Elex is a strange mix, as it looks to combine a post-apocalyptic world with elements of fantasy and sci-fi. The combination which at first sounds like an unsuccessful one, however Elex surprises all with this unique mix and its unique game world.
One of the key roles played in the game comes from its choice of factions. As you can please and side with 4 different factions from: Berserkers, Clerics, Outlaws and Albs. They all have their own views and control over the world and it’s up to you whether you want to play ball and follow them. It’s much like Fallout 4 in a way, that you can complete their quest lines and have them on your side or you can well and truly start an uprising against them so they can’t stand the sight of you. Another reason to side with a particular faction, might also be their choice of technology and weaponry available to your character build. This forms a large part of your progression and character in general, as you’ll be more efficient in a particular weapon or ability with a specific faction.
As you learn the direction you want to take your character in, you’ll start to put more focus on these areas and improving them wherever possible. One thing I would say is give the game time to get going, as the beginning story arc is particularly tedious and slow until the reins are removed to go off and do your own thing. Most of your equipment is limited to whatever you have equipped as you can’t access merchants until later on in the game when you’ve built up more reputation with a faction. There are travelling merchants on the roads, but chances are you’ll have no cash to spend regardless.
The game’s combat also relies heavily on your character’s armour and weapons, which control the amount of damage you absorb and deal. The better access to weapons and armour you have, the easier you’ll find it to defeat enemies, as they don’t scale with your level. In fact, levelling does very little other than put focus into your individual abilities or allow you to equip more things onto your character. The combat itself feels like a more clunky version of The Witcher 3, as dodging isn’t the easiest mechanic to get used to and attacks don’t feel natural or fluid in the slightest. The combat really felt all too slow and unresponsive at times, which is a key area to the gameplay sadly under-looked. Looking past that though, generally as you progress further you’ll find the enemies you encounter along the way, a piece of cake to cut through and move along.
There are also various avenues to ply your weaponry skill at, such as bows, guns, melee type weapons and even magic if you wish to tamper in that. I have to say the variety in play styles was nice to see and had a Dark Souls’ vibes to it with the choice in abilities and weapons – you really can play any build you like and swap at any point.
Much of the game world is also filled with various landmarks to explore and scavenge for loot. Some of it is useless and others are actually useful for crafting. If you’re not into your crafting RPGs, then Elex is unlikely to be the game for you. Crafting health potions and armour were particularly important for me, particularly for increasing XP on these skills too. Not only that, but surviving in the world largely required these.
I believe one of the key focuses for game design were to pack the map with plenty of locations to visit such as abandoned camps, ruins, towns and much more. The enemy design is equally as interesting, with plenty of different enemy types and attacks to keep you pre-occupied and think how you’re going to tackle them. It might also be worth noting that dodging attacks uses up stamina, so keep your stamina potions well stocked as a quick handy tip for you there.
I did enjoy the addition of the jet pack as well, which adds another experience of exploration as you can climb to the top of lookout posts using a boost of your jet pack and be rewarded for doing so with loot and lore items.
The protagonist’s voice acting felt flat all throughout, which is shown across the board for NPCs as well. Some show true character, whereas the majority tend to be lifeless, poorly animated characters. However, they are reactive, for example if you enter their home and look around at their belongings, eyeing things up to steal, they will verbally comment on your actions and attack you if prompted to.
All in all, Elex’s game world is probably its strongest positive, with a new intriguing location around every corner, something I would compare to Skyrim in that respect. However, it’s gameplay seriously lets things down with a clunky combat system, poor voice acting and graphical bugs which are enough to put you off from truly enjoying the quests and characters the title has to offer.