Elliot Quest is an adventure/RPG that looks to have been inspired on classic 8-bit titles such as The Legend of Zelda II. Originally a kickstarted game releasing last November on the Steam store it’s now made its way over to the Wii U and OUYA. Titles in recent years basically go about holding the players hand and leading them through the game. Developer Ansimuz Games instead goes back to the games of old and simply dumps you into a world with no direction and expects you to discover the game on your own.
The story behind this game is very vague in the early stages. In fact the game starts with our protagonist saying “Right. Find the guardian. End the Satar’s Curse. Let’s keep things simple for now, Cara.” And that’s pretty much all you get before being dumped into the world. As you progress through each location and dungeon the story slowly unfolds through Elliot’s inner monologue overlaid over the gameplay, as well as through a series of flashbacks. The game also presents three different endings; good, bad and something in the middle, the outcome of which is determined by a set of choices given to us over the course of the game.
The 8bit art style is fantastic, it’s got a nice colourful aesthetic and the animation is well presented. The amount of references to other titles is great from the master bow painting, Clouds buster blade or Error resident in the first village. The game runs petty smoothly for the most part put there are some sections with slowdown when there’s a lot going on in the scene. Elliot Quest features a solid, enjoyable soundtrack which stays true to the 8-bit games of old. In terms of length you’re looking at a good 8 – 10 hours to complete (depending on how lost you get), of course this time is extended by the fact there are three possible outcomes and a large amount of collectables scattered across Urele.
The mysterious Urele Island is explored through a 2D sidescroller perspective with a topdown overworld map, very reminiscent of NES classic The Legend of Zelda II. The game’s setup also takes a lot of influence from the ‘Metroidvania’ style of play as the start of Elliot’s journey is very limited as he can only run, jump and fire arrows. While having the freedom to go where you want may sound appealing it’s very easy to get lost as there’s a large number of locations to traverse. Without first acquiring the appropriate weaponry and abilities to gain access to hidden areas and new locations you can spend long periods backtracking or going around in circles. Weaponry is what you would expect such as a shield and bombs but by defeating the Island’s guardians you gain their magical abilities, such as an attack which turns you into a small whirlwind to stun/drag down flying enemies or catch updrafts to reach new heights.
Dungeon exploration is very similar to what you would expect of a Zelda title. Each dungeon features a series of puzzles that usually can only be solved with the use of a tool hidden deep within the temple. With little in terms of story or any direction to the overall game, the collection of these tools and abilities gives more of a sense of achievement. Even the map resembles that of an early Zelda title with the area mapped out as a collection of solid blocks which reveal themselves as you switch scene. Of course each dungeon and area isn’t complete without the traditional boss fight which gets progressively more difficult as you advance further in. Each fight provides a great deal of challenge that can satisfy or frustrate but are ultimately enjoyable.
Elliot Quest includes a levelling system in which killing enemies nets you experience points to gain levels; for each level you are given one point to spend on upgrading one of your six attributes. For example you could upgrade your agility to improve your fire rate and movement speed or how about increasing you vitality to improve you defences and gain higher potency health pickups. Spending points on these skills isn’t really necessary to completing the game but it does enhance the overall experience. Death also has an additional consequence. Each time you are killed and respawn you lose quite a significant amount of experience points; a couple of mistimed jumps could see you losing a stack of experience you spent over an hour collecting.
As I’ve been playing this on the Wii U, let’s see how this game has been adapted for this particular console. The main game is displayed through the television with the gamepad holding your inventory, map and skills, although pausing the game switches this view over to the TV as well. Having the map constantly displayed in your hands is a big help as it’s so easy to get lost in this game and being able to switch out weapons/abilities simply by tapping the screen is a neat addition. Of course this game also supports off-screen play if you’d prefer.
Elliot Quest is a great homage to the classic 8-bit era that inspired it. The game is visually impressive, boasts a catchy, enjoyable soundtrack and features hours upon hours of replayability. However the best thing about this game also happens to be the worst; it definitely doesn’t hold your hand. While it is very easy to get lost on your journey across the island the game provides a great challenge that’ll keep players entertained for a long time.
This review is based off a review code of Elliot Quest provided by Ansimuz Games.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.