Elden Ring has an official free-to-read manga. It’s a comedy, something totally unexpected and truly nothing like the game itself despite some characters fitting their roles to a T. And now, after a new set of chapters has dropped for a limited time, I can confidently say that Elden Ring: The Road to the Erdtree is one of my favorite pieces of cross-media so far.
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Written by gag mangaka Nikiichi Tobita, an artist best known for A Cursed Sword’s Daily Life and Monster x Monster, Elden Ring: The Road to the Erdtree follows a Wretch Tarnished named Asebito (Aseo for short) as he awakens in The Lands Between. If you know the start of the game, then you know the start of the manga, and the goal is the same: Aseo must become the Elden Lord while escorting Melina to that big-ass glowing tree in the middle of the world. Of course, the journey is treacherous. Aseo, being the loin-cloth clad Wretch that he is, has no equipment (aside from a club) and very low stats. The cherry on top? He has no idea what’s happening or who’s who or what anything means. This intersection between confusion and powerlessness is where the comedy ensues. It’s also where the story begins, with Aseo getting rekt by the Tree Sentinel off the rip. You know the one. The golden armored jerk waiting to kick Tarnished ass in Limgrave. That one.
The Road to the Erdtree is a lotta that: Aseo meeting many of the named in-game characters, only for them to berate or pummel him. In Chapter 2, for example, Melina calls Aseo a “dimwit,” so she puts all his runes into the intelligence stat without his consent. Meanwhile, Chapter 3 sees Aseo joining the Patches Gang. Brother Patches is there, yelling at the recruits like a drill sergeant while specifically grilling Aseo, calling him “trash” just like the glass shards he brought in. The Lands Between is as unkind to Aseo as it is to you or me when playing Elden Ring. It’s funnily relatable.
Not everything in the manga lines up with the game, though. Take Blaidd, for instance. Half-wolf, half-man, you’d expect him to have a sharp nose and an even sharper sword. Only one of those facets is true as Tobita wrote the guardian wolf as a bumbling idiot, someone who has no sense of direction and “can’t help but chase” round things (because he’s a good boy). Godrick the Grafted isn’t as menacing in the manga as he is in the game, either, preferring “trendy” things and working with his goons to “make the next grafting something we can all be proud of.” Aw, teamwork. Cute.
This is why I love The Road to the Erdtree so much. It isn’t a retelling of Elden Ring’s story so much as a reimagining of it, existing in lock-step with the game to deepen our understanding of the lore. Characters talk way more in the manga and you get a semblance of the relationship between them. (Did you know Blaidd and Bloodhound Knight Darriwil started a Ranni the Witch fan club?) On top of that, The Road to the Erdtree’s levity helps ground the game’s comedy. I mean, it isn’t hilarious seeing the “You Died” screen over and over, but there are plenty of laughs to be had in Elden Ring, especially if you release the pressure and don’t take it seriously. The manga doesn’t.
The Road to the Erdtree is free on the manga webzine Comic Walker. The first two chapters are permanently available, while subsequent chapters are only readable for a two-week period. So if you miss them, then you miss them. However, YouTuber Miss Chalice has been narrating the previous chapters, making that the best method to catch up when you miss out.