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The RPG Codex has reviewed ELEX:
More information.RPG Codex Review: ELEX!
Five long years have passed since Piranha Bytes had a collective bout of dementia and released the nightmare known as Risen 2. The release of Risen 3 two years later showed that the German developers were evidently rejecting their medication because the game turned out to be even worse than its prequel.
With such disasters under their belt, it would take only the greatest of madmen to await the release of their next game: ELEX. Especially since, to make matters even worse, ELEX just looked kind of stupid in the pre-release materials, like some crazy 80s action cartoon universe mashup, but still not corny enough for the style to seem as fun as that of the Wizardry or Might and Magic series.
Though you know what they say. Only the insane shall prosper.
Starting the game, I was dead sure that it would be horrible. Meanwhile I sunk into it for 85 long hours, which was only enough to complete one “full world lawnmowing” playthrough – save game counter tells me 70 hours, but I got an 80h playtime cheevo at 65, so I must have spent 15 idling and reloading (which sure is a lot of reloading). However, I also know that it took some folks just 20-something hours to breeze through it.
If I had to give you a short overall impression of ELEX, I would probably call it the same way one thread on our forums refers to Divine Divinity – it is probably the best shit game I’ve ever played. Sure, there are parts of it that are downright abysmal, broken or user-unfriendly. But at the same time, it is so incredibly addictive and fun that I don’t remember the last time a game sucked me in so completely for so long.
Perhaps a lot of it has to do with expectations and experience. I’ve witnessed the horrors of Risen 2 and 3 first-hand, so seeing the numerous improvements over these in ELEX was already a surprise for me, because ELEX is objectively an all-around better game than the both of those combined, which I suppose is at least one proven case of a developer being held back by an idiotic publisher. There is still a lot of room for improvement left to be sure, and I do hope Piranha Bytes do not waste the opportunity. If I had to give them at least one major piece of advice as to how ELEX 2 could be made better, it would definitely be to scale things down – reduce the world size, but improve its content. Gothic 3 was already an example of them overreaching, and ELEX in many ways repeats the same mistake.
Your very own expectations are also likely to influence how you will receive ELEX. If you are deluded enough to expect another Gothic, you might as well forget it. But if you still have that open world, no-nonsense PB game itch that needs scratching (and you know you do), ELEX might just be the thing you need. It looks dumb, it might be infuriating sometimes, but all I can say is: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
*Darth Roxor injects more ELEX into his eyeball*