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ELEX Review

I don’t know where to start with ELEX. The latest game from developer Piranha Bytes sees the merge of different genres in this open world, action RPG that throws players into a science fantasy universe. This sounds nice on paper but in practice ELEX is a poorly designed, poorly executed title that misses the mark on so many occasions.

The story for the game takes place in an open world full of plenty of places to go and interesting things to see. From the three main factions that call this world home to the radioactive monsters that wish to eat you. The setting of ELEX is one of the few elements that feels engaging enough to keep you playing as the story starts with you needing to pick a faction and earn your place with them. As it progresses there are some moments that stand out with the odd twist now and again that will capture your attention but sadly it’s a boring tale overall. Though each faction is different in aesthetic, values and quests, they feel so dissimilar from each other that all the characters you meet seem just as boring as the last because there is no standout or memorable characters catching your eye.

ELEX 01

The player character for a start is by far one of the most ugly and unlikeable, it doesn’t help the game's case. Playing as yet another angry, bald, white male with a voice box that sounds like it was thrown through a blender is, as you would expect, another case of not being able to connect to said character. Though you can build your character in a number of different ways, focusing on a combat style that suits you, it is almost always going to result in a melee fighter. Sadly the ammo and mana needed to carry out powerful magic actions or fire impressive guns are hard to come by leaving you feeling a bit short. Not only that but putting your efforts into ranged will ultimately leaving you at a disadvantage on the defence side. That is once you get your head around the leveling system within the game and its next to unusable menu system which, even after hours of play time was still a nightmare to use.

Combat fails to save the game though as it is rhythm-based melee system is rather dull and feels lackluster. There is also next to no warning for who and what will attack you meaning more often than not you will enter an area just to be killed in one shot. The biggest challenge within ELEX’s combat however is the fight against yourself. You see, controls are not as responsive as they could be meaning you will often see your character do the complete opposite of what you wanted. Rolling was a common action I would see when trying to run forward and to the side. This isn’t helped by the fact the animations within the game are completely awful.

ELEX 02

There are individual ones that feel refined and well-thought out but when in motion, everything just falls apart. You see, all the movement for the character feels like a robot with the jump animation specifically being particularly dreadful. Not to mention the animations and speed at which the character uses their jetpack is even more unsettling. It all feels loose and weightless with only the attacking animations having any sense of weight and impact behind them. Let’s just overlook the bugged vaulting animations that will slide you across the ground to get you into position before painfully performing the action. This might all seem like a nitpick but when you are facing these issues from the moment the game starts then you know it’s going to be a long ride.

Visually though, ELEX is an odd mismatch of art direction. Set in a world that combines both medieval and sci-fi designs in a post-apocalyptic world you expect some clashing. That is fine and honestly the setting is by far the most interesting element within the game. What is a shame though is seeing a river blocked by a random and completely out of place brick wall in the middle of the woods. This is a running theme within the game as set designing isn’t just a clash of ages and culture but rather a poor job at laying out the environment. This continues into the graphics as well with impressive lighting but poor textures and shadows with no noticeable differences on each graphic setting. Thankfully though, besides the load times, performance seems rather stable at this time.

ElEX 03

I would like to talk about some of the positive aspects of the game but there are not many that can be brought to attention. Sure, the world setting and lore is an area that is worth exploring or at least reading about. A fully voiced cast of characters is a nice addition and next to total freedom to explore the world does help. Beyond that, not much else stands out. The game is buggy with plenty of problems in quests, event triggers and even AI. It’s horribly unbalanced and misleading at times as well and the end result is just so poor that you will wonder why you are playing.

To call ELEX a bad game is more than fitting. Though deep down, behind all the trouble, poor performance and unpolished systems lay some interesting and solid ideas for an RPG. They might not be executed as well as they should be nor are they even present as much as I’d like, but they are there. Still, that does not save the game from what is otherwise an unenjoyable mess. If you feel you can overlook the problems then by all means pick up this title but honestly you wouldn’t be missing out on the next big hit if you did skip this one. Hopefully some updates can address some of the troubles but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Also, why is toilet paper the most common item I find when exploring the ruins of the old world?

3.00/10 3

ELEX (Reviewed on Windows)

The game is unenjoyable, but it works.

ELEX is a broken, messy game that might have some interesting ideas deep down but they won't save it. Honestly you are better of avoiding or waiting for the developers to maybe save this title.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Chibi

Chibi

Staff Writer

Married a light cruiser. No, really

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COMMENTS

Acelister
Acelister - 08:34am, 17th November 2017

I don't recall any performance issues, but I have only played a short time in it. 

I was, however, also perplexed by that wall across the river...

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NikkiChan
NikkiChan - 12:59pm, 17th November 2017 Author

The wall across the river was a good five minutes of me being confused before carrying out. Plus that opening curscene was...someting speical. 

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le
le - 01:04am, 21st November 2017

Scarce ammo!? Did you check the traders?

 "There is also next to no warning for who and what will attack you". You can get a perk/sunglasses to show enemies on your radar and they only attack when you get really close so not sure what it means

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NikkiChan
NikkiChan - 08:55pm, 21st November 2017 Author

Finding the traders was a task and a half to be honest. 

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Hoyt
Hoyt - 04:41am, 23rd November 2017

So, you played the game for 30 minutes, got killed three times and that's it - the review is ready. Consider suicide.

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Acelister
Acelister - 07:28am, 23rd November 2017

Since it takes half an hour to even get to Goliet (assuming it lets you get that far), and certainly don't get access to the big guns before that, you're overestimating both his ability in this game and how much one person's opinion matters over your own enjoyment of a videogame.

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Hoyt
Hoyt - 08:28pm, 23rd November 2017

How many times should we forgive polygon-tier incompetence and stupidity with arguements like "video game journalist doesn't have to know how to play video games" and "it is just an opinion"? How the hell did we get to these miserable results?

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Acelister
Acelister - 08:33pm, 23rd November 2017

When were reviews NOT an opinion?

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Hoyt
Hoyt - 08:38pm, 23rd November 2017

It doesn't have to be 100% objective, but it shouldn't be completely inadequate, like this one. 

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Acelister
Acelister - 09:06pm, 23rd November 2017

I'm sure you can help him make future reviews better by telling him why this is inadequate.

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NikkiChan
NikkiChan - 11:14pm, 23rd November 2017 Author

I'm glad my review has encounraged a converstion and I apprectiate your comments and feedback. Seeing as you feel my review fell short of it's mark, please do leave some helpful feedback so my next writing can improve and hopefully met your tatses. Though a personal opioion of the title, all be it negative, your be happy to know the game currently has a 'Mostly Positive' rating on Steam. I hope you have been able to enjoy the game and compare your expereince to that of my own. Thanks!

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LittleBigBoots
LittleBigBoots - 11:16pm, 23rd November 2017

I was super excited about this title, the mix of fantasy and sci fi is amazing. I was quite dissapointed to find the writing and voice acting a bit dissapointing. I mean after being asked if I wanna go to Goilet about three times and responding yes each time doesn't give the NPC a clue I dunno what will!

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Enik
Enik - 12:15am, 25th November 2017

Haha, "angry, bald, white male" says everything that needs to be said.

You're a whiny SJW beta male with an inferiority complex. F yourself and your "review."

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LittleBigBoots
LittleBigBoots - 12:20am, 25th November 2017

You mean generic action hero stereotype grunts and punches stuff?

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Enic
Enic - 05:05am, 25th November 2017

Yea, this guy has no idea what he's talking about. It's not like every other game that comes out is led by some angry dude with a gun or arsenal of other deadly weapons. I mean, I bet I could count on one hand how many games share the same, boring, stereotypical hero.

And of course, because the writer doesn't agree with having the same old hero, we should insult him in any way we can. This makes perfect sense. 

(If it's not obvious by now, I saw your comment, and decided "Fuck that guy"" So yea, fuck off with your nonsense, no one asked for it.)

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Wensleydale
Wensleydale - 12:14pm, 20th January 2018

The anger is strong in this comments thread.

Haven't played the game, so I don't know if the review is in any way accurate, but if what's been said about the clunkiness of the combat system is true, it seems Piranha Bytes hasn't learned a whole lot since Gothic and Risen. Sort out your combat, people! Look at games like Kingdoms of Amalur or the Arkham franchise to see what makes combat fun, especially if it's going to be such a large part of the game. If my character looks as though he's suffering from Parkinson's whenever he's engaged in combat, and the controls make you feel as though you're attempting to sprint through quicksand with an anvil strapped to your face, then you fail at combat mechanics. You people have built some great worlds, and some of your quest design is inspired, but your combat systems encourage people to scream profanity at their monitors and break anything within arm's reach. What you're doing isn't working. Do something else.

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l
l - 01:27pm, 20th January 2018

Haven't played the game is the keyword

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Wensleydale
Wensleydale - 11:28pm, 20th January 2018

Yeah. Which is why I stated that right out of the gate. Ten points for being a smartass though. From the video reviews I've watched, and what's been said on Steam, the general consensus seems to be "the combat is janky". Not game-ruiningly awful, just kind of awkward and unresponsive... like every other Piranha Bytes game since the dawn of time. Some people will be happy to overlook that in favour of their great world-building. I'm not willing to drop $60 on a combat-heavy RPG where the combat is a second-rate festival of annoyance and frustration. Life is too short.

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Snork
Snork - 11:43pm, 8th January 2019

Hey review author Mr Nikolai Chan,

Your comment brought up a question in my mind that I'm not sure, myself, how I would answer.

But I want to know your opinion.  The question is, you mentioned the review is simply your opinion (which honestly frustrates me, because it's a copout, if it was "just an opinion" you could just write "I liked it" and that'd be a fine one sentence review.  

Which leads me to the question, "As a reviewer, do you feel as if it's your responsibility to do your best to apply a consistent and mostly objective standard to the methodology and process by which you craft a review?"

For example, intelligent people can tell the difference between their personal preference against classical music, while also objectively understanding that much of what's survived from the classical era is a product of genius.

Music reviewers regularly need to do their best to bury their preference and opinion so as to elevate their review and to make it worth reading... as opposed to the pure bias waste of time opinions that random commenters write - people who wouldn't acknowledge a gap between their own preference and objective quality if it hit them in the mouth.

The mental discipline devoted to this cultivation of an objective viewpoint (while also acknowledging their own preference, not to pretend that they don't have one) is what makes the reviewer's opinion worth reading.  And it's what makes it consistent and also what garners trust and an expanding/loyal readership.

Regardless of your answer, it's disappointing for you to claim that it's just your opinion and then to basically back pedal into claiming your particular opinion is worthless anyway.  Either you were applying an objective standard and refused to stand by it (maybe you lack confidence?) Or you weren't applying an objective standard and havent thought deeply enough into your profession to have considered that a review is more than mere opinion.

Either way, I hope you do better next time.

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Acelister
Acelister - 08:53am, 9th January 2019

So you give this review a 3/10?

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Pop
Pop - 11:02pm, 14th October 2019

Just finished the game and it's absolutely amazing. There is an incredible love to detail and ton's of stuff to find, even at the most far places. The Story is very good, wich is a thing you will easely miss if you click half of it away. The companion's are the best i have ever seen in a videogame. Not only do they offer their own storylines, they also comment on the world, their surrounding's and even talk to NPC's or on dialouges the player has. Since there are like 6 of them this alone offer's a high re-playability. Not sure yet if it's the same with faction's. The map is also filled with side mission's, some of them incredibly well hidden (Thiefs guild mission's).

I can only describe this review as a troll post as you can find them on every steam page. Only thing i didn't liked was the combat system in clode combat. Everything else was great. Especially for such a small team.

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