We never forget our first RPG. The wide-open world, the cast of fascinating characters, the lore rabbit-holes, and the endless possibilities. For so many gamers, this is the backbone of their experience, with the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series still doing big business to this day. Many of us want our choices to matter when we pick up a game.
With the release of ELEX II this month, we thought we’d take a look back at one of the most underrated trailblazers of modern RPGs, and a game that some of our readers may never have heard of – the original ELEX.
Produced by Piranha Bytes, the studio behind Risen and Gothic, ELEX is a great example of what can be done with the RPG genre, from serious moral dilemmas to quirky and fun combat options. The game has stood the test of time, and drawn a cult following since its release in 2017, after those who picked it up experienced the unpredictable world of Magalan for themselves.
To be planted in a huge open world game with a task ahead that can be achieved through multiple avenues is an intoxicating experience, and ELEX gave fans of the genre something new to try. The post-apocalyptic world met fantasy and science fiction in a seemingly endless story that was driven heavily by the player and their choices. Aside from the vastness of the map, ELEX also offered hundreds of quests with several outcomes apiece, along with a clever twist on a morality meter and a story that took you into the heart of a community ravaged by warring factions.
As with the new game, ELEX takes place on the world of Magalan, a tragically ravaged wasteland that was destroyed by a catastrophic meteor shower. These meteors brought with them the coveted ELEX, a resource that’s crucial to sustaining life on the planet. After the impact, what was left of society splintered into tight-knit factions of roguish outcasts, and a fight for supremacy began.
Each of these factions had their own idea of what the future held for the planet and its new resource, driving them to territorial wars and atrocities committed in the name of progress. The Berserkers saw the impact as a sign to reject the modern world and its technology, and instead revert back to farming and hunting, surviving by harnessing the ELEX to repair some of the ecological damage done by the extinction event. Using ELEX in this way soon began to change their physiology, and they gained new mystical powers.
The Clerics went another way, worshipping their god Calaan in the crater left by the earth-shattering meteors, and striving to create powerful weapons using ELEX. Their pious lifestyle does well to hide the fact that their arsenal of plasma guns is the most powerful the planet has ever seen, and their plans to “purify” Magalan become increasingly alarming in this light.
Breaking away from these two groups came the Outlaws, a wide-reaching society of outcasts and hedonists. Using ELEX to create astonishingly powerful drugs called stims, the Outlaws chase an endless high, stopping at nothing to get their hands on raw resources, food, and weapons.
Lastly, there are the Albs, a society of habitual ELEX users who have lost all the pigment in their skin and the warmth in their hearts. This cold and emotionless faction prize logic and cunning above all else, and are unafraid to wage calculated war on the other people of Magalan to get their hands on more ELEX. Their consumption keeps them clinically minded, able to fashion futuristic technology and enact large-scale battle campaigns on the surrounding clans.
This is where our protagonist comes in, the gruff and accomplished Alb Commander Jax. A loyal servant to his faction, he is shot down during a mission and allowed to withdraw entirely from the influence of ELEX. This leaves him scared and alone, concerned that the mysterious Hybrid the Albs have been working for may not be all it seems, and that his people may have gone too far in their pursuit of ELEX. As we take control of him, this vast world of politics, war, and powerful resources stretches ahead, and he must find out who shot him down and why.
During Jax’s adventures he can befriend or battle those he meets along the way, and must choose a faction to join. Every choice he makes in this world will come back to help or hinder him, and every move helps him decide what kind of man he will become. Just beware – taking ELEX is a fast way to become powerful and enhance abilities, but it will take its toll on Jax just as it does everyone else in Magalan.
If you haven’t picked up ELEX yet, now would be the perfect time, with the sequel also waiting once you’ve decided the fate of Magalan. ELEX II follows on from the story, and expands the number of quests and choices even further, introducing a new faction to meet, and a bigger threat in the form of an alien invasion.
Check out the colossal world of ELEX II, available now on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox, or pick up a copy of the original ELEX today.