Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Adventure, Puzzle &, Platformer
Release Date: January 10, 2019 (EU & NA)
Close to Elli-vated Goodness.
Elli is a new adventure, puzzle, platformer from developer/publisher BandanaKid. The game takes inspiration from top-down Zelda games and uses an isometric view with a fixed camera as you jump, flip switches, and find keys in the land of Mandragora.
The story starts you off as Elli wakens to celebrate her birthday when Ghasti steals the Crystals of Time. Elli waste no time jumping into action and embarks on her quest. The game starts you off scaling the hillside of a temple through standard platforming and finding rings that can be used to power lifts around the island world helping you to reach higher places.
As you move deeper into the world of Mandragora you will be asked to help the small inhabitants of the land to fix machines, short fetch quest, and more.
Elli has all the standard platforming moves of walking, running, and jumping. One item at your disposal that was used in clever ways is her magical staff. Her staff can be used to show you hidden platforms and diamonds (the game’s currency), and breaking pots.
This mechanic while interesting, isn’t used to the fullest potential throughout the game and reminded me somewhat of Batman’s “Detective Vision” in the Arkham series, or other ‘all-seeing’ abilities that so many video game protagonists seem to be gifted with.
As you jump from platform to platform reaching the end of the section of the map, you may encounter one of the games biggest annoyances, the fixed camera. Several times in the game I found myself missing a floating object that I had to jump to or completely missing a platform because the camera angle was fixed and didn’t allow for more precise movement.
This typically isn’t that much of a bother as Elli will often encounter small Mandragorians with their gongs that act as the games save points. If there is one thing Elli is generous with its the save spots within the game. Usually, you would come across a save point right after a difficult bit of platforming or in the middle of a harder puzzle.
Along with platforming, Elli has a lot of puzzles that require you to drop heavier cubes onto weighted pads to open up doors. Sometimes these cubes will be wooden and require you to avoid fire. Other times you may need to throw the rocks opening up a door and then advancing a little bit through some platforms before you are able to pick it back up again.
Luckily if you drop or throw any of the cubes in the wrong direction, you can revisit the little magical Mandragorian and he will give you another cube.
There are also several timed puzzles which may require you to navigate Elli through platforms to a door, or through sections of crumbling floors, all while being shot at by fireballs as you make your way to the other side of the room. Oftentimes you are rewarded with a key or diamonds as your reward.
One other noticeable aspect of the gameplay, are the short 2D side-scrolling portions of the game when you are within the Crystals of Time. These moments usually have you out running a world-swallowing black hole while double jumping and flashing forward a few feet using Elli’s teleport mechanic.
The 2D sections aren’t very long and once completing them you are rewarded with one of the Crystals of Time that you have been chasing. I guess if you are going to emulate Zelda games, the 2D sections in Link’s Awakening are similar in how infrequent they are used here in Elli. They do offer a nice change of pace to the game and were a nice addition to the game.
All along your journey, you acquire diamonds of various colors. From time to time you may come across a Mandragorian shop where you can buy items to change Elli’s appearance. These vary from hats, staffs, and clothing that Elli can wear.
These are purely cosmetic in nature and don’t add anything to the game other than a means to which selling your diamonds go towards.
The music in Elli is pleasant enough to listen to and I really enjoyed the various tracks and their difference as you entered different areas in the game. The sound effects in the game were also decent enough.
The characters talk in an Animal Crossings-like gibberish with text bubbles accompanying the dialogue. Elli does have other sounds that fit nicely into the game’s overall aesthetics and feel. There are the gongs letting you know your game is saved, environmental sounds chirping and rustling around you, the sound of the fiery floor tiles ready to roast Elli and electricity panels waiting to shock her.
Each of the game’s sections feels very unique. My favorite was the metallic clink and clanking in the underworld area. My biggest complaint however, is that its platforming can be a bit frustrating at times. Often I found myself missing jumps over and over again because the fixed camera angle made it hard to decipher just where you needed to jump.
This issue is similar to some of the LEGO franchise games that use a similar fixed camera while requiring you to make precise jumps on to small floating platforms. If you can get past that you will find some clever puzzle designs and a charming little world.
Elli tries really hard to mimic the success of past 2D Zelda games and adventure platform games like Mario. What it gets right is only overshadowed by its overall rough edges, simplistic nature, and its fixed camera. The puzzles are clever, but not difficult. Overall I’d say Elli is near to be a good game but falls a bit and is just a decent game. And lastly, once you have beaten Elli, there isn’t much else to do in the game and no real replay value in my opinion.
THE VERDICT: 6/10
*Review Key Provided by BandanaKid
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This post was written by jonathanober