Eternal Ring – I haven’t played the King’s Field series yet but from what I can tell this is basically KF lite. This was a PS2 launch title and I don’t know whether FromSoftware wanted to or were asked to coincide the game with the launch, or whether they were testing 6th gen waters before the next mainline installment. Either way it’s pretty bare bones.
The game’s main gimmick is a ring crafting system which is probably its best aspect; it’s pretty in-depth and satisfying: making rings, finding rings; rings with offensive spells, rings with defensive spells, status rings, there’s a lot to experiment with. They all also have very nice renders. Other than that there’s really not much else to do, the game is pretty short and not particularly well designed; yeah it’s tough but also very primitive and easily exploitable - nothing can stand up to your circle strafing.
The visuals are pretty weak and in fact the game looks worse than King’s Field 3 on PS1, both in terms of art direction as well as actual tech. The game just has no mood or style to it at all. There’s also a plethora of bugs, with my favorite being projectiles hitting you through walls and ceilings. It’s so unfair I almost kinda like it, it completely changes the conventional vidya dynamics – “you thought you were safe behind that wall, faggot? Wanted to heal and regroup? Think again!” I did however like the HUD and UI, they are well designed and crisp.
Despite the manual and the game itself lying to you that the analog controls are supported, they are in fact not so you have to play with a d-pad and with PS2’s pressure sensitive buttons you have to jam hard the directional button for hours; my thumb needs an extensive therapy now.
The music is weak as fuck, it’s completely inappropriate 90% of the time with the same limp loop playing ad nauseam. Even no music at all would be a better choice.
The story is barely present and sadly is also shit, there’s just nothing to work with here. No good lore™ or anything either.
You might be thinking I hated the game but despite all that I still enjoyed it, there’s a certain charm to playing something so hardcore and archaic, I just wish there was some incentive to play it other than meta. King’s Field 3 and 4 look much better in that aspect so maybe they are what I'm looking for.