I must admit that I was quite skeptical about ELEX before I started playing. I'm an old fantasy player, on average I like science fiction (although I do like it), that's why I didn't like this combination of several genres in one product. And how did it work out in practice?
Tradition has been satisfied. The creators of ELEX decided to depart from the usual pattern of previous games and give our hero a name. After all, we have a character who has some interesting story and does not appear out of nowhere like the nameless ones from previous "piranha" games. Jax belonged to the Albanian faction - cosmic warriors feeding on Elex. This substance is something like a drug that turns off emotions, feelings and gives incredible agility, energy and technology. But it doesn't work the same for everyone. Most people who consume Elex simply become stupid and die. The other part mutates into different monsters (also animals). The lucky ones become super-technological warriors and join the Albas.
Why did I mention above that Jax belonged to this faction? Well, because during one of the missions he crashed into the Magalan. His task was considered to have not been completed. In addition, the Albas decided to kill Jax. Of course, the peasant escapes with his life, without any major damage to his health, and most importantly, he remembers everything . But while he was lying unconscious after attempted murder, some guy decided to steal from him and take his wonderful technological outfit and fables - how could it be otherwise! And that's where we come into play, in our pyjamas and torn shirts alone, and our job is first to find out what the stolen superovisuppence is and then to find out what's really going on everywhere.
Jax is a very interesting and charismatic character with a sense of humor. The creators have given us an enormous amount of dialogue possibilities that influence how the characters we meet will perceive our protagonist. With superiority? Admiration? Or will they be afraid of him? It all depends on how we talk to them and how we behave throughout the game. Believe me, it is enough to say something inappropriate during one dialogue with some NPC, to talk about something or lie about it, and the whole story may take a completely different course. A nice element, but not fully worked out by the creators, is the "coolness" statistic. It grows with the constant choice of sarcastic or aggressive dialogue options. This statistic also increases quite quickly while using Elex. The cooler we get, the more guilty dialog options we can have to choose from. The creators didn't work it out completely, because using Elex all the time, Jax was supposed to mutate, and the people we meet should relate to us in a completely different way. But unfortunately, it didn't work out as intended.
I started a little bit off on the wrong side. We have already met the main character. It's time to introduce the world to you - what's going on here and who's scratching the kneecap with whom.
At the beginning of the game we have the impression that we are in Górnicza Dolina or Khorinis again. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary impression, because Elex is a game mainly in the genre of science fiction. Of course, if we want, we can use only magic throughout the game or fight with swords and bows as Berserks (one of the main factions available in the game, about which I will write later), but visiting distant surroundings, we will leave this beautiful medieval land and enter the scenery of a typical science fiction.
In Elex there are many similarities to the older titles from Piranha Bytes. I don't necessarily think it's a plus. The fight is clumsy and stiff. We have here the same system of duels as in Gothic and Risenach. Unfortunately, this is not my favorite type. You have to put a lot of effort into killing somebody or something. Of course, the creators added a little variety, such as special komboos or impressive finishes. But it's the right combination of keys on the keyboard that is responsible for that. Just by clicking on LPM we can use a special punch, which usually looks exactly the same.
The animation of the fight is lame and extremely funny. Remember when in Gothic Bezi he beat a wolf with a few similar blows, once on the left and once on the right? Here it looks similar. The fact is, there is a bit of variety, but without any rage. During the first encounter on Magalena, when I pulled out the axe and started chopping big rats with it, the first association that came to my mind was Bezi beating the wolf with a stick on the head of the wolf. For others it will be a cool solution, just to feel what you once felt, for others (including me) not quite.
The game is very difficult. In my opinion, it's not a minus. Gothic wasn't easy either. And in Khorinis or Górnicza Dolina just any scary thing can knock us down with one attack. At the beginning Lex is an ordinary golodyman. That's why you should skillfully choose the missions that you want to complete at the beginning. Even the main thread is hard to push forward without the development of our hero and collecting appropriate equipment. That's why, as I write, it's better to perform side tasks like: go there, collect so much, bring quests of this kind as well, than to push yourself into the middle of the forest, where we may face the inevitable death of a big troll.
The world presented in the game is beautiful in its own way. The characters live their own lives and problems, talk to each other, our hero can also talk to them on various topics, learn interesting things. We can also kill them. I'm sorry - we can also kill them, which is impossible at the beginning of the game. It is worth mentioning once again the various choices. Killing a character can inevitably make the whole game difficult for us, after all, it is not known whether such a murder has not lost the opportunity to gain useful information about the currently performed task, or to receive another interesting task, in which the reward was a powerful sword or a blaster?
In the title of this review you could read "Sword and bow against moss?!". Yes, it is true, but the fact that ELEX will be a combination of several genres of fantasy was known from the first announcement of the title. But the whole concept of the world is very funny to me. I'm not saying that other people won't like it. However, I was not delighted.
Let's start with the factions available in the game. The first one we will meet with is the Berserks. This faction is modeled on the fantasy genre. We have swords here, we have arches, there will be also magic powered by mana and medieval climates like wooden huts with boxes with valuables and straw roofs. But we can also find two other factions to which we can belong. These are Bananas (postapo) and Clerics, or pure science fiction - mechs, robots, blasters, jets and other Elex-powered trailers. And now you're going to ask what's funny about all this? Until we start fraternizing with one faction, nothing happens. But when other groups meet, the contrast looks very funny. The best is waiting for us when the two factions start fighting each other. Guests shooting with bows and fighting with swords against soldiers dressed in the latest technological equipment and equipped with machine guns, blasters, drones and giant mecha in their arsenal. In addition, the medieval army wins. Something is not right here!
The territories of the mentioned factions also look bad when we put them next to each other. I mean a quick visual jump. Located in the Berserków area, we visit the green vast lands, in a way reflecting the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. It's nothing that here and there we can find the ruins of houses and cars. I didn't pay much attention to it and it didn't bother me. It doesn't get interesting until suddenly we jump from the warm, desert and palm locations to the frozen, cold territory where the Albanians built a converter to extract Elex. In my opinion, this should be better presented, gradually.
The advantage is that from the very beginning (we can find it in the first bunker) we should add a jet backpack, thanks to which exploring the world of ELEX is much easier. Also in combat this gadget is very useful. On the map we can also find a lot of portals located in the area, thanks to which we can quickly get to various places. of course, these portals have to be found and activated beforehand - it is not so easy. Unfortunately, we will not be able to see the tops, or in the case of the Clerics faction - vehicles. I don't know what the reason is that in all the game series released so far, Piranha Bytes hasn't provided any means of transport in the game.
Graphically, the game looks good. This is not the level we could see in our native Witcher 3. Some textures are very low quality. Water looks the worst here. The vegetation was very nicely constructed, but I saw a lot of hollows, identical trees and bushes. The plants we collect look almost identical. However, it didn't interfere with the game. I would also like to add that the title was tested in ultra settings at 2560×1440 resolution.
The interface of all the equipment and statistics deserves revenge. It took me a long time to figure out where everything is. The equipment still works on the same principle as in Gothic or Risen. There, in order to equip our hero with some weapon or to dress in elements of armour, it was enough to click on the item. Here you can embed it with the appropriate key. We still don't have a preview of the character with the given element of armor on top of us, which I think is a big minus. I often thought that I had chosen a newly acquired weapon, and this one was not placed in Jax's hand. With time I got used to it, but at the beginning it irritated me a lot.
Animations in some moments break down, but I hope that in the final version of the game, which has its premiere tomorrow, it was somehow improved. As I mentioned a few paragraphs above, the duel animations and the fight itself are very average. Not once, not twice, despite the fact that I was dodging the enemy's blows, this one, jumping somewhere to the side, still hit me, often critically.
The audio setting looks very good. The music automatically adjusts to the situation we find ourselves in. When we're in the city, it's idyllic and pleasant, and when everyone sleeps, it's quiet and melancholic. However, when we are noticed by the enemy, the music becomes dynamic and ominous, you know then that something is not playing and you need to be on your guard.
Is Elex a good game? I will try to answer this question this way: if you are a fan of Piranha Bytes games, if you love the Gothic series and like Risen the same, you shouldn't be disappointed. Bug, mechanics or fight are on the same level in these three productions. You'll get a lot of dialogue, the possibility to choose what hero Jax is and an interesting story. But if you don't like science fiction climates, you may feel a little disappointed just like me...
However, if you are old cRPG gamers, but you haven't played Gothica or Risena for any reason, maybe you should play Elex with someone before, try it and decide before you buy it. Or just play the two previous series from "piranhas" and see if you like this system of fighting and playing the game.
Elex is not a bad game. It is an average product, a bit boring and sometimes monotonous. If the technological factions were to be thrown out, the Berserk faction left alone, and maybe even the postapocalyptic Banits, finally modify the interface of equipment and statistics and slightly improve the combat system, the title would be really good - such a tuned up Gothic 2, really! Unfortunately, the creators, as I mentioned at the beginning, kidnapped themselves with a hoe to the sun, wanted to stuff everything in the product, not improving the elements, which were always a little bit grumpy in their titles.