Put yourself in the shoes of the main protagonist in a film or book – one in which they find themselves unable to die. It never turns out to be a happy time, with them normally spending their immortal lives moping around, complaining about the boredom, a lost love or how things aren’t as a good as they were in the 1750s. In Elliot Quest our hero has the same problem – he isn’t able to die.
So guess what? He’s not a happy bunny either.
Elliot Quest started out life on Kickstarter and now, after much success, has arrived on console. The game is an action RPG much like the early Zelda games, with a mixture of platforming, action, puzzles and RPG style leveling up.
You play as Elliot, and as I said before he is having a spot of trouble dying. After his wife goes missing, Elliot spirals into depression, which leads to him taking his own life. But because of an ancient curse by a demon, he can’t die and only has a limited time before he becomes a demon himself. It is up to you to help Elliot venture out into the world in search of guardians who can lift the curse of immortality. You explore dungeons, unearth secrets and fight big bosses to achieve your final goal. But does that translate to a fun game?
When you first start off, it’s like being thrust straight back to the early nineties. I’m back in a student house, with a few mates, messing around on my SNES or Gameboy colour, swapping the controller around to each other every time we lose a life. Elliot Quest is a massive homage to those early games in both its tone and style. Basically put, you have a jump button, and an attack button that lets you utilise a bow and arrow. As you progress you gain experience points, which you can spend to enhance your skills and abilities. The game consists of moving across the map and visiting dungeons, jumping deadly obstacles, shooting monsters, collecting keys to open doors and picking up gold coins to spend in shops for goodies. There are some standard boss fights that are all about learning patterns but aside from those, that is pretty much Elliot Quest in a nutshell.
It will feel so familiar, and very comforting, when you start playing. It does all things very well and it all works brilliantly, but there is nothing new in this game that you haven’t seen before. But that’s the point I guess and I think those who love those old school RPGs will be in gamer heaven. It can also be very difficult, with precision jumping needed and skills employed in order to progress further. It’s all very old school in its design and that again will appeal to a certain type of gamer. However, there are plenty of save points throughout the levels so you’ll only be doing some minor backtracking when you start to struggle, and it’s always fun to try and try again. You will die a lot, but it’s a quick return each and every time, and apart from losing experience points, it’s not a deep tragedy.
It must be said that I am utterly useless at these types of games. Maybe I was good once, but I’ve been overindulged by many super easy modern games and my reflexes aren’t what they used to be. So for those who think of themselves as normal, decent gamers, there should be plenty of challenge and satisfaction to be found. That did however mean that my personal interest in the game peaked and dipped throughout. I got very excited when fighting bosses and discovering new dungeons, but my heart sunk to new depths when I had to repeat a difficult jumping section for the umpteenth time. It’s a mixed bag you see.
Story wise and the developers tell a nice fable, with smart little cut scenes and subtitles of Elliot’s thoughts through the journey. In the looks department we are talking, once again, about those old school graphics, maps, screens and animations. However it looks lovely, crisp and it shows that those behind it really love their genre. The soundtrack borrows and composes a completely original score from the influence of thousands of games before it. It’s epic, dramatic and makes you feel warm inside.
Overall and I’ve really enjoyed my time with Elliot Quest. It’s a brilliant homage to those games I played back in the 1990s, with bleary eyed mates and cheap lager. For some, this will be the Holy Grail of retro gaming, and if you are one of them, you’ll want to follow Elliot on a trip down memory lane.