REVIEW – The biggest problem I have when I think of a game is when I think of only one word: nothingness. Now, it’s not easy to explain it because if something is very good or pretty lousy, it’s easy to express that, but if something is just that bland, it’s challenging. Unfortunately, ELEX 2 from Piranha Byte is like that. The problem? The first one had similar issues…
Bugs and gameplay barely go anywhere. Everything is present to make the game not stand out from the crowd.
Ex lex Elex
Piranha Bytes is the dev team behind Gothic, then Risen, and… maybe Gothic 1 and 2 were good, the rest from then on mainly were average, maybe except for the first Risen. Not excellent, not lousy, but all of them had bugs aplenty (and amnesia was a typical storyline). The first part of Elex (screw the capitalization) was similar, but it was just over the top grindy, and the combat was somewhat reasonable. Now, a sequel could be expected to outdo the previous one in every way, but Elex 2 failed to do so, even though it has some good ideas. The open-world with Magalan is what the first part should have been. Five factions, including a variety of creatures and some serious balancing nonsense, are why the game fell away from receiving a nine out of ten. There’s nothing worse than one moment of fighting raptor-like enemies and then running into a giant robot that kills you in one hit. Well, isn’t that an excellent way to give up on the game and life in general?
The game design is also questionable, plus it wastes our time, as the NPCs are similarly quickly choked by the opponent in side missions, which we can barely wound. It feels almost psychotic, but it does have some effect in that NPCs behave towards us depending on our actions, making them sometimes quite hostile. But the imbalance itself wouldn’t be such a problem if we at least knew where we outpowered without even a chance to breathe. And from that comes the grind to get stronger, and the side missions will be something you often do. It isn’t that exciting, and in the meantime, it is becoming clear that the combat system and Jax are about as merged as water and oil. It’s not flexible, so the combos don’t always fit together, which is not the best. The dynamics are not there, and I understand that Elex 2 is not a prominent console exclusive, but the previous game seemed better because the lock-on mechanics don’t work flawlessly in the new game. Oh dear, that doesn’t bode too well.
The game needs patience to get slightly better at fighting with marginally better weapons, but the question is, is it worth persevering that long? I’m not sure because certainly the console frame rate isn’t the best, and when you’re trying to dodge something while the performance is crippling you, you might often end up taking a hit all due to the game being a slug on console. At least the RPG basics are decent (weapon upgrades, making food, skill upgrades with experience points), but there’s not that much innovation in that area either. I can name a new addition, though, in the form of the jetpack because it opens up the game strategically. If you’re not in a winning position, you can escape with it. If we want to get out of the game (as in, getting out of bounds), it might help us achieve it.
However, highlighting exploration in this way doesn’t mean Elex 2 deserves an eight out of ten: it’s already fallen short of that, and even a seven is undeserved: Magalan’s world is fascinating, but the PlayStation 5 version’s performance is simply abysmal. There’s screen tearing at several points, and the gameplay feels unstable. It’s more worth playing on PC, but it’s not sure to engage the masses of players even there. And then, I haven’t even mentioned the graphics themselves: they aren’t outstanding, and the only thing I’m left with from the game is a troublesome thought: the art style of the scenes themselves is seriously hideous. I say that in a strictly subjective way. Others might like it, but for me… ah, no. And at the same time, a lot of the animation is so mixed because some felt natural, and some were overly mechanical. It’s terrible, as is some faulty, missing lighting during dialogue. Applause.
Rather a telex
We can settle for 6.5 points out of ten, but I don’t think Elex 2 deserves more than that. I think it’s a six out of ten on console, but overall, it’s a six and a half out of ten. It has visuals that hit PlayStation 3 levels in places, with an old-school vibe and workable RPG elements. Still, otherwise, it can be considered such a forgettable product that it wouldn’t be surprising if this game is nicely pitched by the Embracer Group as a PlayStation Plus and/or Xbox Live Gold free-to-play game within a year. This is a seven out of ten for those who like grindy gameplay or Piranha Bytes games. But still, it’s just nothingness. It will not change the world, and it will not change anything. Unfortunately.
+ Okay in its essential RPG elements
+ The world itself is not bad
+ It feels old-fashioned
– …but maybe too old-fashioned?
– The console performance is lacklustre
– Forgettable in its entirety
Publisher: THQ Nordic (=Embracer Group)
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publication: March 1, 2022