Elea – Review
Follow Genre: Experimental, Adventure Experience
Developer: Kyodai Ltd
Publisher: SOEDESCO Publishing
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

Elea – Review

Site Score
5.5
Good: Damn, those models and graphics!
Bad: What are these controls and cameras?
User Score
5.6
(7 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.6/10 (7 votes cast)

Space, the final frontier. Unless you count the weird stuff that’s going on in Elea, where space is just as much of a deal as the mysteries surrounding the main character, Elea. Her mind is like a space of its own kind for you to explore, and there are probably just as many new, unexpected things there for you to find. Follow a futuristic exploration adventure and sit back for an experimental ride. 

Story

Elea is the story about a woman with the same name. In a futuristic setting that’s taking place in the twenty-second century, you follow her as she is working on a space-ship to find her husband, as well as seeing some memories through her eyes. It’s a chaotic story due to the experimental nature of the game. It partially explores the subconscious, making it hard to say what’s going on at times, but alternating between these dreamscapes and reality, you get the story like puzzle pieces bit by bit.

It’s not the best story, and certainly not the clearest storyline. But what it does alright is peek your interest in what is going on by using some early mysteries and information that ask for a better exploration of the information ahead. To give a clear example, at some point you will see Elea being pregnant. Later on, this isn’t mentioned for some time. You do know by this time that humanity set out to find an answer to a neurological mutation that makes children very hostile. More information like this links up criss-cross as you progress down a (very) linear path where most you can do is sit back and follow the tracks.

Graphics

It has to be said, Elea did really, really well on the graphics. The models seem to be as slick as an Apple product designer would make them out to be, and that for a hypothetical future! It’s some top-notch design where a lot of items themselves tell you something about the age people are living in. Houseplants are floating on green light-emitting platforms as they slowly rotate, a lot of Neon-like light is being used, and the initial interior design alone would be something that a modern architect would be proud of.

Besides these models and textures, there are experimental cutscenes and surreal landscapes for you to watch, and they all seem otherworldly. The graphics are, without a doubt, the very best thing Elea has to offer. If you want a reason to check the game out, it would be to enjoy the immersive beauty of the world you find yourself in.

Sound

Most of the voices in the game deserve a compliment. They sound human or highly developed artificial as intended, and they sound like actual people with real backgrounds, which is more than the written story makes them out to be. They are people who worry about things. Only sometimes when a silly ”Oh!” comes out as Elea gets scared, it seems less immersive, but otherwise a good job! The other sounds and background music can be described as atmospherical and help you in the game as you watch the scenery and listen to people talking. Between a lightning storm and a soft new age-type of background music, the sound section as a whole works out pretty fine.

Gameplay

Elea is a highly experimental ”experience” game. This means that there is actually not much gameplay involved, but instead, you have to go along for the ride as you progress through a surreal, linear story where you play in memories as well as in space. Playing, in this case, means walking around a lot and looking at things. On occasion, you will pick up an item you can use somewhere, but there are barely any mechanics present.

One of the weirdest, inexcusable aspects of the gameplay in Elea is that you move slow as hell. We’re talking snail-like slow here. Elderly people walking up stairs-type of slow. Especially when you literally walk up some stairs at the start of the game. First, it seems like it was done cause Elea is pregnant when you start to play, but even if that’s the case, you’ve probably never seen a pregnant person walk this slow. After the initial surprise, you realize quickly this will be the case for the rest of the game. There’s a ”run” button that should make you run but feels like you are moving at a steady walking pace like a normal person instead. The stupid thing about this is that you are not even allowed to run in a lot of areas, making it furiously frustrating if you are not in the mood to hold a button for a minute to walk through a hallway.

It feels like these implements of restricted snail-zones are somewhat of a solution to make sure the game doesn’t break or bug out instead of having an actual function in gameplay or story. Combined with the camera sometimes being a bit wonky in a cutscene or different perspective, it doesn’t feel like a fix for a bug at all. Instead, it feels like a quick cover-up that’s too weird to be in a released game like this. Especially when there is already practically no gameplay present, and you want to be in for the ride, you expect what little mechanics are presented for you to use feel natural and don’t hold you back in the experience you are here for. Whatever the reason might be, it’s not good as it is now.

The frustration gets even stronger at times that the game makes you walk up and down parts simply because of lame assignments such as ”go find a key” without knowing where to go exactly, making you walk in circles. Sometimes it can be as simple as needing to look at a certain aspect of the scene you are in, and to spend minutes rotating aimlessly around a room before finding this is simply not fun anymore if you are done watching the objects and environment around you.

Conclusion

Elea is much more of an artsy experience in a beautiful world where the modeling and the environmental atmosphere really rock your socks off. A strong second place goes to the voice acting which is pretty well done combined with the other sounds. That being said, the game plays like a painfully slow moving-simulator where it feels like you are rehabilitating at every step of the way, and the story probably isn’t enough to keep your interest peaked long enough to keep holding buttons as you wait for your character to move towards her goal. Even by just changing the speed, the game could have already been a lot better as the concept it is, yet right now it’s mostly annoying.

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Rating: 5.6/10 (7 votes cast)
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Elea - Review, 5.6 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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