Elex is Piranha Bytes latest RPG and… It’s what you would expect from this company. That’s both a good and bad thing.
This is how you design an open world! The world that Piranha Bytes has built for us to explore is nothing short of fantastic. The various different locales, factions, side quest, and secrets for us to find are well placed. I love the enemy respawn mechanic in this game. After I kill an enemy something completely different can spawn in its place. It could be a weaker enemy or something a lot stronger. This prevented me from sticking to one area and grinding.
Elex is a post-apocalyptic game with strong fantasy elements. You can play this game in three different ways. You have your average fantasy locations (berserkers), a Fallout looking wasteland (outlaws), and your sci-fi (clerics) zones to explore and all of them are huge. They’re not really zones. There are no loading screens once you boot the game up. Everything is seamless and I can go from the beginning of the game all way up to where the paladins try and brainwash you into joining their ranks.
As I was exploring I came across rundown apartments, and cars. It’s been overtaken by the forest as time passed by. I’ve walked around in large deserts, explored icy settlements, and went to the volcanic region of the clerics to join their order. There is a lot to explore in this game and it’s all very interesting and handcrafted to perfection.
I briefly touched on the three main factions in this game. The beserkers, clerics, and outlaws. Each faction has a completely different playstyle. The berserks are your traditional fantasy faction. You get swords, bows, and magic to use in combat. The outlaws are your Mad Max/Fallout faction. You get guns, brutal looking melee weapons, and crafting. Crafting plays a heavy role with the outlaws. The clerics are your Sci-Fi faction. If you like future tech, like I do, you’ll probably want to play as these guys. You get access to mechs, laser weapons, bad ass looking armor sets and much more. They are the strongest faction in the game followed by the beserkers. The outlaws are the weakest faction, but the game is totally playable with them too. You just have to depend on crafting to make an impact while other factions don’t.
Elex is a very good looking game. The world looks amazing at times, but the character models are really dated. It’s hard to get completely immersed in a game that feels this old. If this game had released in 2009 it would have been a game of the year contender. Unfortunately, we’re in 2017 and this company didn’t get the memo to make more modern games. Elex is a mixed bag in this section. Some parts of the game are beautiful while the old, stiff character models aren’t.
Most Open World RPGs get one very important feature wrong. Their cites. You’ll enter a large city and see four or five people running the place. Elex isn’t like that. I was amazed at how many NPCs were going about their daily lives in this game. The cities in this game are packed full of both named and unnamed NPCs that have their own schedule. I loved the exploring the cities here and to avoid giving out spoilers I’ll leave it at that.
Every faction has interesting stories to tell. The ending of the game made me want to start over and play as a different faction. Your companions have deep backstories and quest to accompany them. I was very impressed throughout my playthrough with the amount of story each character I met had in this game. Not all of it is interesting, but a good chunk of it is.
If I had reviewed this game after my first 20 hours of gameplay this would have been in the bad section of this review. You have to be patient with this game. You’re not going to get strong right away and I was constantly reminded of that every time I died from enemies that I thought I could beat. Even after 20 hours of gameplay, I was still avoiding the same enemies that I couldn’t fight at the beginning of the game, but once I joined my first faction and got some decent gear that changed. I was killing shit and I started to see how the gameplay worked. This isn’t a button masher. I can’t button mash myself to victory here. I have to time my shots and attack when I have an opening. The gameplay here will piss a lot of people off and that’s okay. This game isn’t for everyone. For those of you, that stick with it know that it does get better eventually. Your hard work will pay off.
The animation quality is shit. It’s very last generation and it feels like I’m playing those old Risen games again. The animations constantly bugged me throughout my journey in this game. My character was stiff and I died a few times because of it. If Elex 2 every happens Piranha Bytes have better improve the animations or I’ll shit all over the sequel.
I really like the soundtrack here. It’s really nice and fits in the environment that I’m exploring. The voice acting, on the other hand, is hit and miss. Some NPCs sound good while some sound like they have something stuck in their throat and they’re trying to speak over it. Some voices really took me out of the game and made me laugh at how bad it was at times. Blasting someone with a plasma rifle sounds cool though and so does ripping someone apart with my chainsaw sword. Overall the sound quality is good and it’s held back by some minor annoyances.
It Takes Too Long To Get Good:
A casual gamer will not enjoy this game. It takes a long time to get good gear and be able to kill shit in this game. Most of the time you’ll be running from enemies and avoiding every fight you can while you scavenge for gear and complete quest. Questing is the only way to level up in this game. You get experience from killing enemies, but it’s very little and won’t level you up at all.
Not Enough Loot:
All great open world games have great loot hidden in it. Elex does not. It’s a chore getting new gear in this game. The most effective way to get good gear is to buy it. The problem is buying it. You’re not going to have a lot of money for a good portion of the game. A good loot system would really be helpful in this game. There’s an artificial difficulty curb at the start of the game because of the lack of loot I found. This difficulty is increased because every weapon that I found had insane stat requirements. Why does a rifle require 35 in strength? Why not just have a dexterity requirement with low strength. Building my character became a chore because of this and made me consider quitting more than once.
Elex is a good game. It’s not a 4/10. It’s much better than that. This game has a well designed open world with old gameplay. If you can get past that you’ll find a game that’s worth getting into. There’s a lot to like here, but there’s also a lot to dislike. $50 is too high a price to pay for a game that feels so dated by today’s standards. I absolutely recommend buying this game during a sale though.