[Review] ELEA: Paradigm Shift – Nintendo Switch

Written by Akio Kahoshi
  • Developer: Kyodai
  • Publisher: Kyodai
  • Release date: 07/02/2020
  • Price: £6.99 / $7.99
  • Review code provided by Kyodai

Intro

At first glance ELEA feels like a first-person adventure game, after a visually trippy opening section we help a pregnant Elea navigate her home and solve some simple problems. While navigating the dark with a flashlight made the process more frustrating than it needed to be, this section seems like a decent introduction to the world and its story. After that, everything goes off the rails.

The next section is very much what I imagine a bad acid trip would be like. Confusing imagery and unrelated gameplay stand in stark contrast to the down to earth game I was playing moments earlier. After spending far too much time waiting for something to happen in a mostly empty space, I progressed to the next section.

Here I was back to the adventure style gameplay, and while there were a couple of interesting puzzles I was also forced to walk back and forth to the same locations multiple times, forcing me to ride the game’s painfully slow elevator. But I fumbled through the game, and more seemingly random gameplay shifts, to finish this next segment. Finally, the store seemed to be about to really start as I tried to unravel the mystery of what happened to Elea’s husband… when the game suddenly ended.

As a whole, ELEA feels like three prologues to a book all shoved together, and then when you turn to chapter one you find that the prologues were the entire book. Multiple story threads are created, none of which seem to tie into each other. I kept waiting for things to be explained, but the sudden ending left more questions than it answered.

LOOKS WITHOUT SUBSTANCE

Despite the inexplicable story, I was still hopeful for the game to be good because it looks pretty good. Navigating the two main areas of the game shows an attention to detail that felt like the game developers actually cared. Unfortunately, that is about the only good thing I can say.

While I do not mind occasional frame drops, in ELEA they were constant. There is no excuse for it either, as better looking games with larger spaces run flawlessly on Switch. The game also requires loading constantly. Far more than felt necessary for how small the spaces were. I also experienced multiple game crashes, and can only surmise that the developers simply did not know how to optimize loading and memory usage on the Switch

Walking into a room, the room would be dark until automatic lighting triggered. While there is certainly some logic to this on a spaceship, it led to me finding crew members going about their business in the pitch black. It also made searching rooms difficult as a room might have several sections that all lit separately, and only the one the player stands in will be lit at a time.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

The music, while not particularly interesting, was at least bearable. The voice acting most definitely was not though. While Elea’s voice acting is well performed and clear, every other character either sounds amateurish, poorly recorded, or a combination of the two. If not for having subtitles on I would not have known what some of the secondary characters were saying because the voices were almost inaudible.

The final straw is definitely the game’s controls. You can run, but only when the game allows. It was fairly common for a message telling me I could run would display on my screen, but if I tried the game would let me know I could not run at that time. Even when I could run, often pushing the run button would not work the first time.

This was most frustrating during the game’s chase scene, where I died multiple times because my character did not run when I pushed the run button. While this was the most noticeable instance, there were other cases where the game simply did not work when it should have.

FINAL THOUGHTS

To be perfectly honest, this game should not be sold. There are no redeeming qualities that I can use to recommend it to anyone. It feels like a tech demo from a pre-alpha game, that was then dropped onto the eShop. Certainly, there were points that showed promise, but they never come close to being realized.

Pros

  • None

Cons

  • Poor performance
  • Bad voice acting
  • Disjointed story
  • Inconsistent controls

Verdict
Normally here I would recommend the game to players that may enjoy certain aspects of it, but I have nothing here to recommend. Skip this game.
1/5

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