Thursday, May 25, 2017

Elliot Quest Review (Nintendo 3DS)

Written by: Patrick Orquia

Title: Elliot Quest
Publisher: PlayEveryWare Games
Developer: Luis Zuno (Ansimuz Games)
Genre: Action-adventure, platformer, RPG
Release Date: May 11, 2017 (3DS eShop)
No. of Players: 1 player
Price: $14.99

What do you get when you combine a whole lot of Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, a bit Megaman, a dash of Metroid, and sprinkled with Kid Icarus? A retro-awesome game! Elliot Quest is such a one, another 8-bit retro-inspired indie game that takes the best things that work with the aforementioned gamea and give it a new breath of fresh air. It looks, plays, and sounds like a game that came out in the late 80s to early 90s. Developed by only a single person, Luis Zuno, it was first released in 2015 on home consoles and PC, and now has been ported to Nintendo 3DS. Like other action-adventure RPG games, this one feels very much at home on the portable console, and now it looks even better (for me, at least), with stereoscopic 3D.

Elliot Quest is about the adventures of Elliot, a man cursed by an evil Satar (a demon). He cannot die, but gets weaker and weaker by the day, and if he doesn’t lift the curse, he will become a Satar himself. He has to get help from the Guardians that keep the evil Satar from taking over Urele, Elliot’s home world.

This game is like the spiritual sequel of Nintendo’s Zelda II: The Adventures of Link and like that game, the player takes the titular Elliot on a journey across an open world through towns and dungeons to obtain a variety of power ups and gears. Some are automatic skills, such as the ability to double jump and jump off enemies, very handy in clearing large gaps and high platforms. The others can be equipped, such as the power of wind and the ability to shoot fire arrows. These abilities (except for the double jump and ability to jump off enemies) consume mana points and are obtained by defeating the Guardians that serve as dungeon bosses.

There are 5 main dungeons in the game, 4 of which are needed to be cleared in order to gain access to the last one. These dungeons can be tackled practically in any order, but in order to access all the sections of particular one, Elliot must already have access to certain abilities. The game doesn’t specifically point out which to be tackled next, so it’s up to the player to do a bit of exploration and some trial and error.

Another facet of the game that is worth mentioning is how the game handle dying. Elliot technically cannot die, but he still have HP in the form of hearts (another Zelda homage). Elliot can have his hearts increased by defeating enemies and clearing dungeons, and he loses HP when hit by enemies. When he loses all hearts, he technically “dies” and respawns at the last save point. Upon dying, Elliot loses XP, which can be quite frustrating especially to players who is only playing the game for the first time. XP is obtained by defeating enemies. When the XP bar becomes full, Elliot levels up. Each level up gives the player the option to increase certain attributes, such as strength and agility, and each increase gives additional abilities, such as HP regeneration and higher arrow fire rate. Leveling up could be quite tedious because of the XP loss mechanic, so the player may be need to replay dungeons to defeat enemies again to obtain more XP. And the more you play, the more you get to master the game.

This game is no cake walk, and can be very challenging especially in the latter parts of it. Some enemies are hard to defeat and hurts a lot. Add to that the many platforms to reach and gaps to clear that may require pinpoint accuracy and timing, and you have a good amount of challenge in a game wrapped in colorful retro-inspired graphics and chip tunes.

All praises aside, this game is far from perfect, at least this particular version of the game. I have not played the past versions of the game, but the 3DS version has one major flaw: it suffers from frequent frame rate drops and slow downs, though only the visuals, the audio is not affected. These slow downs happen rather frequently the more the game is played, and usually hit during traversing of dungeons. The frame rate drops usually disappear after exiting the game and going back to it, but often comes back almost immediately, which may require the game to be completely closed (i.e. going back to the home menu of 3DS) and then relaunching it, which can be much of a hassle. Also, if the slow down hit with no save point near in sight, the player is then forced to play the game with a constant “bullet time effect” until the game can be saved, which is very annoying, because it will mess up with your timing in performing, for example, double jumps or jumping off enemies or avoiding enemy projectiles and traps.

I cannot wholly recommend getting this game because of the technical issues that hinder it from becoming a legitimately great game, but I did enjoy playing the game despite the issues. It is a very good game, after all, blending the many characteristics that made games such as the early Zelda, Megaman, and Metroid games good and the modern nuances of the current generation. I hope these technical issues get patched soon, and when that happens, Elliot Quest on 3DS will be remembered as an amazing game and one of the best for the console.

REPLAY VALUE: high (ideal for speed gaming)

  • Excellent 8-bit retro-inspired visual design and audio, gameplay, and story
  • Heavily inspired by Zelda 2, with game mechanics and design from Megaman, Metroid, and Kid Icarus also thrown in
  • Can be very challenging especially to new players, with a very punishing XP loss mechanic and platforming that requires high accuracy, but can be rewarding with multiple playthroughs
  • Very ideal for the 3DS, as this game works best on a portable console
  • The touchscreen allows for abilities, items, and power ups to be swapped quickly and efficiently without pausing the game
  • The stereoscopic 3D makes the parallax scrolling and particle effects, such as rain and dust, look better than in previous iterations of the game

  • Very limited in-gams info is provided to the player, from how the control buttons work, to which area must be tackled next. The game is open world, but instructions or NPCs pointing out or providing clues to the next area or item of interest would have been much better.
  • The number of items that can be carried at any given time is limited to two. The fact that you can accumulate lots of coins while playing the game and yet you can only buy 2 items at a time is very frustrating.
  • FREQUENT FRAME RATE DROPS/SLOW DOWNS. I cannot emphasize this enough. This massive flaw makes the game almost impossible to play especially during the latter parts of the game. It’s hard to imagine how this game passed the quality control of Nintendo, if there ever was one done for this title. The game could have been rated higher if not for this one technical issue.

SCORE: 4/5 satars