Gaming

Elex 2 review: a bonkers RPG hampered by unpleasant characters


Only a few minutes out of Elex 2’s, pleasantly transient, tutorial space I got here throughout a radio. The published was asserting a live performance on the close by amphitheatre. A Billy Idol live performance. Yeah, you learn that proper. I instantly made a beeline for the live performance venue and was handled to a relatively unflattering rendering of Billy Idol and his guitar-playing chum performing a track. (Whiskey & Drugs from his 2014 album, relatively than something you’re more likely to have heard.) After the cutscene, you’re left within the empty amphitheatre, alone other than a few guys speaking about how nice the live performance was.


There isn’t any context for this cameo. Billiam doesn’t characteristic as an NPC. Within the 40-ish hours I spent enjoying the sport, I had no purpose to return to the amphitheatre. It is mindless in anyway and the one clarification I can provide you with is that somebody concerned within the recreation actually likes Billy Idol and simply needed him of their recreation. It’s the type of random that I can respect, and I solely want the sport had extra.


At first look, this type of “why the heck not?” angle is all over. Elex 2 returns to the post-apocalyptic world of Magalan, which regarded quite a bit like modern-day Earth till a comet carrying the eponymous substance smashed into the planet. 160-ish years later, we’re left with a handful of various teams who’ve all realized to make use of elex in numerous methods. The combo of factions is splendidly bonkers and makes me consider a bunch of LARPers who all turned as much as a recreation anticipating totally completely different settings. The Outlaws are probably the most stereotypically post-apocalyptic within the Mad Max-cum-Fallout vein, all scrap armour and traditional weapons. The Clerics are a hi-tech non secular order who’ve undoubtedly been enjoying an excessive amount of Warhammer 40k. They birthed the pasty-faced Albs, the baddies from the primary recreation, who now you can align with. Multiclassed hippy-vikings the Berserkers reject know-how and have discovered the way to convert elex into mana which permits them to solid spells. And final up are the Morkons, the brand new children on the block, who lived out the apocalypse underground, worship a god of destruction, and costume just like the Cenobites from Hellraiser.


By some means all of it hangs collectively, even if you add the sport’s baddies, a bunch of techno-organic alien invaders, into the equation. The plot is large quantities of sci-fi guff and limitless exposition, but it surely seeds simply sufficient thriller in there to carry your curiosity and does a good job of foreshadowing the inevitable Huge Plot Twist. I additionally very a lot appreciated the choice to find the sport in kind of the identical place as the unique and having the ability to witness the results of time’s passage. The excessive level of that is undoubtedly the Fort and its surrounding environs. Within the first recreation, this was a desert area inhabited by the Outlaws, however the space has been conquered by the Berserkers and terraformed with assistance from their magic tree thingies, making it lush and inexperienced.


Elex 2 could be very a lot a Piranha Bytes recreation. It’s an open-world RPG that cares exactly not one jot about whether or not you reside or die. It’s clunky and janky, however compelling and is usually a breath of recent air if you’re used to a gradual weight loss program of over-polished AAA affairs. Sadly, it additionally has the identical issues because the earlier recreation. And the Risen collection. And Gothic 3. Presumably the primary two Gothic video games, however I might by no means get previous their horrible controls.


The issue is all over. It begins off exhausting as a result of protagonist Jax is garbage, will get method too simple as soon as you work all the things out after which simply inflates the harm and well being of all of the enemies till all the things takes an age to die, however can kill you in a number of hits. Steadiness isn’t even an afterthought, it’s simply nonexistent. I used to be nonetheless utilizing a mid-game shotgun on the ultimate boss as a result of it clearly did a lot extra harm than my magic powers, or my supposedly endgame high quality distinctive weapons. The draw back of stated shotgun was the prolonged reload time, however since all ranged weapons immediately reload when holstered, that may very well be circumvented by tapping the hotkey a few occasions. Generally quests require you to return to the hunt giver earlier than they’re listed as full, as you would possibly anticipate. Different occasions they’re marked as full if you’ve killed ten spikepoodles or no matter, however you continue to want to return to the hunt giver to get a reward and advance the story. The pacing is flat out horrible, with the previous few hours of the sport simply being an limitless slog requiring the slaughtering of dozens upon dozens of the identical handful of enemy sorts.

It begins off exhausting, will get method too simple as soon as you work all the things out after which inflates the harm and well being of enemies till all the things takes an age to die


I perceive that it is a sprawling, open recreation from a comparatively small developer, but it surely’s additionally a developer that has been making the identical type of recreation, proper right down to the levelling techniques and the fight, time and again for 20 years. All that point and so they nonetheless haven’t received the basics proper. On the identical time, it’s all beginning to really feel a bit stale. As a lot as I just like the method, and as a lot as I benefit from the setting and the jetpack, there’s no actual surprises for anybody who has performed Gothic or Risen. Earlier than scripting this assessment, I regarded again over RPS founder Alec Meer’s (RPS in peace) writing on the Risen collection to verify I wasn’t misremembering and, certain sufficient, discovered him experiencing the identical points, making the identical complaints.


If it was only a case of jankiness attributable to a small, overambitious staff then I’d be blissful to provide Piranha Bytes a move at the very least yet one more time. Sadly, that’s not the case. Elex 2 is, by far, probably the most disagreeable, mean-spirited and plain nasty recreation I’ve performed in a really very long time. Nearly everybody you encounter is only a horrible particular person. They’re typically impolite and abrasive, and even the friendlier ones are simply annoying. One in all your social gathering characters, actually named Nasty, is flat out abusive. I’m assuming that that is presupposed to be “mature” or “reasonable” but it surely’s neither of these issues. The sport is sort of a twelve 12 months previous who thinks that being impolite and swearing consistently makes him nicely ‘ard. These aren’t nuanced, well-rounded characters, they’re flat automatons who’re unrelentingly terrible as an alternative of getting any character.


It may very well be argued that one thing was misplaced in translation, since Piranha Bytes is a German developer and I’m enjoying the sport in English, however I feel that’s simply being terribly unfair to all the beautiful Germans I’ve encountered in my lifetime. It might additionally ignore the truth that the identical unpleasantness isn’t restricted to NPC dialogue. Elex 2, like its predecessors, has an issue with girls. It’s not fairly as entrance and centre as in earlier titles from the developer, since there are a very good quantity of totally clothed feminine characters, however the angle on show is shockingly backwards. The ladies within the recreation are bitchy harridans, jealous and spiteful. After I determined to have Jax proceed his relationship with Caija (a personality from the primary recreation who he had since had a toddler with after which deserted) each of the opposite girls in his entourage reacted negatively, dropping loyalty. That’s one character who I’d hardly interacted with, and one other who verbally abused Jax at each alternative. I had no thought they even have been potential romance choices, however in fact they hated Jax hooking up with one other lady. As you could possibly guess, not one of the male characters had the identical response.


Talking of Jax, he isn’t any higher. It doesn’t matter what choices you select, he will likely be impolite, indignant and shouty at each alternative. For me, this got here to a head throughout a late recreation dialog along with his son, Dex (who’s, for the report, seven or eight years previous at most) the place I used to be offered with the choice to threaten to beat him. Worse nonetheless, at the very least one of many companion characters will approve of that call. Even with the final nastiness of the characters within the recreation, this blindsided me, pressured me out of the sport and away from my pc for a while.


There’s definitely room for video games that cope with little one abuse as an issue, or which have such deeply flawed folks as protagonists, however that requires care and tact. Neither of these are on show right here, or anyplace else within the recreation. As an alternative it’s a throwaway line, with no actual consequence, that exists so that you can showcase how eeeeeeevil you might be. There’s additionally loads of fascinating dialogue available about what kind of behaviour video games enable us to painting, how they select to condone or condemn and why we react viscerally to some actions and never others, however this assessment is already far too lengthy.

Cyberpunk 2077 is the sport that sprang to thoughts whereas I used to be mulling over the way to strategy this assessment. It’s additionally a janky, overambitious RPG stuffed with sweary, violent folks doing horrible issues to one another. The distinction is that, by and huge, the characters in Cyberpunk are compelling, well-rounded characters with depth and nuance. They’re incessantly likeable, even caring, forcing us to cope with the contradictory features of human nature. Elex 2 has none of that, it’s only a recreation crammed with deeply disagreeable folks.



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