25/10/2018

๐Ÿš€ Review: Elea - Episode 1 "A flawed futuristic adventure" ๐Ÿš€ #GameDev #IndieGame

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Game Title: Elea (Episode 1)
Developer: Kyodai
Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam)
Elea casts you as the titular protagonist who, having lost contact with her husband, Ethan, when his craft ‘The Pilgrimage’ landed on a distant planet, thirteen years later signs up for a follow-up voyage in order to find out what happened to the original crew.
The first chapter of Elea is split into two parts, the first a trippy sojourn through a virtual memory lane and the second half is  set aboard the space ship itself as it makes its way to the distant planet on which Ethan hopefully resides. 


The initial portion of the game features very solid visuals and surreal imagery as well as great ambient sound design but it does come with some flaws that affected my enjoyment of the game. The majority of the voice work feels quite unengaged and some of the writing feels a bit stilted but the main issue for me was the issue of needing to ‘trigger’ certain sections in order to move forwards and some stuttering in the latter half of the game.
As Elea is a first-person adventure, a large portion of the game is exploring 3D representations of memories and as already mentioned, the visuals are pleasing to the eye whilst also having a sense of the unreal about them due to the heavy usage of visual effects, however there were several occasions when I would appear in a memory and wander around with nothing happening as I hadn’t looked at a particular item for long enough or stood in a particular spot. As the game has a lot of incidental items and notes to read, which are scattered about, it wasn’t always clear what I needed to do (or not do) in order to move the narrative forwards.
The second part of the game, set on the craft itself is a lot more hands-on with Elea being more of an active participant as opposed to a voyeur as in the virtually-simulated prologue. Whilst the graphics are again top-notch, the pace of movement and openness of the ship can lead to segments which are slow and whilst opening up the game play and mystery of the situation somewhat, have more bland dialogue and story threads that don’t quite add up. 
For instance, in one section I had to spike someone’s coffee in order to gain access to a part of the ship that was blocked off. I put sleeping drugs in their coffee and waited but I obviously hadn’t triggered the next step. I checked my current objective and it was to return to my quarters, as I was making my way back, I triggered a monologue insinuating that I should return to my quarters to listen to a private recording of Elea’s son, which then made sense. However, after this, I went back up to the person I had spiked and she was sitting on the floor, lolling her head around with the empty cup next to her, I picked up the item I needed….but the objective was to ‘find out who attacked her’…but surely…I did? The scene was laid out as I would have assumed, she drank the coffee and collapsed on the floor, drugged, why was there a leap of narrative logic that assumed I would know that she had actually been attacked separately when there was no evidence of this beyond my objective changing?
Aside from these technical and pacing issues (the game is very picky about when you can run), Elea has a solid story and scenario laid out with interesting visuals and immersive sound design.
Summary
Hopefully patches will smooth out the playing experience and future episodes will learn from the areas in which this chapter stumbles. 
If you are a fan of casual adventures, there is definitely something here but it feels a patch or two away from realising its full potential in its current state.

๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ง
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)