It’s late May and I’m watching the trailer in Elden Ring. After more than 150 hours of wandering in Lands Between, I feel the familiar bittersweet feeling that occurs whenever I finish a game I love. I have conquered unimaginable horrors and become Lord of Elden in my own personalized adventure, all while flying on the back of a wonderful double-jumping steed; so what now? Recovering from this high will become a personal struggle for the rest of the year.
The Elden Ring dominates my life. When I’m not playing it, that’s the only thing I want to do. When I join other games for work or pleasure, quests like gaining access to Raya Lucaria Academy or conquering Malenia are always on my mind. I stopped eating Red Lobster because it made me suffer from horrible flashbacks of being spat incessantly by giant crustaceans in Liurnia of the Lakes. Elden Ring joins the ranks of Grand Theft Auto III, Skyrim and Breath of the Wild as games that have become an obsession for me, and the lull that follows has been tough.
I play the game because of my work obligations, but nothing sustains my attention. That’s not light on the games themselves, but they took a great course of action to follow. I wasn’t sure what kind of experience I wanted either because Elden Ring ticked a lot of boxes. Should I keep playing another big game like Dying Light 2 or enjoy something much smaller and experimental? Worst of all, the answer can’t be “keep playing Elden Ring.” How much I love it, but I don’t want it to become an anchor that stops me from enjoying everything else during the year. I had to continue.
Thankfully, the first game that got me back on the rails was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. As an old-school TMNT fan, I’ve been looking forward to the return of the video game Tribute Games for a long time, and it successful distribution what I wanted by providing a lovely modern favorite. The mindless but satisfying beat ’em up action is a refreshing break from the more calculated, intense battles of the Elden Ring. Then you pick a killer classic and loads of nostalgia. It may not offer much in comparison, but this pleasant familiarity shows me that playing Elden Ring leaves me too mentally exhausted to tackle a more mechanically dense title. By the time I kicked Shredder to the curb, I was craving something a little bigger, a lot bolder, and essentially sturdier.
Enter neon white. While Shredder’s Revenge gave me something familiar, Neon White conquered me by bringing something original that was fresh. I love platformers, and the clever implementation of card-based gunplay and emphasis on running speed gave me something new to obsess over: leaderboards. How many seconds can I get past the platinum lap? Can I continue to claim my leaderboard dominance over the friends list? My competitive side found a new challenge to take on. Like the Elden Ring, Neon White gives a rewarding feel to “Me versus the Game,” a challenge that forces me to sharpen my dexterity and timing to navigate its obstacles. Or, in the words of ordinary people who taste more silly, I need to “do well” again.
After leaving my mark on Heaven, I’m almost back to my form and feel ready to tackle something a little more out of the ordinary. Seemingly out of sight, a small indie game called The Looker has garnered positive buzz online as a fun parody of Jonathan Blow’s mystery puzzle game The Witness. I liked The Witness so much that I wanted to try The Looker. I’m so glad I did because in just a few minutes it earned me the title of best humor I’ve played in a while. The game is a humorous deconstruction of Blow’s 2016 mystery, casting sharp pokes at its pretentiousness and the confusing nature of puzzle gaming in general. Not only are the jokes funny, but The Looker’s puzzles, which are taunts of The Witness’, are really clever in their own right. As one Totally free game, I strongly recommend anyone who has played enough The Witness give The Looker a try. Its hilarious inventiveness got me excited to see what other weird experiences were out there, and the Elden Ring’s misty gate that hindered my enthusiasm for other games dissipated completely. whole.
Elden Ring treated me so well that I convinced myself I wouldn’t find a game that did the same. I suppose that’s still true to some extent; it’s Game of the Year with a Bullet. Sometimes a game is so special that you forget everything else is there or don’t want to look for it. In hindsight, I also fear not enjoying something simply because it’s not the Elden Ring. In the end, it helps to walk away and not try to fill that void with something else right away, which is probably what I should do first. There might be some parting advice out there somewhere, and I’m grateful to have discovered that there are actually plenty of other fish in the sea.