As the sci-fi adventure game Elea’s first episode goes into early access on 4/24 I had the opportunity to play through it and see first hand what this game will be like. Although everything unfolds non-linearly and it can be a bit confusing at first, things start to fall into place more as more information is learned. I want to stay away from spoiling too much of what happens though because the story really is the best part of this game so far. Suffice it to say there was some sort of virus on Earth which had a devastating effect on the children of the world. As a result of this space exploration and settlement of new worlds has become a top priority.
The main character is Elea who is a space scientist and intergalactic traveller. Although there are significant portions where I was taken back in time and obtained some real background on who she is and what her story is, the present is focused on her mission to find her husband who disappeared exploring a planet 13 years ago. Although the story is very focused and well executed there is also a lot of room to explore and wander as one would in any adventure game.
There’s also some sections of the game which take place entirely in Elea’s memories, which seem to be a bit unstable. One of the first things explained is Elea has elected to undergo a medical procedure which will make it more difficult to recall memories, even just the day to day type of memories. While it is explained this procedure doesn’t remove any memories I was left to wonder why anyone would want to do something like this. This procedure seems to have taken hold and some of her memories get quite trippy. There were a few points where I had no idea at all what was going on, which was the point.
Unfortunately, the Early Access comes into play in all the gameplay aspects. One of the most frustrating bugs currently is interactable objects sometimes either have their flag for being interactable way off from the actual object or have a tiny area which will trigger the flag. This was extremely frustrating when I was wandering around looking for something specific and I just couldn’t find it. It often turned out I had found the object right in the beginning but didn’t know it because the flag didn’t pop-up. This was particularly bad in the memory sections of this episode.
Another frustrating aspect of the episode in its current state is all the readable text from objects say the same information about the health crisis which had hit Earth. Now clearly this is placeholder text and most of the time it isn’t a big deal. However, there were a few times where I needed to find a specific datapad or bit of information from a thing but there was no way to know I found it because the text on would just have the default info. The worst was when I was looking for a datapad to obtain a code. I spent forever looking for the datapad even though I was pretty sure it had to be one I picked up right away. However, there was no text telling me what the code was, so I didn’t know I had found it. I ended up getting lucky and accidentally hitting a key which popped up the text for my current mission and that contained the key.
These two things might seem like small things to pick at but in a game where exploration and figuring things out on your own is prized, not having consistent and clear feedback on the things I was trying was extremely frustrating. If these things don’t sound like they would deter you go ahead and check it out during Early Access because it is worth experiencing. However, for most people I’d suggest waiting until the full release of Episode 1 this Summer.