In a time for gaming where there are some really great action RPG’s coming out like Shadow of War, it is hard to release a great game next to titles like that one. Piranha Bytes Studios is releasing an action-RPG by the name of Elex. If you are familiar with their work, they have created such highly acclaimed RPG titles like Risen and Gothic. Where sequels to these games weren’t widely praised as their predecessors, the same trend doesn’t really fall for Elex. For the lack of better terminology, Elex is rough at the very best. To my understanding, other games from Piranha Bytes (PB for later) operate in a similar fashion. There are just so many things that Elex doesn’t exactly nail on the head.
The story goes as follows. You are on the world of Magalan. Magalan is struck by a comet containing Elex, which is some sort of new element. People flock to the new element and start using it for different reasons. The people end up becoming mutated by the Elex because they can’t harness it’s power. The ones that are able to take the Elex without having any side affects are called the Albs. The Albs are the bad guys in this story, they want to wipe everyone out that can’t take Elex like they can, you know, a sort of master race kind of ideal. The other factions in the game are the Berserkers, which use the Elex to do different Magicks. They wield old style weapons from swords and axes and wear leather and metal smithed armor. The clerics used the Elex to develop advanced weapons and technology. The last faction are the Outlaws, cutthroat raiders that will do whatever it takes to stake their claim. Your character, Jax, was a former Alb, betrayed and left for dead by his brother. Your aim is to find out why you were abandoned and betrayed by your own people.
The game drops you into a tutorial esque scenario. You run into a berserker that helps you through to the first city. Now, where can I begin with this. The world of Elex is beautiful and large. There are plenty of different terrains across the world map. The areas are well detailed, apart from some textures that clipped in and out in certain areas. The next thing to notice was the animations on the characters. Walking and running felt clunky throughout the world. Falling from one floor to another put the character into a prone stance with no animation to him. The character models do look nice though, bar the janky animations. Your companion teaches you how to fight as well as giving you some equipment. Now, in most other RPG’s, you get gear sufficient enough to take care of yourself for awhile. I was given a rusty axe, some health packs and I ended up finding a bow. You also receive a jetpack, which is a godsend. The jet pack will allow you to get out of hairy combat situations, traverse tall mountains and fall slowly with a safe descent.
The combat in Elex, has potential to be something really great, but isn’t exactly executed very well. Now, objectively, I can say that around 25 people worked on this game and look at it that way. From that metric, yes the game is done well for a team that small. I have to look at this like I approach every game though. So, with that said, let us continue. The combat relies on stamina management and a “combo” system. I played the game on Xbox One, you the combat controls are as follows. You use right bumper to unsheathe your weapon as well as your quick attack. Right trigger controls your heavy attacks. If timed right, you will execute a series of attacks that builds your combo meter, eventually being able to unleash a special attack with your weapon. The mutated enemies you find can be brutal, that is because there is no scaling in the game. Be ready to run into enemies that will one shot you.
Now, the lack of hand holding isn’t upsetting to me, I actually appreciate that. What I had a problem with was the low amounts of experienced gained in the beginning and the gear presented to me. It took awhile just to find the smith’s that had new gear for me, but I couldn’t get anything because I didn’t have enough Elexit to purchase it. The level up system in Elex feels kind of dated, but, is unique in it’s own respect. It has been since Vanilla World of Warcraft that I was spending currency to purchase my skills at certain trainers. This is the only way to use your ability points. This is truly an RPG to spend a lot of time in, if you can get passed all of the discrepancies with it. Within a few minutes of entering the first city, I had plenty of quests to keep me busy. Due to the lack of scaling, I had to be pretty careful which route I took. This took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I was on the right track. Elex almost forces you to do side quests before making your way through the main story quests. The character dialogues are fully voiced, even though the animations don’t really match the words at times.
The decisions you make affect your gameplay experience as well. NPC characters will remember decisions that you make and they will affect the outcome of different quests. Doing these side quests is what you will need to do to get enough experience and Elexit to gear yourself up for the main quests. Elex, in it’s core, has a solid RPG hiding out somewhere. Hiding behind all of it’s issues lies something with a lot of potential. I can respect what the team over at PB has done with this title. It seems as though it is going to ride the coattails of it’s more successful brothers in the genre though. I plan on dropping the difficulty down a tad and trying to trek through more of the game in my free time because I can appreciate the RPG that they are trying to convey here. I would definitely recommend trying this one out, or picking it up at a cheaper price. Needless to say, I am upset that Elex turned out the way it did, here’s to hoping PB will patch through some updates to fix somethings. This definitely caters to the more hardcore fans of this subset of role playing games.
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