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Elden Ring is a reminder that Souls games get elevators right

FromSoftware have lifts down

Elden Ring has got me thinking again. Not about its terrible banter I adore or its rolling goats. My mind has turned to its elevators and how FromSoftware does them justice. They aren't just tools to get from A to B but moving platforms that hide secrets or instill a sense of dread. Not to mention their little pressure plates - god they're satisfying aren't they?

I'm sure other games have exceptional elevator sequences. Moments where characters travel up or down together for the first - or last time. Perhaps there are invisible assassins in the elevator with you, woah! Chaotic firefights where you're sliding and tumbling down an elevator shaft as everything erupts in flames. I'm not saying other games aren't capable of elevating the elevator. But I reckon FromSoftware gets the elevator consistently right, and have been for years.

The wave of realisation hit me when, naturally, I rode an elevator downwards in Elden Ring. Without spoiling too much, I'd encountered a curious building plonked in the middle of the woods. A large elevator sat inside a funky room that gave off a different vibe to everything I'd encountered up until that point. After a quick stamp on the pressure plate, it took me down; not by the usual creaks of pulley and rope, but by the silent hum of an alien energy source.

Not only was my elevator ride a bit spooky, but also long. Longer than I'd ever encountered in a Souls game. And it was this disconcerting, seemingly endless descent into somewhere that made me appreciate just how well FromSoft injected a sense of discovery into what was, essentially, a static journey from point A to point B. The devs could've cut things short with a loading screen or increased the speed of the elevator to move things along, but no, that would defeat the point.

FromSoft transformed that ride into the abyss into a set piece, a bit like opening those double doors into the enormity of Limgrave for the first time. The devs used the elevator as restraining tube, keeping me fixed in place so I wouldn't miss the grand reveal: dark curtains lifting to reveal something truly spectacular. The length of the trip also played its part in the set up too, taking me from relaxed to disconcerted to astonished over the course of a stressful minute.

Compared to my previous experience with Souls elevators, a lengthy plunge hadn't been what I expected. Looking back, it was another clever switcheroo from the norm. A norm which I've also come to appreciate.

A warrior holds up a burning torch in a dark cave filled with ants and eggs in an Elden Ring screenshot.

The same rings true for Elden Ring as it does all previous Souls games. Yes, the average elevator is a method of getting around, but they're also platforms that act as jumping off points. Where other lifts might deposit you from above to below, Souls games actively want you to fling yourselves off them and cut your journeys short. They encourage you to remain active and pay even greater attention to your surroundings. The mine shaft holds many secrets, you see, like turtle necks; no, not the jumpers, but the surprise retractable folds of the turtle's neck, cut to the size of a Daschund's leg, and pickled to taste as dictated by the recipe books of the Lands Between. Although, the jumper would pair nicely with the greaves I've got on at the moment.

And it's where they take you, or refuse to, that sets Souls elevators apart from most. Often you'll step off an elevator in Elden Ring and think, "Oh, I'm back here, nice!", transforming them from dread machines to slabs of relief. Sometimes the elevators aren't even at their posts, having left a telling gap in their place. Wander up to the lever stationed beside it and it'll simply say that it's not operational: a less-than subtle hint to piss off elsewhere. But also, a nod to its true form as a shortcut. "If you're brave enough", it says, "I'll meet you downstairs".

The brave journey to find the lift you're after is worth it. Partly for the shortcut, but mainly for another press on the pressure plates that control them. There's something immensely satisfying about the thunk it makes when it slots into place before it takes you up or down. So much better than a button press, I reckon.

Don't mind me, the lift-liker, off to play more Elden Ring now that I've had a good gush about it. I look forward to seeing a highly appraised message that's like, "secret passage ahead, down", right next to a lift and I'll stupidly follow it's guidance while holding like 20,000 runes and plummet to my death.

About the Author

Ed Thorn avatar

Ed Thorn

Senior Staff Writer

When Ed's not cracking thugs with bicycles in Yakuza, he's likely swinging a badminton racket in real life. Any genre goes, but he's very into shooters and likes a weighty gun, particularly if they have a chainsaw attached to them. Adores orange and mango squash, unsure about olives.

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