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Revisiting Elex

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I remember playing Elex when it first launched a few years back. I even wrote a review that I plan on updating to my current format. I felt like playing a good B grade RPG and they don’t get much better than Piranha Bytes so I decided to play Elex again and I’m enjoying it much more now than I did when I first played it.

I’ve really enjoyed the 30 hours I’ve put into Elex so far. It’s really refreshing to play an old school RPG that doesn’t hold your hand and make you OP within the first 5 hours of playing. In Elex, you can’t kill shit when you first start. You’ll die from the smallest critters and won’t be able to properly defend yourself for about 20 hours. This is a hardcore, old school RPG and I love it. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s exactly what I was looking for in an RPG right now. I’ve died more times than I can count, but once I joined a faction and got some faction gear I was able to hold my own against almost any enemy.

In Elex, you play as Jax, a former commander of the Albs until he’s betrayed and shot down and left for dead. He survives and goes on a mission to find out why they shot him down and to seek revenge. In order to do so, he’ll need allies and gear so he decides to join one of three factions. The Outlaws, Berserkers, or Clerics. The unique thing about Elex is that the game will play vastly different according to the faction you choose to join. Do you want to use guns and all sorts of Mad Max type weapons and armor? Then choose the Outlaws. Do you want your average fantasy setting? Then choose the Berserkers while the Clerics have the most interesting faction with their Sci-FI weaponry and armor.

During my first playthrough, I was a cleric and now I’m a Berserker even though my heart was telling me to play as the Outlaws. My Berserker is really good though even though magic kind of sucks at first. It takes a lot of investment to make your character good and you can’t just focus on one thing because every piece of equipment requires a certain amount of stats for you to wear. This means that if you want to wear the higher tier armor that you’ll eventually unlock you’ll need to invest a lot into your constitution stat. Do you want to be a better spell caster? Then invest in cunning. cunning is also required for persuasion with intelligence.

This game has a lot of deep RPG mechanics and I really enjoyed building my character. My highest stat is cunning because I want my magic to deal as much damage as possible. The world is designed really well too. My exploration is often rewarded with neat items, weapons, and armor or materials that I can use to upgrade my gear at a workbench or, if I was an Outlaw, create entirely new weapons out of. Most side quests tell a really good story, has great dialogue, and branching decisions that affect the outcome of the quest and how certain important NPCs will view your character. I decided to steal an heirloom from the Berserkers for a thief and as a result, I had to work harder to earn their trust so I could join their order.

The gameplay is where things kind of go downhill. Pyranha Bytes is really good at creating interesting worlds to explore filled with interesting characters to meet, but the gameplay in their games always takes a backseat and the gameplay in Elex really took the backseat. The gameplay in this game can be very frustrating. It feels like an RPG that released in 2007 over one that released in 2017. While this doesn’t really bother me all that much it most likely will bother some of you reading this and you should know what you’re potentially getting into.

The gameplay here is fine. It’s not good and it’s not bad. It’s average and there’s so much more to this game than the combat that I can look past that because I’m so invested in the world that Pyranha Bytes created. It really is the best part of this game.

Elex is underrated in my opinion. Most people shat on it because it released in a banger of a year in gaming (2017), but outside of Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Mass Effect Andromeda I would probably place Elex third or fourth on my list of best RPGs that released that year. It’s a really good game that got a lot of hate. Graphically, I think Elex has aged really well. The character models are just okay, but the world, lighting, shadows, all look really, really good.

Elex is currently on sale on Steam for those of you that want to give this game a chance. I highly recommend it for the price it’s currently at. I think if you can look past the fact that this isn’t a triple-A RPG you’ll enjoy it. Especially if you’ve enjoyed Piranha Byte’s previous games in the Gothic and Risen franchises.

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