My memories as an adolescent gamer are probably the reason I was waiting for ELEX like the second coming of Gothic 2, despite playing whatever Risen 2 was supposed to be. The game has launched last week and despite being in a severe ill state, I habe given ELEX all of my available time to experience what seems to be the return of Piranha Bytes.
ELEX is the product of a legacy that started almost two decades ago and has carried on to this day with all its qualities and flaws. Based on a pretty sketchy engine that seems lost in a nebulous of technology, ELEX thrives as an RPG not through flash but substance. It’s a game designed with a nostalgic vibe which feels like a tribute to some of the best years of the genre to which Piranha Bytes has contributed a great deal. This is a story where the choices you make have actual consequences fueling the narrative outside your character’s main goals. The sense of progression is greatly intensified with the help of a somewhat artificial difficulty that requires careful attention in exploration and character customization. It’s the kind of progression that we rarely see these days, starting from a weak state and gradually growing to the status of a true warrior. These challenging and captivating elements are aspects of a beautifully designed post-apocalyptic world that’s worthy of a genuine Fallout game but combined with a small dose of fantasy that makes it so original. The Gothic vibe can be felt with every step taken into ELEX’s world, from the three conflicting factions, to the way the skill tree is designed, to how clunky the game feels and play. It’s a true Piranha Bytes game encompassing all their trademarks including the infamous ones like bad animations, clunky combat controls and plenty of bugs, problems that the fans have learned to live with yet shouldn’t be excused.
I wouldn’t call ELEX an overall good game, not even by today’s buggy standards. But it’s a damn good RPG that’s set on providing the qualities that define this genre which lately have been diluted if not completely lost within the rise of open world. As someone who has played this for more than 50 hours constantly wishing the game had a bigger budget, I can only say that as an RPG lover you can’t pass on ELEX. Either take an expensive risk now or wait a few months for fixes, but just don’t ignore this title just because it’s not wrapped in the sugar coating of an AAA.