ELEX – Xbox One Review

Developer Piranha Bytes have released their next ambitious game titled ELEX; an open world RPG Having previously worked on the Risen titles for Xbox 360, this is their first foray onto Xbox One. And what an ambitious project this is. But does it hold up well to today’s standards?

The story begins with an introduction to the world you’re about to step foot in – Magelan; an alternate version of Earth where technology ruled the world, but a devastating comet destroyed most of the planet, with the remaining survivors of the world forming factions in hopes of ruling the world to their own visions. The problem is, the comet brought something different to the world, a new element known as ELEX. This bright blue substance is sought after by all, some consuming too much and turned them into mindless mutants, whereas others have learnt to control it. And with that control, they’re able to conjure up magic, or use ELEX to improve the remaining technology.

elex 1

Throughout the world of Magelan, you’ll come across many a land with folks that inhabit these lands and you’ll learn the way of how they use ELEX. Some folks are helpful, some not so helpful. Some want to collect and control all ELEX and will stop at nothing to gain access to that. These people are known as Albs. And you are were one of them.

You start the game after crashing from his glider jet, stripped of all your gear and ELEX and branded a traitor to the Albs. You’re first quest: find the people responsible for taking your gear and reclaim it. However, that might not be how your story goes. Piranha Bytes have promised us a completely open-world title and you get that right off the cuff, should you choose to. This whole game is based on decisions – decisions that actually matter and not just narrative decisions like the Mass Effect titles. These decisions change the direction you play the game. For example, at the beginning of the game you start to look for the people that took your gear, but you soon bump into a potential friend, who offers you a safe haven, in return, he asks that you work for them. You can choose to trust him…for now and follow him to his camp, or you could be stubborn and decide you want to find your gear, however dangerous that may be. Should you choose to find your gear first, he will leave and you may continue on your search which might lead you to finding other factions or enemies. If you choose to go with him, you’ll learn of ruins nearby where you may find better equipment. You can go off-course and find this equipment with your new friend, or you can continue straight to his camp. The choices are entirely up to you.

As mentioned previously, you can explore the entirety of Magelan right away. You could be high on top of a mountain and see a tower in the distance – you’ll be able to get there one way or another, be it by foot or jumping with your jetpack, that lets you boost further or higher for a short amount of time before it needs to be replenished again. It’s impressive that you’re able to do this with next-to-no loading screen, and the world isn’t exactly small either.

elex 2

Visually, the graphics don’t match that of the top quality AAA titles for this generation, not that it matters. The world around you is detailed to the brim, with places and characters that have story and meaning. Beautiful green fields and woody acres reborn on top of old ruins, thanks to ELEX. Snowy mountains that pose hazardous environments and enemies. In fact, I can’t recall an area I went to where it was just seemingly-endless open fields. Most of it the places are tight and compact, with plenty to look at. Even all of the characters you meet in the game are voice-acted. Some voice actors are brilliant and actually show emotion and meaning to their character, whilst others are monotone, where you can tell that they’re simply reading the script out aloud. But it’s still impressive that the voices are so diverse that none seem to sound like other characters.

The biggest gripe with ELEX though is the combat and movement. If you’ve played one of their Risen titles, you’ll know what I’m talking about and it seems like they haven’t evolved much in that aspect. Combat is slow, even in the opening, fending off simple rats takes a good couple of hits. You block with one button, evade with another and attack with the trigger (these can be altered however), and it’s this system that makes it slow. Sure, the combat gets better as you progress, but you’ll be playing an awfully long time before that happens – that’s if you haven’t got bored of it by then. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities that surround you that let you level up and upgrade your abilities and weapons before fighting the tougher enemies – humans. Evading enemies doesn’t seem as fast as it should be. If you want to quickly escape an enemy attack, you have to be lightning fast, otherwise you’re going to get struck. But once you’re strong enough, you’ll be dealing fatal blows within a couple of attacks.

Overall, this is one ambitious project that pays off well. The problem here is twofold: the combat is weak, and the release of the game came between two big RPG sequels; Shadow of War & The Fractured But Whole, which could seriously impact the game. It’s definitely a brilliant RPG nevertheless, I just don’t see it getting enough recognition as it should, despite the combat flaws – much like their Risen titles.

ELEX is available to purchase from retailers, or can be downloaded digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £44.99.

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