Elex Review

Introduction

Elex is an open world RPG, developed by Piranha Bytes and published by THQ Nordic. It was released in October of 2017 for Consoles and PC.

Review

Commander Jax was on his way to complete his mission for The Prophet, when he got shot down over Edan. The land of the Berserkers. Which means he failed his mission, and according to the directive, when Albs from Xacor (pronounced zay-core) fail their mission, the punishment is death. Luckily for Jax, the execution was a failure, but no one knows.

This means one thing for Jax, as an alb, he’s pumped full of a mineral called “Elex”, which kills his emotions so he can do his job. But without it, he gains emotions again, and starts to think for himself. Throughout his journey he realizes that The Prophet needs to die, and he needs to take revenge on whoever tried to have him executed. So he travels the land of the “Free People” to try and get his strength back, to confront his enemies!

The pacing makes the story very hard to get into. Nothing ever picks up to such frenetic paces, that you get kept on the edge of your seat. Though the story didn’t start for a very long time. But we’ll get to that. The world is packed full of stories to tell, and secrets to find. As you travel across the world of Magalan, you find the remains of the people who inhabited it before “the comet” and wiped out most of civilization. Usually from letters or audio recordings. 

But outside of that, there is a massive amount of side quests to do and stories to find. Whether it’s finding out how a Berserker was murdered. Or helping a mechanic for the Clerics destroy all the mechs that have a bad chip in it, that makes them malfunction and kill everyone it sees. The lore is deep, the stories are packed full of information, but again, nothing kept me on the edge of my seat. That’s not to say I wasn’t interested though, because I did love every second of it! Even if the dialogue did stretch on a lot sometimes. Or the voice acting was a bit dull if any Albs were on screen. But at least they had reason to be soulless. They literally had no emotions!

With how packed the game is for content, this means one thing. You have to do everything to survive, and I mean everything. I spent the first 25-30 hours of the game doing every single side quest so I could survive. Even then it was a difficult time! When I finally got strong enough to start the story, it only lasted maybe 10 hours before I was done. But the characters throughout the journey were amazing! Like all the companion characters you find. They all eventually have their own side quests where their stories get incredibly fleshed out. Like the outlaw, Nasty! Yes, that’s her name. Where she seems like a badass who doesn’t have a care in the world for her own life. But after finding out the reason, I liked her even more. 

Then on the flip side of this beautifully crafted world and lore and awesome characters is the gameplay. This was where the game started to fall apart in just the slightest. As I said earlier, it took 25-30 hours before I could play the story, because no matter where I turned at the beginning of the game, there was death around every corner. Eventually I turned it down to easy, and I was still dying in 3 hits. So for the first 6 hours, I was running around the first town, finding quests, which aren’t marked at all on the map. Nothing is until you find it. So you need to talk to the shopkeeper for it to be on your map. Or walk into the quick travel teleporter for it to be activated. By the time I ran around the first town and had talked to everyone, and gotten every quest I could, I then had to figure out what ones I could actually do!

So I picked a quest, ran to see if I could do it, and if there were enemies, I was more than likely dead. Eventually I got an AI companion, who was able to help me fight enemies, so things actually started dying! Unfortunately for a long time I wasn’t able to upgrade my equipment. It wasn’t until I joined a faction, which there are 3 to join. Berserkers, Outlaws or Clerics. But to join them, you have to do a slew of quests to prove your loyalty. So if you haven’t got yourself powered up, you’ll have a hard time! Though once you’re in the factions, you can gain ranks to get to be able to get a bit more equipment, which was exciting in all honesty.

But as I levelled up, I got to increase my stats. Whether it was strength or dexterity, I had to really think about what to put these points into, as you cannot “respec” your character at all! If you don’t choose the right stat increases, you’ll find yourself weak in the late game. Though you don’t get any skills in this game in the way of attack skills, you do get passive skills however. But you have to find the trainer’s for those, and have the proper stats to unlock them. Some of them even have levels to them. Like the passive skill to get more stamina.

Though you may feel nice and strong at the end of the game, you still need to carefully tackle every enemy encounter as if you’re just starting the game. Even though I had the best armor I could get,  the very first enemies of the game could still kill me quickly if I was not careful, and again I was on Easy! Sure it makes it feel rewarding once you finally progress, but it ruins the illusion of the fun power fantasy when you find yourself dying a whole lot. I played Dark Souls 3 while I took a break from this for a week, and I died less in that, than I did in this. Again it made it rewarding, but I do truly hope Piranha Bytes makes the sequel a bit more accessible for casual players who are interested in the world. Not everyone has the tenacity to push through the hundreds of deaths that you’ll rack up in your journey.

If there is one thing that I will say to watch out for, in case you find yourself playing this, is make sure you shut the game down fully once every few hours. At one point I had the opportunity to play for 8 straight hours, and the game became very unstable. To the point the map wouldn’t load when I fast travelled all I fell through the map. Or the menu took 10 seconds to open every time I needed to open it.

Rating

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Fantastic World
  • Amazing Characters
  • Rewarding Gameplay

Cons:

  • No Respec’ing Your Stats
  • Combat Is Not For The Faint Of Heart
  • Dialogue Drags Sometimes

Summary

I absolutely loved this game. I was so happy I finally bought it and played it. It kept me interested the whole way through, the characters were phenomenal, and the lore was a lot of fun. It’s just unfortunate that the gameplay stands in the way of all this amazing stuff. With how difficult it is, a lot of people won’t be able to see the wonders this game has to offer, and I hope the sequel isn’t this tough!

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Game & Developer Information

Developer Website: Piranha Bytes
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: THQ Nordic
Publisher Socials: Twitter
PSN Store Links: £49.99/€59.99 Europe / $59.99 North America
Trophy Information: 51. 40-platinum 1 / Gold 3 / Silver 5 / Bronze 42

ELEX – Launch Trailer

Published by oniwalker

Co-owner of NodeGamers(dot)com. Reviewer and Guide Writer. I'll play just about anything as I cry about my backlog!

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