Why start something that you know you'll never finish? An hour into Elden Ring, I already knew I'd be chipping away at this game for years. The temptation to move on from anything too tricky, the endless number of things to move on to, an ocean of a map, my own limited free time... I could tell this would be another Bloodborne, another Skyrim, another Minecraft, another thing I love where I'd never see the credits roll. In this way Elden Ring is a lot like Berserk, the legendary fantasy manga so closely threaded into the DNA of the FromSoft games that it can sometimes feel impossible to pull the two apart. I'll never finish Berserk either, though not for lack of trying. The author Kentaro Miura died last May at the age of 54. His manga, which ran for over thirty years, was never completed.
I'll be frank: Miura's death hit me like a truck. Unfair doesn't even begin to cover it. I will never know Miura and I envy those who did, but through his work I felt I understood him, at least a little bit. There's something very teenager-ish about early Berserk. It's a whole lot of angst and blood and frustration splattered willy-nilly on the page. As the series went on, though, it grew into something that cautiously examined or even regretted the tone of the early chapters. Protagonist Guts - and Miura, through him - seemed to lose interest in avenging what he'd lost and instead chose to focus on protecting what he had left. Unfathomable horrors both man-made and Lovecraftian, institutional religion, war, political intrigue, sexual assault, grief, trauma, love, betrayal; Berserk took everything on, all while looking the best that any comic has ever looked, ever. And you can quote me on that.