ELEX Review – Just Another Post-Apocalyptic Game

Developer Piranha Bytes, famous for releasing the Gothic and Risen series, announced on Gamescom 2015 that they will be releasing an “edgy, dark, uncompromising and complex” type of video game. Two years later, with heavy teasers and an acceptable trailer. The game is officially out!  I don’t really have a lot of expectations for this game since i haven’t had any experience with either Gothic or Risen series. But little can be said about this game, unfortunately.

Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms Available: Xbox One, PC, PS4
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Price: $59.99
This review is based on a review code provided by THQ Nordic.

Just like any other post apocalyptic type of video games right now – this happened after Earth, in game calls it Magalan, was struck by a comet. Resulting in catastrophic conditions thereafter, cities burned, megastructures destroyed, food sources being scarce rising death tolls in humans which brought about the ugly side of human nature – fighting for survival. After the comet has struck about its destruction, it left a precious and limited alien resource on the planet called Elex and this shall be the center of the upcoming events on the game. Megalan is now governed by four factions, which has their own strong opinion about Elex. Faction Alb, who consumes Elex to get rid of their emotions and gain special abilities and strengths. They decide on cold logic and believes that the weakling need to be sacrificed as a means to an end.

Faction Berserkers who looks like Vikings has found a way to convert Elex into mana and believes in cleansing Magalan by means of planting more trees to cleanse it from Elex and being close to nature. They call out anyone who is using any technology because they prefer using Magic. Faction Cleric believes it a grave sin to consume Elex. Instead uses this to power their machines and weapons – maybe even robots? Last faction is the Outlaws who lives on the wastelands who ravages and scavenges ruins for weapons and equipments to either sell or use it for themselves . They do not have laws like Berserkers or let their emotions get in their decisions. They just live their lives and believes that everything is up for the taking.

The story starts with the protagonist going on a mission which failed miserably and led to his utter execution. He was from an Alb faction and due to this failure, the consequence is  death. I wanted to feel a lot of emotion; maybe sympathy for the character since the decision was uncalled for like it just came out of nowhere – no backstory or anything. Even feelings of retribution since as a faction where everyone should work together to achieve their goals, they didn’t really give importance to a fellow comrade and just decided to kill him at the end. I also would like some flexibility on the games that I play, meaning Piranha Bytes should’ve given players a choice between female and male characters to add more connection to the game.

You couldn’t even customize the face of the Protagonist! Cutscenes weren’t as great as it should be, bugs were so consistent all throughout the gameplay that it got me thinking if I should continue playing. This happened when the Protagonist’s spaceship landed in a terrain where it was just bare and pixelated and it made me think if I was playing a minecraft movie! Then suddenly after a few secs, trees, plants and grasses started popping out. While exploring this open world map, you meet this future Companion character named Duras. He will guide you to his world Edan, where Berserkers thrive and in need of extra hands. Conversations were a drag, good thing you can skip on those and still bugs were present! When either the Protagonist or Duras talk, voices are heard while the mouth stops moving.

It was both hilarious and frustrating to see. Combat system involves the Protagonist the ability to carry guns, bows and melee weapons such as swords, knives, axes and the such. The character battles with evolved dinosaurs or mutated rats as big as a dog to gather resources and to increase their experience that would give them experience points to spend on attributes that helps them survive in this unforgiving map. Still, battle mode is very clunky and I don’t particularly appreciate it that every swing of a melee weapon whether normal or a heavy one and a quick dodge roll requires stamina.

It is challenging at first but it gets frustrating in the long run, especially beginning of the game where you really don’t have the proper gear to protect your life. When you reach Edan, you are greeted with characters that will give you missions that will eventually help you with their in-game money to start buying the gear you need to survive but then again, you are given long useless conversation which drags the gameplay paired with a sticky mouth.

At any rate, with the downside given primarily it doesn’t mean that this piece doesn’t have it’s hidden gems. Just like Bethesda’s Fallout where your decisions has an impact on the game, your conversations will also have their own effect on a potential Companion, indicators will tell you if you have selected the correct response or correct action where your relationship either increases or decreases as  a result. I haven’t really played long enough to see the overall game play being affected by the decisions that I have made but still quite interesting to see that you can’t just make any decisions impulsively. Collection of resources is also uncommon as I compare it with other RPGs since they actually blend on the background, they are not highlighted or anything similar to that. You don’t even have a scanning device nor ability to see if you have resources nearby.

I think this is interesting since you will never know what you will get. Once when I was exploring this ruin, I thought a bottle located on top of the shelves is just nothing but actually it was a health potion and you wouldn’t know this until you are close to the object and the same could be said with their plant resources where albeit you can brew after you have learned some alchemy. Choosing a faction is also interesting since deciding one will now lock the other factions since they despise each other. So you will never know what are the pros and cons in joining. Well, unless of course if you want to go through all of them in all five different walkthroughs! I think it’s a nice addition to the game play since it would be interesting to know what you miss out if you didn’t choose this faction.

To wrap up, the game feels under developed where clearly it needs more time. Graphics wise isn’t something to be happy with it. It has a lot of bugs – clearly unfinished and combat system is something you don’t want to look forward to. Trailer looked really nice but the game just failed to deliver what they mentioned in Gamescon. ELEX being acronyms of Eclectic, Lavish, Exhilarating and Xenial, flashy words but unfortunately it fell short on my expectations and I want to give it another chance but I feel like I will be wasting my time.

ELEX - Review
Score Definition
You better have to choose if it’s worth spending your spare cash, because it might not be the game for you and it might be for others.
Decisions play a role in the gameplay
Clever resource gathering technique
Clunky/Limited Combat mode
Frequent bugs
Unrelatable characters