Elex - PS4 Review

Elex is a fascinating attempt to blend the likes of an open world RPG with the ideas that so brilliantly make the Soul’s series combat what it is. Shot down from the sky by one of his own, Jax sets out for revenge with nothing more than a bent pipe in the post meteor struck world of Magalan.

I’ll preface this with that I really wanted to enjoy Elex especially since I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it from the first time that I saw it. Finally getting my hands on it though I found myself more concerned with technical issues and balancing as the load times could make Bloodborne look quick and I think I saw them more than actual gameplay as everything is designed to one or two hit kill you even at the very beginning.

Elex is hard but not in a “you have to become better than the system” hard. It’s hard because just about everything is stronger than you and short of role playing your way into level ups, even gaining new abilities to hold onto new weapons is hard. I hate using the word but it’s simply not accessible.

Leveling up gives you access to ten points that can be added into the stat of your choice. Once past thirty however it takes more than a single point in order to add a stat. The issue with this is that some basic, and I really mean basic, weapons cost over thirty strength to wield. Add in constitution and dexterity as other requirements and it could take until you’re level seven in order to use something more than a crappy axe. What do you do in the meantime? Run away from just about everything between you and where you’re going.

I mean it is possible in order to very slowly chip away at an enemy’s health but with them being able to take you out in one hit, the lengthy loading times are not worth it. It becomes just slightly more manageable once you start getting companions to do your dirty work for you but once they fall to the ground you’re in just as much trouble so you’d have been been supporting them with a range weapon. Between ranged and melee however ranged combat is much easier to perform as you don’t need to worry about stamina but instead just how many arrows or bullets you can land into your enemy.

I appreciate what Elex tried to do with it’s stamina integration into the combat system but I feel like it takes it down several notches instead of raising it up. Running, swinging a weapon, blocking and dodging all take various amounts of stamina and once it’s empty or on low it takes a good while for it to regenerate. Enemies are in the same boat as you and you can see the amounts that they have and make use of attacking them when they are at their lowest since they won’t be able to block your attacks and take some damage.

The problem isn’t that there’s stamina involved but that the act of swinging your weapon feels slow and by the time you’ve finally moved into action, you’re dead. Again. It takes some time to get used to how certain enemies act such as “raptors” will pounce forward with swiping claws while other canine like creatures will charge headfirst. Knowing how to react to these creatures is great but if you’ve dodged sometimes even a second too early their re-adjustment of their trajectory will bring them straight to you most likely killing you all over again. If it was just having to deal with slow swing times that would be one thing, but having to deal with slow swing times AND having the stamina left to do it or to dodge, when you’re alone against multiple foes sometimes it’s better to run away and fight another day instead of seeing the lengthily load screen.

Outside of combat however there is plenty to enjoy with wide open and beautiful looking locations to explore and lore to find. Magalan is an interesting space as it showcases the differences of the factions and what they’ve done since the meteor crash quite well making each culture interesting to explore once you’ve managed to get there.

Littered across the world are teleporters that grant you access to quick travel points that can be accessed from the terminal that you can call up on your arm. Even this adds some depth to the world as if you access it in the realm of the Berserkers who will have nothing to do with technology and instead went about the path of magic, they’ll yell at you to put it away as it has no place in their realm. The same can be said about the jetpack that is strapped to your back making exploration quite the interesting experience as if you plan your path out right there’s nothing that can stop you. Well that’s short of being one shotted by something you didn’t even know was there.

If you can find someone who will actually talk to you on your travels, dialog can be fantastic. Banter back and forth between you, your companions and those that you are talking to are all well written and great to listen to as even the voice actors are right on key. The issue is that with all the people that you come across there are many that will walk right on by you giving you nothing more than a “I don’t have time” for you which is unfortunate because of how well crafted it all is.

Topping it all off, Elex is also not without its technical issues. The frame rate will often come crashing down when trying to access and move around your HUD’s map or simply freeze. Running around the world depending on what is lying about will also trigger these effects making you worry that something may be coming to end your life once again while you wait for the engine to catch up. Finally the auto-saving that is amazingly customizable for its time increments will also bring everything to a halt as it triggers making you wonder if the title will come through or if it’s another wonderful blue screen of death.

The basis for Elex is an amazing one but sadly the execution isn't there. Between the technical issues and the steep price of betterment for both self and equipment being so high, you'll be spending more time running away and reloading your previous save than actually enjoying what Magalan could offer Jax.

Game Information

Sony PlayStation 4
Piranha Bytes
THQ Nordic
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Microsoft Xbox One

Provided by Publisher

Article by Pierre-Yves


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