If you’ve been in a coma for the last ten years, and Elex was the first game that you see, you might be forgiven for thinking that it looks like a good game that is fun to play. But unfortunately, you will be very wrong in thinking that, since Elex is everything but a good game.
Welcome to Magalan
Elex takes place on a planet called Magalan, a place that had a lot of future and potential until a meteor hit it, and everything went up in smoke. Now, the survivors fight to survive on the ruined planet, and naturally, some factions have formed, such as the Berserkers, the Clerics, the Outlaws and the Albs. Each faction has a different approach to how they’re trying to survive, with the Berserkers denouncing all forms of technology, and fighting to restore the world naturally and with magic. The Clerics value technology above all else and the Outlaws take whatever they can find in order to survive and become better.
The Albs, the main antagonists of the game, consume Elex, a rare material that came with the comet. It makes them stronger than everyone else, but it comes at a cost, as all form of emotion and humanity is drained from them. You place as Jax, an Alb commander that’s been betrayed and left for dead, that regains his humanity and sets out on a path of vengeance.
That is the basic premise of the Elex and to be honest, it sounds pretty cool and has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it is very poorly executed, and it turns into a very boring, confusing and nearly impossible to play mess.
I can honestly forgive a game for getting one, or even two of the things wrong, but every single component of Elex is so poorly executed.
Let me be very honest for a moment. Elex is touted as a massive Action RPG, with multiple endings and a ton of things to see and do. You should expect to play for at least 50 hours. I personally did not make it that far. I just couldn’t do that to myself.
What made it so intolerable was the fact that the game gets so many things wrong. I can honestly forgive a game for getting one, or even two of the things wrong, but every single component of Elex is so poorly executed, that it becomes too much to bear and it’s all things we take for granted in the modern age.
First off, the game has way too much talking. Each new character you meet will tell you in the most intricate detail of where they come from, and why they are now standing before you with their verbal diarrhoea. It is completely unnecessary, and it takes away some form of mystery as to who this person is, or what their motivation might be. But this is something that could’ve been overlooked if it was fun to do stuff in the game.
Elex has a decently sized world, but once again, it looks so boring and bland, and incredibly dated. It does have a fair amount of detail and places to explore, but I was too afraid to go there because the game suffers from a serious balancing issue. The entire map is littered with creatures and enemies that can, and will, kill you with only one hit. The world has no way of warning you of not going here or there, and even getting to what seems to be a simple side quest marker will almost always take you through these enemies, which will result in a truly frustrating journey.
But fighting tough enemies is not a problem, provided you had the means to do it. And by means I’m referring to proper combat controls and maybe some decent armour or an actual weapon.
The combat is clunky, slow and unresponsive and enemies can melee hit you from what feels a mile away and your companion is about as effective as a wet tissue. It is very hard to explain how bad the combat is, and it happened so many times where I got beaten to a pulp before my companion would react. Like I said, I could forgive the hard enemies if the combat worked better, but it simply didn’t, and it was very poorly implemented.
Elex’s menus, controls and actual gameplay is also broken. Buttons feel like they’re mapped to the wrong actions, and the menu is hard to figure out and navigate. There’s also no level indication for the mission you’re on. I found myself on numerous occasions, selecting a quest, slogging through a sea of one-hit killing freaks of nature, only to find that the quest is way above my punching weight. It is so frustrating since I’m wasting time on things, and wasting precious resources only to find I cannot do the current task at hand.
It baffles my mind that a game like this can exist in a world where The Witcher III is already a thing.
This game just shouldn’t exist
It pains me to say it, but this game is a disgrace. It is clear that the people that made this game put some effort into it. The world they were trying to present to us has so much potential, and there’s really a lot to see and explore. But because of bad design choices and very poor execution, you simply just don’t want to.
It baffles my mind that a game like this can exist in a world where The Witcher III is already a thing. It’s almost as if the developers looked at that game and decided to do the complete opposite. Elex uses extremely dated controls, mechanics and systems, which is simply unacceptable in 2017.