Elli – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer
Developer: BandanaKid
Publisher: BadanaKid
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Elli – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Charming visuals, Limited amount of RPG elements, Casual gameplay
Bad: First hour is tedious, First mechanics introduced become obsolete, No voice-acting, Tiny pathways
User Score
8.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.8/10 (4 votes cast)

The original platform games go way back to the late 70s, early 80s but the modern take on platform games is combined with adventure and puzzles, with plenty of jumps taken and a wicked amount of deaths. It is a genre that will always be popular, and Elli fits in that category quite well, but can it really reach the high bar games such as Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and Rachet & Clank has set?

Story

It’s a memorable day as everyone gathers to celebrate Elli’s birthday. Well, everyone except for Ghasti who is seething with jealousy. With the celebrations in full swing, Elli has lowered her guard, an act that’s not unnoticed by Ghasti. While the Guardian is not paying attention, Ghasti manages to steal five crystals and Elli is forced to go after her as it is her duty to keep the crystals safe to prevent doom. Elli crosses towns, dungeons, mazes and lava pits in the pursuit but Ghasti’s careless nature is proving to be more difficult as she drops crystals along the way. Unattended crystals open time rifts Elli must close before it destroys the world. The clock is ticking. If the crystals are not reunited before the witching hour, the world will end. Tick. Tock.

Graphics

Visually Elli is a very pleasing game with well-crafted details and different settings in a 3D platform experience. The graphics are simply charming. Certain areas in the game become a side-scrolling 2D experience, a wonderful graphical feature. There is one down-side to the appealing side of the game though, and that is that you are playing with a fixed camera from an isometric point of view. Most of the times it is fine as it follows Elli perfectly, and the game provides a see-through feature, but certain areas should be explored thoroughly, and it would have been a much nicer experience if you could change the camera angle.

Sound

Charming visuals should be accompanied by charming sounds, and the ambiance sound is certainly charming as it features a relaxing instrumental soundtrack. Even during timed events, the soundtrack never really changes pace. The same cannot be said about the sound effects as the jumping sound Elli makes is always the same and after the hundredth jump, you’ll grow tired of it. The timed events and bombs do have a ticking sound to make it all that more exciting, but it fails to do so. Elli does not have voice-overs, not for the characters nor narrating and although there isn’t much dialogue in the game, it would have been nice to listen to something other than an alienated language and the endless “HEH” sounds Elli makes when jumping or landing again.

Gameplay

Elli is a puzzle platformer with a limited amount of controls to use and they are not the most comfortable either. Moving around with Elli is done by using the left stick whilst you can jump on platforms with the B-button. So far so good. However, interacting with items and characters is done with the Y-button, putting the items done is also done with the Y-button after you’ve interacted with them whilst throwing them is done with the X-button. Canceling an action can be done with the A-button. Additionally, using Elli’s staff pulse is done with ZL or ZR whilst using her ability (dash) is set to the A-button as well. This setup isn’t the most memorable one and you cannot change the controls to suit your preferred playstyle. You could flip the A and B buttons but honestly, that just makes things worse.

Furthermore, Elli comes with a very limited amount of RPG elements, if you can even call them RPG elements. Throughout the levels, you can gather colored gems. Each color gives a specific amount of points, similar to how the gems work in Spyro. With these gems, you can buy five different robes and four different staves to change your appearance. There’s a second currency with which you can buy five hats.

On to the actual gameplay now. In the first hour or so, you’ll be spending most time fetching color orbs which you need to activate on a platform, raising another pillar somewhere which you need to access the next color orb. There are four color orbs to collect but the puzzles don’t always require you to use all four, especially not at the same time. This color mechanic is certainly not original, we’ve seen something similar in Earthlock: Festival of Magic before and we’re pretty sure there are many more games out there using a mechanic very similar.

Whilst using a mechanic that is not authentic is not necessarily bad, it is questionable to implement it if the mechanic becomes obsolete. Especially as it is such a boring mechanic, and many will be tempted to quit the game rather than suffer through it. We promise it gets better. Instead of the color orbs, other puzzle elements are introduced such as switches, keys to open locked gates, and teleport platforms. The game becomes a bit more adventurous when dangerous elements are added such as shooting arrows, stone statues spitting fire, invisible tiles, and crumbling platforms. At this point, we truly felt like we were playing a puzzle platformer.

There are still traces of orbs, mostly hidden in “secret” areas but these are not the colored orbs from before. As a substitute for raising pillars, a new mechanic comes forward in the form of times events. Using Elli’s Staff Pulse, pulsing orbs will be visible. Once all orbs have been captured before time runs out, a platform will rise. Whilst timed events could be a great experience, these are not. They are timed to the very second, so if you miss one jump or simply took one wrong step, you’ll be forced to do it again. And again. Once more.

We’ve already mentioned that Ghasti is careless and sometimes drops a crystal. When this happens, a time rift is opened, and Elli is forced to time walk these peculiar universes. During these time rifts, you’ll gain two new abilities we would have loved throughout the entire game: double jump and dash. These time rifts are also timed events, but these are a great experience because they are like the boulder levels in Crash Bandicoot. Keep going or die trying – those are timed events we are excited for.

While the colored orbs can be boring and the timed events can be frustrating, Elli has another feature that is most discouraging. Falling off pathways. The amount of times we plummeted to our deaths is embarrassing really but the paths are often so small, it requires only two steps to reach the air. Luckily Elli has three lives, although this feature is quite useless. Dying by the dangers of the environment will take a life and once all three lives are gone, you’ll be forced to start at the beginning. However, the game also comes with checkpoints and fall damage does not take a life. Additionally, one life point is given once you’ve passed the checkpoint. And any deaths that did not occur by environment damage will result in respawning at these checkpoints. It would have been best to have one or the other, but certainly not both.

Conclusion

As a puzzle platformer, Elli is a decent game although the starting hour is rather boring. Once you’ve pushed through the tedious part of the game, it becomes increasingly better. The puzzles are not too demanding and most of the gameplay is straightforward which makes it a casual game but with plenty of annoyances such as timed events that are timed to the very second or pathways that are too small. It does have charming visuals and the switch between 3D isometic and 2D platformer styles is a really nice touch. Overall, we can recommend this game, but it is not something that you will be missing out on if you decide against it.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Elli – Review, 8.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Drydwen
Drydwen


Hi! I'm Jess and I’m a writer, dreamer and gamer at heart since the early ages. I primarily game on PC but occasionally also on PS4 and Xbox One. I have a tiny obsession for World of Warcraft and caterpillars but you may also claim I have a devoted passion for the gaming industry in general. If you want to hit me up, find me on twitter!

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