How FromSoftware Tackles Ambiguity In Its Games

Their approach to this proves that games are art.

Story Highlights

  • FromSoftware games embed lore in item descriptions and environments, creating engaging story puzzles.
  • Known for their high difficulty, these games demand experimentation and perseverance.
  • Ambiguity in the games’ mechanics and stories fosters vibrant player communities.

After all, FromSoftware is known for its challenging and immersive games like “Dark Souls,” “Bloodborne,” and “Elden Ring.” Ambiguity is among the basic building blocks of FromSoftware’s design philosophy. This gives a peak to player engagement and adds more depth to the concept of narratives, which is scarce in the current gaming market.

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Narrative Ambiguity 

The story of FromSoftware is narrated in some of the most striking ways of using ambiguity. The studio never gives explicit stories but hides them in elements of items, descriptions, environmental details, and cryptic dialogues. Lore can be pieced together by players in most cases only through grand explorations and community discussions.

This is what makes From Software’s level design so good
byu/caderc inEldenring

For instance, in Elden Ring, lore is split around the game, detailing the complex history of the Lands Between and its lords, such as Godfrey and Queen Marika. The game proves more involved because a closer bond develops between the player and the game world. By all means, it is making the narrative a puzzle where each found item or hidden passage can contribute to the whole story. This not only makes the game replayable but also helps in developing a community of players among whom the findings and theories can be discussed.

Gameplay Ambiguity 

The ambiguity extends even to gameplay mechanics: known for being ridiculously difficult. A game by FromSoftware virtually demands that the player experiment and go through multiple trial-and-error strategies, weapon combos, and character builds to get ahead. This approach is annoyingly frustrating, but victories are all the sweeter. Getting rid of that one boss or finding a hidden area through pure perseverance brings a deep feeling of achievement.

fromsoftware ambiguity in elden ring
Tweet About The Elden Ring Open World (Source: FornaTRON on Twitter)

For instance, in Dark Souls, the players are dropped in the world with little direction but to figure out on their own the mechanics of combat, magic, and character progression. The lesser hand-holding is an active design decision that respects the player’s persistence in equal measure. At the same time, it immerses them in the game’s world and mechanics even more.

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Thematic And Artistic Ambiguity 

Ambiguity, one may say, is played upon by FromSoftware in all of its ways: narrative, gameplay, and thematic and artistic choices. These desolate landscapes in such games are strangely haunting, with a sense of desolation evoked through them. That, too, very subtly but very powerfully, is the secret of visual storytelling, where every location or character design supports the general ambiguity or enigma.

Elden Ring, for instance, always had those massive open spaces filled with the ruins and remnants of preceding civilizations, thus pushing the player into weaving his own stories about the locations he had been to. 

Dark souls is proof the video games are art
byu/thanathos66 infromsoftware

The artistic direction in the game married various mythologies and artistic traditions into a world that was somehow familiar and alien at once, continuously urging players to question what lay before them and see things hidden.

Community And Engagement 

This ambiguity that FromSoftware games carry in them has been the leading cause of creating a vibrant, responsive community. Players come together to share their discoveries, construct wikis, and develop theories of the lore behind the game and its mechanics. This communal effort changes playing into a shared adventure in which players support and challenge each other.

Forums (Reddit, Steam, and more) are filled with threads discussing the tiniest aspects of the games. The discussions brought about in such threads usually get into a lot of speculative lore details and hidden things as an effect, essentially showing how hard-working the community is for every bit of these games. That collective exploration adds another layer of engagement, making the games more than just solitary experiences but rather collaborative quests for knowledge and understanding. 

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My Final Words 

dark souls ambiguity
Ashen One Staring At Anor Londo (Source: Youtube)

What sets FromSoftware apart from everything else in the industry is how it masters ambiguity in its games. By leaving most of its narrative, gameplay, and thematic elements open to interpretation, it creates in the studio rich, immersive experiences that challenge gamers both intellectually and emotionally. 

This does not only make player engagement higher but also builds a firm fan community. In a day and age where most video games are essentially about spoon-feeding the player a story for an intended experience, FromSoftware’s dogged insistence on ambiguity has made its offerings more compelling, and players from across the globe have taken notice.

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Najam Ul Hassan is a News Reporter on eXputer who enjoys investing hours in his favorite video game titles. When he’s not playing games, he’s practicing Journalism. He began his career on eXputer after combining his limitless love of video games and all things geek with his considerable writing experience. He has been cited numerous times by several noteworthy publications and sites such as Game Rant, Yahoo, PlayStation LifeStyle, VGC, VG247, TheGamer, among others. Experience: 2+ Years || Education: Masters in Mass Media Communication || Written 300+ News Stories.

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