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How had I never heard of open-world RPG Elex before?

by: Eric -

As a games writer, not many games slip past my radar, especially games as large and detailed as 2017's Elex. I was browsing the PlayStation Store last night when I stumbled upon Elex, on sale for an extremely reasonable $8.99. Reading the description, I saw the words "open world RPG" and "post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy", and jammed on the "Buy" button so hard I broke my thumbnail. (Not literally, but it makes the point).

I'm about three hours into Elex, which was developed by Piranha Bites, the folks behind Gothic and Risen. The combat in the game is tough as nails - I find myself running away from almost all but the lowliest of opponents. I'm playing on Easy, and almost everything I run into can one-shot me, so there's a lot of me jamming on my jetpack and scurrying away to higher ground. I've become very adept at surviving by fleeing and dodging bad guys, only entering combat when the story demands it or I'm absolutely cornered.

Elex takes place in a world that has been ravaged after a comet slammed into it, nearly wiping out the earth-like civilization that inhabited the place. In its wake, various factions have risen. Some rely on the tech left behind by the dead. Some reject that and want to get back to nature. And some just want to eat the chemicals left behind by the comet and suppress their emotions. The nature-lovers use magic, so I'm currently pursuing membership in their clan - though I keep messing up and stealing stuff, which makes them kill me.

So far, the storytelling in Elex is a little clunky, but the world building is next-level awesome. Wandering around the open world feels like a mix of Fallout and Dragon's Age, in all the best ways. There's tons of stuff laying around everywhere to pick up, and exploration is highly rewarding (if you don't get killed). What I'm not vibing with so far is the progression system, which seems overly gated. You have to travel to teachers to learn skills after unlocking the points, which is kind of balls. And even then, you have to have a huge pile of cash on hand, and your other stats have to be at a certain level. I mean, I'm three hours in, and I haven't unlocked a single skill yet, so that sucks.

Regardless, I'm having a great time with Elex. If you have a spare ten bucks laying around, this is a game that will definitely offer you a lot of content for your cash. Just set your frustration setting to "low", be prepared to die a lot, and you'll likely have a pretty good time. 

On a side note - Elex II is prepped and ready to arrive on March 1st, 2022. So you might just want to grab the first game on the cheap to get caught up on the world and such. Just having played a few hours, this trailer makes a lot more sense than it did before.