ELEX – Review
Follow Genre: Open world RPG, Action
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: Xbox One

ELEX – Review

Site Score
6.7
Good: A highly immersive, detailed world
Bad: Vague, weird communication in gameplay and mechanics.
User Score
8.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The world can always use new elaborate RPGs, the equivalent of interactive books. Making choices, reading, getting yourself immersed in a world different from ours. Most proper RPGs get a fanbase behind them, and Piranha Bytes already has such a fanbase by the previously created Gothic and Risen series. No wonder fans were delighted when they heard about ELEX, a new game that was being worked on to make you struggle in a post-apocalyptic world with a twist.

Elex_Logo

Story

A meteor crashed into Magalan, a planet similar to earth destroying the Old World. With the meteor, a new element was spread across the world. An element called Elex (yes, hence the name of the game). People quickly discovered that using Elex gave them great power, though not everybody could handle it. Some used it as an energy source, some to enhance their bodies while some became consumed by it and started mutating. Those who could handle the Elex in their bodies became known as a faction called the Albs. Emotionless as a side effect of the Elex usage, but with great power, they started to fight a war to conquer all. You, commander Jax, used to be an Alb commander, but upon failing a mission you were given a no-mercy execution by your own brother. Miraculously surviving the execution, you find yourself without any of your gear, but with a slight amount of regained emotions due to the Elex that has left your body.

Elex 4

You start a quest through many zones of Magalan to find answers about what happened and come across the factions who took it upon them to shape the world as they see fit. In the remnants of the old world, literally meaning you sometimes will find wrecked cars, metal, buildings or i.e. toys from a time long gone, you can find the factions building new lives or solo adventurers building a new life for themselves. The factions are: The Berserkers, Viking-like people trying to reclaim the world with magic and nature, disgusted by technology. The Outlaws, People surrounded by Mad Max and Borderlands vibes, seeing themselves as free individuals who use the Elex as a drug to free their minds. The Clerics, half religious people who spend their lives improving technology, and The Albs. Now, besides the factions and the main storyline of Jax, the protagonist, there are many NPC’s in this game that will fill the background story of the world and the factions by talking to them and doing side-quests. These NPCs make the world rather rich and explorable, comparable to a massive game such a Skyrim or any MMORPG.

Graphics

First a great positive thing. The world of Magalan is truly magnificent. The different factions their influences, combined with the pre-meteor world’s props and environmental ruins truly make for a believable set. Barely any building looks duplicated and you are able to get to know an entire world. The quality of the graphics is a bit lower though. It seems outdated. The roughness of the models, as well as most animations, don’t seem to be much of a game that came out in 2017. Sometimes there are a few nice fog effects here and there but in general, the game doesn’t really add anything to the current state-of-the-art. It actually falls behind quite a bit. The interfaces and options are quite chaotic as well, even making just four usable shortcuts on the console versions, which is far from enough to keep the game fluent and logical in graphic communication.

Elex 1

Sound

Your character is quite emotionless in his voice. It’s one of the first things you will notice. Okay, his background story being an ex-Elex addict might justify this, but other characters sometimes also sound very emotionless. It’s only every now and then that a good voice shows up that even seems to fit the NPC you are talking to. For the others, you could be fooled into thinking they only used one person to talk for all of them. The background music and sound effects generally are okay in an atmospheric sense, but also don’t give the idea there’s been a lot of budget for any sound development at all.

Gameplay

ELEX is an open world RPG, by the makers who also made the Gothic series, a different bunch of RPGs. The most interesting experience when starting ELEX is that you will probably be totally lost. Not only because of the giant world where every different looking corner screams to be explored, but also because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of guidelines or introduction. You lose your gear and soon find back your jetpack that you use to kind of hover around mountains and countrysides, but there is no indication which enemy is beatable or how the best path is being followed to gain upgrades and better equipment. Normally in these type of games, there are plenty of ways to get money, plenty of loot to go around and sell as it is mostly useless. In ELEX, you are totally screwed. There is not enough money, you will suddenly die because of an enemy that looks the same but has five times the amount of health than in a different area, and you will be stuck with bad weapons and no easy way to progress at all at the start.

Elex 3

As an example, you get ten attribute points every level you go up. These 10 go into strength, constitution, intelligence etc. The usual. However, they don’t really affect your immediate abilities. They are required for equipment and to get skills. But even if you get the required, say, strength and constitution to upgrade a skill such as ”armor” , giving you 10% extra armor each time you try to level it, you still need to find a trainer, pay him (a pretty large) amount of money, and barely get anything out of it. There are so many skills available for you to invest skill points in, and so little explanation, that every small mistake will cost you a huge deal. This is also a bit of the thin red line in the gameplay. Small mistakes costing you big time. There is such an imbalance between wanting to try out stuff that you can buy and learn compared to the amounts of money and resources you get. For some people this might be considered a challenge they were looking for, even being punished for choosing the ”wrong” answers in a conversation with an NPC, for others, it might make the game very hard to play.

Not only this, but the combat is slightly weird and lodged tight. You lock onto an enemy and whip a melee combo, shoot a weapon or cast a spell at them, depending on the factions and items you chose. Still, if you don’t figure out a path fitting you early on in the game, you will always feel terribly weak. Luckily there are companions, more important NPCs who not only give you special quests but also help you out in fights as you travel through the vast plains and dense forests. But it can hardly be meant for you to run and dodge an enemy in the hopes your companion (with rusty A.I.) will kill the bad guys for you. It’s just a weird aspect of the game that it communicates badly on many fronts that give it a lot of its charm as well as a lot of frustration, or in the worst case, boredom.

Elex 2

Conclusion

ELEX is a fascinating game in many ways. Not only because of the beautiful variations in the world and factions, but also because of the weird communicative skills the game has. The player is left with so many options, yet gets held back by way more vague enemies and mechanics. The player will feel this holding back without a doubt, and it’s such a giant shame cause the allure of the world truly is very big. Hopefully, there will be some patches fixing a lot of these things very fast, cause there is an amazing amount of potential lurking in the Elex covered world.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
ELEX - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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