Analysis of ELEX. Missed potential

Written by Kamran Haider

Embrace the magic and kill your enemies with a sword stroke, let yourself be seduced by technology to become a heartless killing machine, or simply loot, steal in the skin of an outlaw to achieve victory with the stolen booty. In the new RPG of the authors of Gothic and Risen, you are free to act as you please, and it’s great !, but this analysis of ELEX also brings out the black dots of a video game that aspired to much more.

Freedom. To be able to do what you want … taking care of the consequences. How well it sounds, how good it looks in the description of the great role adventures, but how few video games are able to make you feel, really, that your actions clearly influence the evolution of the action, in the lives of all those characters that swarm happily through the virtual worlds that we like to explore so much. Piranha Bytes, authors of Gothic or Risen, are one of the few studies that understand well the transcendence of these words and know how to reflect in all their works. THE EXIt is not an exception but as it has happened with the last projects of the German team, it also suffers from the same technical and playable problems that in one way or another end up subtracting a great attraction to the final set. Do not misunderstand me.

I am fascinated by the colossal size of Mágalan, the post-apocalyptic world to which we are transported, and I truly admire the freedom of action that they offer us as soon as we start our journey in the skin of Jax, one of the high commanders of the Albos army., basically the villains, who have been betrayed and seriously injured by their own being completely disarmed and without special abilities. An unoriginal excuse to start an RPG that in the plot, and in the very design of their science fiction universe, with some fantasy, it is wrong to be that same, unoriginal; too typical by current standards. It is not something that bothers me excessively although it does reduce its appeal by presenting its story with a somewhat irregular, clumsy narrative, without the excitement expected from a videogame of these characteristics.

It has its moments, its prominent characters, but in general lines, the parents of Gothic do not finish giving the exact key that makes you fall in love with the chaotic world in which they let you loose almost without limitations … which is precisely what I value most of the video game. You can go wherever you want, as you want and whenever you want, always bearing in mind that your actions, your way of proceeding, will leave a mark on the inhabitants of Mágalan. You will be able to admire them for your needs, but you can also cause them to hate you, to go to death for you or, out of simple negligence, for someone important to lose their life leaving you without the possibility of knowing their history, of facing missions and challenges I had saved for you. You really feel inside a living world, that grows with you,

Magic? Technology? Whatever you decide!

As in a good cooking recipe, ELEX has all the ingredients to become a great RPG, but the development team has gone hand in the kitchen and has ended up missing the shot where they should have done less, presenting a combat system something awkward, squared, which at times can even be frustrating. The movements of the hero and his enemies are crude, orthopedic, which in some way makes it difficult for you to fully enjoy battles that combine the use of firearms with swords and even magic. On paper the idea is wonderful, more when you can run combos, special attacks, blocks, dodges and even use the jetpack, a wonderful exploration tool, to hit opponents also from the sky. It can be exciting, sometimes it is, but the lack of fluency in these battles; the feeling that you do not have total control of the situation, ends up becoming a major problem.

We appreciate the variety of weapons, which you can specialize in various combat styles, but if these bad feelings add some enemies with an artificial intelligence little lucid, that also affects our allies, or that in battles against several rivals the action becomes tortuous due to certain problems with the system of setting objectives, it costs not to feel tremendously disappointed. Despite the good ideas and the many options that you have at your fingertips, the fights in ELEX are not especially fun and this, in a video game where there are so many matches, is serious. Pity. And I say it sincerely. Use swords, axes, bows … or bet on grenades, pistols, flamethrowers or laser weapons is an unparalleled show that does nothing but improve when in between you can also use magic to surprise the rivals with fantastic special abilities. Everything will depend on how you distribute the experience points, of course, but mainly on thefaction, you decide to follow.Technology

Despite the good ideas and the many options, the fights are not especially fun.

The options are not very original although they fulfill very well with the expected. We have the Berserkers, renegades of technology who bet on knives and magic; the Clerics , a society that grows around the technology and thus make use of it to create deadly tools of mass destruction; the Outlaws , a lawless society whose greatest virtue is its ability to create, modify and personalize any weapon they find in their path; and finally the Albos, of course, the great enemy to beat; a militarized faction that uses Elex, a precious raw material capable of endowing those who consume it with unparalleled power … until they end up succumbing to it, like a drug, and lose control of their bodies. It is not something that affects the Albos, and that is why they are such a tough opponent to beat.

Unfortunately, the game of Piranha Bytes does not allow you to ally with more than one faction and, therefore, when you opt for one or the other, you are giving up on acquiring the most outstanding special weapons and abilities of the other factions. Sometimes it is a hard trance because, in some way, they limit you when creating the character that you like the most. And that there are options !, Although the video game sin of a poor user interface helps little to understand and enjoy all of them. With your experience points you can strengthen the strength, dexterity, intelligence … and with it acquire the necessary knowledge to use certain types of weapons, magic or perfect your dialectical skills; and then you have the talents, a wide variety of skills that you must learn from the masters that you find in the many cities that make up the world of Mágalan, and that delve even further into the possibilities of personalization of our adventurer.

It’s great to get lost in a post-apocalyptic world like the one that recreates this video game.

I do not like it so much that in the initial compasses of the adventure there is so little room for improvisation. Convincing others through the gift of the word, for example, is a resource that until well in advance of the game will not really be effective, staying many times with the feeling that some options, certain skills, are not fully exploited. And it’s not that ELEX is a linear adventure that forces you to follow a single path. By power, you can create your own weapons, potions, and defensive equipment, or improve and enhance the skills you already have in your power. The problem? What he said before. The user interface is terrible, to the point that we do not even have a tab to see the equipment our protagonist uses. The aesthetics are not bad but at a functional level … it is difficult to make it worse.

ELEX does not surprise with the design of missions, which are usually too typical tasks, simple, which does not accompany a good argument base that at least incite us to move forward. Of course it’s great to get lost in a post-apocalyptic world like the one that recreates this video game and, of course, there are missions that are really good and are capable of thrilling with their action, but they are the least. You can see the veteranity of Gothic authors when it comes to creating a fantastic gaming environment with lots of secrets to discover and great adventures to live, but when it comes to telling a good story and making it interesting … this RPG is far from what was seen in other recent titles.

He does not lack anything! It really surprises the variety of options that it offers and its freedom of action, but when it comes to combining all these elements, Piranha Bytes does not finish reaching the levels of the genius of other more recent role adventures. Although it is a video game with which you enjoy, and much, their problems and shortcomings never stop splashing in your face. And I go beyond the merely visual, where it is clear, ELEX is a discreet video game. There is a lot of craftsmanship, good taste designing the vast world of Mágalan by hand, but the overall finish and, in particular, the poor modeling and animations of the characters, are difficult to cope with. More than anything because in a way, it also affects the playable with a crude control system, battles for frustrating moments, slowdowns on Xbox One and PS4, and some allies that can stand at any moment, watching, while we suffer the attack of enemies who are not particularly smart either.

Is it a recommended game or not? Yes … but with nuances. It is a good RPG, with a lot of potentials, that can keep you stuck to the PC or the console for more than 50 hours. And the adventure continues once the story is complete ! so there is a game to play. Especially because your decisions change the course of a story, translated into Spanish, which in some moments can come as a surprise. With some updates the video game will polish some of the errors cited here and then, the experience will improve. However, there are other aspects that seem difficult to be improved and that is what somehow makes ELEX a great missed opportunity.

Recommended: Analysis of Etherborn, defying the laws of gravity


It has huge potential but ELEX does not know how to take advantage of it. His freedom of action and the vast post-apocalyptic world that allows him to explore almost without limitations are not enough to bring success to an RPG that does not measure up in capital aspects like his combat system, at times frustrating, or the quality of his argument, which is too generic. The new video game of the Gothic authors has quality details, it is easy to enjoy with their action, but not as much as you would expect.

  • The freedom of action. You can do whatever you want
  • Your post-apocalyptic world and how your actions influence it
  • The mixture of magic with technology.
  • Misguided mission design and too generic an argument
  • The combat system has serious shortcomings
  • Deficient user interface, audiovisual work and console slowdowns

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Kamran Haider

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