains one of the central ideas of all the work of its author: that in that decadence, sadness and cold with which he feeds his color palette, there is beauty. Because the freedom that Ranni yearns for is one in which you can be sad if you want, in which you can be cold or suffer, because that is being human. However, the grace of the Golden Will always gives us warmth, guidance, direction and constant happiness, but is that true freedom? No, it is slavery disguised as comfort, the one that made Golden Mask go on a pilgrimage in search of a new path for the Order.
Ranni explains that being free also means being sad
In addition to the moon and the water of Ranni, facing the light and the sky of the Golden Tree, there is another very powerful aesthetic figure that speaks of us: the red rot. What is the scarlet goddess? What is the curse that blinds Malenia, against which the blue swordsman faces or that gives birth to Millicent’s daughters? Is it evil? Not at all. The red rot is the wild thing that grows, survives and sneaks among so many gods invented by man. It is chaotic, fiery, but full of life. Wherever she passes, the disinherited and marginalized prosper. Miquella, the only good being in the entire game, accepts her and welcomes her into her Hieratic Tree, because she understands what it is: the wildlife that everyone rejects. because it is ugly and inappropriate.
People, instead of embracing the passion of life, we lock ourselves in worshiping the Lord of the Blood, the Three Fingers and the Two, the Greater Will, the moon,… And we reject the red rot. This way of criticizing the relationship between man and nature is also shown in the dragons. These fantastic creatures were, together with the giants and the Uhl, the first settlers of the world. However, instead of respecting and worshiping them, they were persecuted and massacred. If we look at the lore of the Elden Ring, we understand that once they were decimated by humans, they sought them out to worship them and ask for forgiveness. Lansseax, sister of Fortissax, even became human to lead men on this path. But humanity, instead of loving them, preferred to hunt them down, eat their hearts and steal their power. The dragon community is nothing but a vile act of murder, usurpation, and ambitious pursuit of inordinate power. To this day, this speaks volumes about how we treat our natural environment. We say we love it, but we kill it day after day, taking advantage of it.
We say we love our environment, but we kill it day after day, taking advantage of itIn addition to the red rot, the Elden Ring introduces another fascinating curse: that of the augurs. Clearly inspired by Ico’s horns in the video game of the same name, Mohg and Morgott are two little boys thrown down a well and abandoned in the sewers of Leyndell. Their only sin is being born with a defect that they did not choose. And how many times do we do just that? How many times do we reject the one that is not normative? It is not the first time that the aberration is, in reality, good at miyazaki play. Do you remember Bloodborne? Remember that decision that had to be made about whether to send the survivors of Yharnam to Iosefka or to the Odeon Chapel? At first no one wanted to send him to chapel because his host looked like a monster. It is an interesting question to reflect on.
Not all Elden Ring messages are negative
Although everything that Elden Ring wants to convey to us seems terrible, it is not. As we learn from watching the Malenia aeonia bloom, there is beauty in the rotten. Who doesn’t love Miquella? The youngest son of Radagon and Malenia was born with the curse of eternal childhood and the curse of being desired by all. Although there is a strong whiff of pederasty in all of his lore, right Moh? What Miquella represents is that salvation lies in innocence, in being pure and in loving. With Malenia, she founds Elphael and creates the Hieratic Tree. Reaching this area, and finding beasts, crystals and other enemies worshiping the statues of the little one, living in peace and harmony, is very powerful because you arrive at this place after about eighty hours killing them without mercy. And you know all those caves full of little monsters? They were nothing more than a few homes they improvised to escape the Shattering and the rain of rubble that fell from Farum Azula. Y you have finished with them.
Perhaps, deep down, we do not want to save ourselves or live in peaceOutside the borders of Elphael there is only violence and chaos, but not here. Also, it’s not just monsters that inhabit this place, but there are also human defectors from Leyndell and Caria guarding the place, like Loretta. In other words, Miquella’s kindness has inspired many to stop worshiping any god and to follow a very simple idea: that of accept us all equally. And what does the player do? Well, kill them all, kill Malenia and be unable to rescue Miquella from the hands of her captor. Because, perhaps, deep down, we do not want to save ourselves or live in peace. We are human, we are the bad guys.
These are the messages that, in my opinion, are the most interesting in order to understand how the Elden Ring sees us as a civilization, but the albinaurians, Gideon Ofnir, the Godeater, Godwyn, the falcon that Nepheli saw in her youth, or the happy damsels that dance while the corpses of the nobles burn, hide many more. Therefore, now it’s your turn, what element of the game contains that message that has deeply penetrated you, personally?
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