From the developers and publishers of various indie games, Mantra Games, Sinergia Games and Graffiti Games presented a lovely tribute to the Metroidvania genre with Elderand. The side-scrolling adventure was a nice, narrow-focused game of exploration and action. I thought the balance struck a great chord with the various maps and enemy types. The expansive enemy types had a solid range: ninjas, zombies, fish monsters, dark wizards and more.
While there was no clear narrative to the game, it did have sprinkles of notes that provided hints of what may have happened to the travellers and adventurers that have passed through before the main character. This made the Lovecraftian-meets-fantasy world game a less committal game. A lot of other side-scrollers like the Metroid games, the Ori games or Hollow Knight prided themselves on an immersive side-scrolling experience. Sometimes I like just to grind and kill enemies to buy some cool gear, which this game delivered.
The saves in Elderand worked similarly to the Souls games and Elden Ring, where bonfires were scattered throughout the world of Elderand—allowing me to light them and save my game. These locations were also where I could fast-travel to other bonfires. The game did not have an autosave system, so manual saving was crucial—I facepalmed many-a-times.
Many of the bosses were quite gross and annoying before I figured out their move sets and/or spells. It definitely kept me on my toes the same way I would be trying to bob and weave bosses in games like Skyrim and Elden Ring. Like these other games, the RPG elements were really nice. The skills and stats systems were basic enough with increasing four areas: Health, Attack, Magic and Vision (Critical Hit Rate). In terms of the levelling system, I felt it was a nice progression that did not feel like I had to grind too hard, but the combat got trickier with each new map revealed.
While the map was fairly simple and easy to use, I found that some things should have been checked off. The Points of Interest were areas that could be something like a blocked doorway or a treasure chest. Once I opened a chest or was able to unlock the new pathway with the locked door, it still stayed on my map—which seemed like something odd for a game that showed percentage clearance of mapping the entire game. Not a total blunder for the overall experience, just an annoying one when I was backtracking.
“…I found myself intrigued by the world of Elderand and its various maps.”
I thought the standout feature of the game was the arsenal of weapons the game provided from chests and vendors. The various killing devices included things like whips, swords, daggers, axes, bows, and staffs—offering players a classic amount of choice like in any other RPG game. Special weapons had some interesting names, which also held some kind of special properties along with them.
Even with the nitpick with some of the simple things, I found myself intrigued by the world of Elderand and its various maps. I enjoyed the wide range of maps and sceneries, as well as the use of the environment artwork in the backgrounds and foregrounds. It added a sort of 3D effect to it. The decapitations and limbs being cut off were satisfying, as any Dead Space fans would probably agree—just more pixelated.
The replayability was great to see whether I wanted to go with a heavier strength build, ranged weapon build or magic build. This was an awesome retro, action-RPG side-scroller that would hook anyone into any of the mentioned games—or looking into starting something new from indie developers.