I've always loved the games that THQ Nordic (THQ in general, I guess) have published, especially the Saints Row and Red Faction games, so getting to review Elex, which is their new open-world post-apocalyptic science fiction fantasy RPG game (a new IP), was awesome. The game is developed by Piranha Bytes, the creators of the Gothic series. I've played through the game for some hours and as always, I definitely have some things to talk about. Platform: Xbox One S. SPOILER ALERT!
Introduction Upon starting the game, I get introduced to the game's main menu, a pretty simple one at that. I, of course, look into the "options" section to see if there's anything I should tinker with. When I finally start the game for real, a cinematic video is being played to introduce me to the game's lore, and what factions there are. I thought the cinematic explained everything very well and, obviously, since it's a new IP, it's pretty needed to have a well explaining video at the beginning.
To top it off, there was amazing artwork, too! Great start for the game. Later on, I'm seeing this flying ship get shot down within the sky of this exotic looking enviroment. I immedietly thought that the visuals were great looking! You're playing as Jax, which is the person that was in the ship. He shortly after abandons the ship and wander off, which is where he gets shot and falls off a cliff. This is where the game truly begins. I'm now free to explore the game's beautiful scenery! In Elex you're free to do whatever you want in a huge and vast open world that offers everything from quest hunting to joining factions. Visuals/performance One thing that they nailed with this game is definitely the graphics, they are downright gorgeous looking! Everything from the world's textures to the sky, they went all in. As I stand in an elevator in the beginning of the game, I notice that the ligthning is also really well done, as well as the God rays from the sun. They unfortunately didn't really go all in with the technical aspect of the game, though. The first cut-scene of the game is plagued with constant dips in the framerate, mostly when there's a lot of smoke featured and such like, for example. There's also some occasional small framedrops occuring from time to time but they didn't make a huge impact on my experience at all. However, this shouldn't, of course, be existing in the game at all and my Xbox One S should fight these "issues" like it's nothing. That's not the case, but it gets better later on. In terms of unstable gameplay as in bugs or glitches, I didn't experience many of them at all. Upon first getting to control my character I tend to really like the controls and I thought they were pretty fluid, so I didn't have any problems with getting used to them. As soon as I saw the cinematic video in the beginning, I immedietly knew that the voice acting was going to be pretty good.
It definitely is, too! In general, the sound design is top notch and sounds very authentic. Small things like attacking someone (or something, like a rat) to jumping with your jet-pack sounds realistic and great. Elex reminds me of Dragon Age III a lot in a way, especially when talking to someone since you're able to choose what to say. Come to think about it, I think the graphics and general gameplay is very much like it, too. It's not really a bad thing but let's just say this: I didn't really like Dragon Age III that much (it wasn't bad, I just didn't understand how to progress in it). Exploring places in Elex feels amazing since the enviroment is so alive and makes for a very immersive experience. The character models look amazing, as does the trees and their movement! Standing still, I can clearly see that the enviroment is really alive, there's so much detail and movement in the vicinity that it's hard to decide if I should start moving again or not. Elex is such a beautiful game, my god! I can't help but to stop to take a screenshot from time to time! There seems to be dynamic weather, too which looks very authentic. Gameplay Elex is a third-person game, which is what a RPG game like this should be. There are no classes so you're free to become whoever you'd like to become, without no boundaries. The cool thing about Elex is that you're able to kill anyone, which is pretty unique but keep in mind that it WILL change the game's course of the story, which leads me to another cool thing: everything you end up doing will alter the game world and the story. Elex has real consequence impact on the game, so I really felt like I changed the game over time. The game is huge and there's so much to explore, too. At first glance, I thought that this game was going to be another RPG game with the usual types of weapons you see but in Elex it's different: there's a weapon type for everyone. There's shotguns, swords, flamethrowers and bows, for example! I really love when there's a huge variety of weapons to choose from in a game. Splendid work, Piranha Bytes! There just has to be something for everyone in a game like this, in my opinion.
As I'm playing the game I notice that I am able to change the camera perspective, so I changed to one that is positioned closer to my character, which I thought was great since I didn't really like the first view. There's no option for first-person, however but frankly, it wouldn't fit this game. With a game world being this big, it is bound to have a lot of scenery, as well as towns/villages. Which it does! I kind of got a Skyrim feeling when exploring the game's world and seeing everything it has to offer. That's not a bad thing, either. Elex offers a level-up system, obviously, and each time you level up you gain attribute points that you can use to increase your strength, constiution, dexterity, intelligence or cunning. I tend to balance it by giving each set one point as I level up to get a good amount out of everything. Also, there's a loot system so each time you kill something, you're able to loot its body, as well as pick stuff up from the enviroment (like in the Fallout games, you're also able to take everything at once). In case you want to quickly equip a favorite weapon of yours or if you want to get more health quickly, you can hot-key up to four items from your inventory. The in-game currency is called Elexit and with it, you can buy weapons, armor or companions, for example. At first, I felt kind of confused regarding what I was supposed to do to progress through the game, and where I was supposed to go but as I played more I started to understand further.
It also felt like an insanely difficult game at first but as I found better armor and weapons, as well as started leveling up more, it became a LOT easier. Fast-travel is of course a thing withing the game and you fast-travel by using teleporters throughout the world (that you obviously have to find first), and makes your travels a lot faster. Story In Elex, you play as Jax, an Alb soldier looking to find answers to why he was shot by his own people in the form of an execution, after being shot down from the sky. Now, thought to be dead by the people he was a part of before, he has to form connections with the people of Malagan to get closer to the truth. In games like Elex, it's clear that you're free to do whatever you want to: there's no linear path to follow, you can stop to explore a creepy looking cave if that is what you desire. Maybe I want to do a side-quest to get some additional Elexit, in order to buy better armor? I'm free to do so, there's no rush. Maybe I feel the need to help a fellow wanderer that is seeking assistance? There's all kinds of things that the planet of Malagan offers! There game is divided into different chapters throughout the story.
Elex is set in a post-apocalyptic world, which is something that I definitely notice while playing due to the wrecked cars in the streets, and the modern looking houses/buildings that are scattered throughout the world. Elex works like any other RPG that has a quest system: there's side-quests (as well as smaller quests within the world of Edan that you can find while exploring, for example), there's main quests and there is quests dedicated to help your companions. You're able to pretty much pick up anything, like in the Fallout or Elder Scrolls franchises, so exploration is a ton of fun! If i want to pick a mug up, I can do that, and later sell it to a trader/merchant. RPG elements There's deep RPG elements featured in the game: skills, level-up system, loot system, character customization, companions, and much more. The longer you play, the more skills you will get. In order for you to use a specific armor piece that you want, you'll have to meet the item's requirements (for example, strength: 20/20). I think that Piranha Bytes did a great job at doing the RPG side of the game, it's awesome and deep! From time to time, I tend to get a Fallout/Elder Scrolls vibe while wandering around, and I LOVE those franchises! To further fuel the Fallout vibe, you're able to have a companion to help you out (or to just make you feel less lonely, too, I guess?), which you can get by earning their trust/respect. There's a huge variety of armor sets, so for the people that want to look as cool as possible while also not having to worry about getting killed easily, there's definitely something for you!
There's a part of me that thinks Elex would be even more awesome if it had multiplayer/co-op but the other part of me that is disagreeing, is a bigger part. The combat part of Elex offers thrilling and sometimes difficult yet fun fights. You can lock onto an enemy and parry their attacks, as well as roll out of harm's way if needed (which it will be). I think they've designed the combat pretty well and I actually do not see it as getting repetitive in the long run, anytime soon. In case you ever feel like Elex isn't game with magic elements, too, don't panic! It's part of the game. You can increase your use of magic as one of the Clerics by using learning points, which you're able to use by finding the right trainer. All in all: Elex is the ultimate new RPG experience, offering both something for those that desire gunfights with everything from shotguns to magic, or those that prefer to get up close and personal. With the huge emphasis it has on RPG elements, Elex is bound to be an awesome adventure for everyone, regardless of you being picky or not. I've explored a ton of ground on the planet of Magalan and I enjoyed every single second spent doing so! The vast open world of Magalan will certainly keep you busy for about 20-30 hours, and your need for more will only get bigger. I definitely recommend buying Elex! It's an amazing game all the way through! It might not be perfect perfomance-wise but it's definitely worth all your time, as well as your money.
Elex is available digitally on the Microsoft Store for Xbox One and is priced at $59.99. (A review copy was provided by THQ Nordic for review purposes). (This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson and is based upon his honest opinion about the game).