The planet of Magalan is under threat once again and it’s up to Jax to answer the call and fight against the Skyands. Is Elex 2 worth picking up though? Let’s just skip the games and be honest with each other. No. It really isn’t.
Developer: Piranha Bytes Publisher: THQ Nordic Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series Release Date: March 1st, 2022
After defeating the Albs, humanity began to settle back into their old habits. After ignoring his warning of a potential threat in the future, Jax chose to separate himself from the world. Eventually, as Jax’s heroic deeds faded into obscurity, the Skyands appeared in the sky. They strike at Jax who narrowly escapes with his life. He’s saved by a man named Adam and discovers lost all of his belongings and is infected by a mysterious disease. Adam promises to help Jax but only if he helps defend Magalan by fortifying the Basion to fight against the Skyands.
I’m going to do this review a little differently than I normally would. Usually, I prefer to talk about aspects of a game and let that flow into what I liked and disliked. Unfortunately, Elex 2 doesn’t really excel at anything at all, and to be upfront with you, dear reader, reviewing this game was a struggle. It just feels like there’s a bit to unpack and it’s not going to be very positive. So, what I’m going to do is break this review up into the positives and then follow it with all the negatives.
What I DO like:
Elex 2 is set in a world where science fiction and fantasy have been blended together to create a unique, post-apocalyptic world. Magalan is a lush world, covered in the ruins of an ancient civilization that feels much like our own. In the previous game, the various factions came with their own territories and that seems to have remained the same for the sequel. Only now, the factions have been shuffled around as we get to witness what became of them after the events of the first game.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Elex 2 is much more of a niche RPG in that it’s much more focused on players tailoring Jax around specific builds. There’s a lot of loot to find but if you don’t meet the item’s stat requirements, Jax won’t be able to use it. There’s a wide variety of gear to craft or buy so players can build Jax to be able to use guns, swords, axes, etc. I found myself catering Jax toward a more traditional sword, shield and bow build, with, of course, the ability to succeed at special dialogue options.
The combat itself is mostly fun and Magalan is a dangerous world. Elex 2 has always been a more difficult game and deadly enemies litter the landscape. Button mashing isn’t really an option in Elex 2, at least at the start of the game. Players can bring along one of the game’s seven companions or ride things out solo. The game is hard in its earlier hours however so I preferred to bring along Caja, Jax’s ex, mother of his son, and badass mage. Having that extra sword to distract the tougher enemies felt essential throughout the game.
What I DON’T Like:
The story in Elex 2 feels almost like a copy and paste of the first game’s story. It opens up with Jax being attacked and injured, losing all of his power in the process. The battle with the Skyands, which is a dumb name, feels almost exactly like the fight against the Albs in the first game, only now it’s aliens. Piranha Bytes basically copied their own homework and tried to change it slightly hoping we wouldn’t notice. Not to mention that Jax is almost constantly being affected by his infection and Jax is constantly grumbling about it while an obnoxious gurgling sound plays.
Then, there’s also the fact that the voice acting is incredibly dull. I don’t think I came across one character who sounded into it. Every performance felt phoned, in like the actors were picked up off the street at the last minute and given a script. It would be easier to swallow the game’s bad writing if the voice acting was halfway decent but it just isn’t. On top of the game’s awful voice acting, the music is also weird. More often than not, I would be in the middle of fighting a tough enemy while a whimsical tune played. There’s a time and a place for certain kinds of music and Elex 2 does not know how to differentiate between those life or death moments. I’m also convinced that the sound effects for the jet pack were recorded inside of a car while someone sprayed the windshield with a hose.
Another annoyance I had with the gameplay is that companions periodically request Jax’s help. I have no problem helping my friends out when they need me but in Elex 2, saying yes may end up completely hijacking your time. Caja at one point asked me to help her with a problem locating robots that were potentially spying on her people. Upon agreeing to help her, the game immediately took me to a random area, away from where I originally was and what I was doing. In fact, while I was helping her out, I came across Fox, another companion Jax can befriend and that too took time away from Caja’s request and in a wholly different direction. While I was able to complete both quests with relative ease, I’m not a fan of how they attempted to derail what I was doing.
I played Elex 2 on the PS5 in hopes of testing out the game’s Dualsense features but it doesn’t seem like those made the cut. In my time with the game, I didn’t notice any real use of the Dualsense’s haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, or the built-in microphone. Which is a real shame because it’s the one thing Playstation offers that elevates a third-party game in their favor.
Performance is a real problem with Elex 2 as well. In fact, the game performs so poorly and looks so bad graphically, I actually backed out of the game to make sure I had the correct version installed on my console. It is marred by screen tearing, framerate drops, hideous character models, and a relatively empty world. The former two really affect gameplay and make the combat more difficult than the game already tries to be.
Get Me Off of This Planet:
I tried my best to stomach Elex 2 despite all of its problems. The issue is, it’s a low-budget title with a lot of issues, all while expecting consumers to pay full price. I’m not trying to say it’s a game you can’t love, because I did indeed come to enjoy the previous game. But with Elex 2, I just couldn’t get through this sequel. I don’t mean to make any sort of negative statements about Piranha Bytes but it just feels lazy overall in just about every aspect.
While I actually came to enjoy the first game, I can’t say that I liked Elex 2 in the slightest. The game’s issues run deep and what good there is has been dragged to the bottom and drowned by technical problems, lazy writing, and horrible sound design. If I ever recommended this game to someone, it’s more than likely because I didn’t want to be friends with them anymore.
Review Disclosure Statement: Elex 2 was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more information on how we conduct and handle reviews here, please visit our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info. Thank you.
Elex 2 Review
Elex 2 Review
Elex 2 is so full of problems, asking consumers to pay full price is ridiculous.