What's the perfect Elden Ring palette cleanser for you?

What’s the perfect Elden Ring palette cleanser for you?

So, you’ve been playing Elden Ring for over a month. After sinking 50 — heck, maybe 100 — hours into The Lands Between, exhaustion is starting to set in. FromSoftware’s games are demanding experiences, both when it comes to skill and time commitment. You’re finally ready to take a break and move on to a comedown game. The question is: What game can possibly follow up something as magnificent as Elden Ring?

What makes that question especially difficult is that there’s so much to choose from. While the open-world game has been the center of attention since its launch, March was a stacked month for gaming. Elden Ring players may now find themselves staring down a daunting backlog with no idea where to start.

I’m here to help. There are several March releases that function as a natural palette cleanser for Elden Ring. It’s just a matter of whether you’re looking to go cold turkey or wean off the Souls formula slowly. Thankfully, there’s a good option for any player’s needs.

The 180: Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby drills a mole in Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

Elden Ring is an overwhelming experience in every sense of the word, so no one could blame you for wanting your next game to be as different as possible. For that, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the obvious choice. Say goodbye to the dreary deserts of Caelid and say hello to Waddle Dee Town!

Kirby’s latest adventure is a breezy platformer with the sole goal of eliciting joy. Its visuals are colorful and cheery. Its levels are straightforward, featuring simple combat and intuitive puzzles. Best of all, it introduces players to Mouthful Mode, which is a comedic tour de force. Perhaps most appealing of all: It’s a very easy game. Even on its “harder” difficulty, there’s little challenge until the endgame. Normally that might be a downside, but for those who need to get as far away from Starscourge Radahn as possible, it’s part of the game’s immediate appeal.

Read our Kirby and the Forgotten Land review

The Soulslite: Tunic

A massive floating castle in Tunic.

It can be hard to totally reverse course after a game like Elden Ring. Its language is very different from most video games, which can make it difficult to go straight to a game like Kirby. You may find yourself looking for something that naturally bridges the gap between FromSoftware’s specific philosophies and classic game design.

If that’s the case, Tunic is the game for you. The adventure game starring an adorable fox is an ode to classic Zelda games like Link’s Awakening. But it also pulls a few modern tricks from the Souls series, including stamina-based combat, truly hidden secrets, and dropping currency on death. While its features are familiar for Elden Ring players, it’s a much more accommodating experience that’s more focused on exploration than combat. Players can even enable a no-death mode to turn it into a purely chill adventure. Call it a “Soulslite.”

Read our Tunic review

The gear shift: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands classes.

When I finished Elden Ring, I found myself needing something fast-paced. FromSoftware’s games can be laborious, with slow combat and movement. I found myself wanting something with splashier, immediately satisfying action. If you’re in the same boat, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the way to go.

The Borderlands spinoff is one of 2022’s biggest surprises so far. It’s a fast and fun looter-shooter with an endearing story. What I love about it is just how wild its gunfights get. By the end of the game, it almost felt like I had truly broken it. Between my legendary guns packed with perks and skills pulled from two different classes, I was blowing bosses away in seconds flat. That was especially something I needed after some of Elden Ring’s long, arduous encounters.

Read our Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review

The chaotic choice: Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

Jack Garland closes his fist in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a weird one. In some ways, it’s a terrible follow-up. It draws inspiration from the Souls games, with similar boss fights and a bonfire-like checkpointing system, but it’s not nearly as refined as FromSoftware’s games. Combat is a bit of a mess at times, lacking the same weight and impact as Elden Ring.

Despite those critiques, I still deeply recommend it as a palette cleanser. Final Fantasy Origin almost plays like a satire on modern game design. It throws everything players love about the Final Fantasy RPGs out the window and tries to imagine what the original game would look like in 2022. Its battles are a frustrating sensory overload and gear drops at such a rate that it’s impossible to keep up. It all feels like a jab at the ways that today’s developers try to chase the hype of hot games like Elden Ring. If that kind of chaos sounds appealing, bump this to the top of your backlog.

Read our Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin review

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