Elliot Quest (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 01.11.2017

Review for Elliot Quest on Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch continues to take the world by storm and to be a haven for classic indie titles in the process as more and more games grace the eShop, some completely new and others coming straight from the previous generation of consoles. Elliot Quest belongs to the latter category, having seen release first on Windows in 2014 and then on the Wii U a year later, before starting to be ported over to almost every console under the sun throughout this year. Now, though, is the time to take a look at what should be, expectedly, the most interesting of them, allowing the world to play the same copy both on the bigger screen and on the go.

A side-scrolling adventure RPG at heart, Elliot Quest, very much like Zelda II before it, presents its wide world from a bird's-eye view on the outside, and from a side-scrolling perspective when entering forests, caves, dungeons and villages alike. Whereas in Zelda II such places could, and would, often be very hard to navigate for lack of a map, Elliot Quest has the good taste to at least give the player a map on the menu screen. A most basic one that initially fills itself automatically with squares until, inside dungeons at least, the player finds a map. The map screen then completes itself with greyed out squares for rooms that have not been entered yet. Beyond that, though, the map is no more detailed than the first Zelda's. Even less so as far as the dungeons are concerned because it does not indicate how each area connects with the other, surrounding ones. At the very least, however, one is not lost in a midst of maze like corridors that all resemble each other without any sense of where to go.

Again exactly like Zelda II, some of these aforementioned spots on the world map that can be entered will not appear plainly but will only reveal themselves upon approaching them. Where in Zelda II Link would enter them when he found them, Elliot spots them first, indicated by an exclamation point on the top of his head, and these are entered at a press of a button, which is more convenient, and one such example where Elliot improves on some of the 8-bit inconveniences of its main source of inspiration. Such invisible spots are, however, far more plentiful in this instance, and regrettably easy to miss as a result. Most of them will not hold anything compulsory to complete the game but for the completionists out there, this is inconvenient, forcing players to resort to taking down notes of such places or making their own maps in case these places hold treasures that cannot be reached at the present time but have to be found again and revisited later on with another ability unlocked, cause these, even when visited once already, will remain desperately invisible all throughout.

Screenshot for Elliot Quest on Nintendo Switch

This can be a curse or a blessing in this case, because Elliot Quest offers on one hand an experience faithful to the 8-bit era right down to how it is played and approached, not taking the player by the end but requiring skills and wits to be completed... but on the other hand videogames have evolved from that point for a reason. Such limitations existed in those days mostly from the limitations of the hardware itself, or from no precedent having been set for more convenient solutions. Lacking the latter in this day and age may well alienate a good portion of the target audience, unfortunately. It will be hard to approach, then, and its appeal probably harder to spot for those who did not grow up with only games such as these to play... while some players who miss these rather more DIY times of gaming will be delighted to finally get to play a game that lets them explore freely from the start and not hold their hand throughout once more.

The story does not get in the way of the player at all, rather taking a back seat and being told through occasional flashbacks, with the hero muttering to himself while passing certain trigger points within the dungeons and other side-scrolling places. Elliot is under a curse from the Satar and sets out to find a cure for himself, but along the way he may well start to want to destroy the Satar himself. The most peculiar aspect of Elliot Quest and probably one of its most original is that some of the hero's actions are analysed throughout and reflected through an "alignment": good, neutral or evil. Such things as stealing from people's houses, that is to say for example stealing a person's savings by opening their treasure chest or searching inside their grandfather clock for coins, will determine whether the hero is good, trying to not just save himself but the world along with it, caring for others, or evil, doing anything for his own personal gain, even at other people's cost. The alignments of the hero by the end of the game will determine one of three different endings possible and, all in all and no matter what ending is obtained, the story itself is a rather dark and grim one, which some would think is thoroughly original for a game of that genre.

Screenshot for Elliot Quest on Nintendo Switch

Sadly, however, because of the way it is told, it is hard to make sense of... or even to pay attention to. It is, therefore, very easy to simply play like the story is almost completely non-existent, like in Zelda II, instead of like a more developed title such as this and that is regrettable. Elliot then just mostly runs around collecting things to reach the ending, through four dungeons and other interconnecting areas and then through the final one to reach the ending, with the story not playing a major role.

It is a decidedly well polished game, otherwise. It may take heavy inspiration from Adventure of Link, but it has mostly none of its clunkiness in terms of controls. Elliot is not stiff at all, but hops around, runs, shoots arrows and bounces off enemies gracefully and never does that get in the player's way. Therefore, while it has a very pronounced 8-bit flavour, it does not feel like one, controller in hand, or at least not like the early ones did, but more like a lost 8-bit game that would have been released way into the 16-bit era, still limited by the hardware but borne of a time when developers had finally grasped and mastered what good controls should feel like. That is not to say that everything is easy, though - far from it. Elliot will gain heart containers over the course of the adventure either from bosses or from collecting pieces of "half" a heart, which when put together adds another heart container to the life meter. Magic jars will also increase the maximum amount of magic that the protagonist can carry at any time to use its secondary abilities and have to be found throughout the vast game world. These will be essential, the hearts more so than anything else, because enemies tend to take away a good chunk of Elliot's life and falling into a pit can be pretty punishing when sent back to one of the numerous save points, but which can sometimes be set very far apart from one another.

Screenshot for Elliot Quest on Nintendo Switch

Killing enemies gives experience points that fill a gauge that, when full, grants Elliot an additional skill point to be distributed freely into one of five categories that are as follows. Strength mostly affects the shooting range of arrows while wisdom pertains to the use of magic... while agility is linked to character movement and more specifically shooting speed, whereas vitality influences the amount of hearts recovered and damage received and, last but not least, accuracy helps Elliot pull of different types of shot, as well as more critical hits. Sadly, however, skill points once attributed cannot be redistributed, so priorities should depend on a person's approach, or to help overcome some of the weaknesses, such as not being able to avoid taking hits calling for more vitality or one likely to take out enemies quicker so as to remain out of harm's way as much as possible, calling for more agility.

It's a more versatile approach than Zelda's and while the impossibility to redistribute skill points can be unnerving, it also forces players to think more before they act and think of the consequences of their choices, which is not an entirely indefensible stance. Elliot Quest is certainly not a botched game by any means, or one that hasn't had much thought put behind it, but it still lacks a bit of balance at times and a sense of direction and story-telling that the community has come to be accustomed to in modern day gaming, holding it back somewhat. It's still a very well put together piece of software, though. A few bugs and glitches were encountered while playing the review build, although they were more like oversights than anything else, such as the wrong map being displayed on the first screen of every dungeon (the game still displays the map for the previous area traversed) or the music not changing upon falling down a pit or dying when sent back to last save point that belongs to an entirely different area, but these do not hamper gameplay as they fix themselves pretty quickly so should not affect anyone's enjoyment.

Screenshot for Elliot Quest on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Elliot Quest takes heavy inspiration from the first three Zelda games in general and from Zelda II: Adventure of Link in particular, while improving on some of the more tedious aspects of it. However, it does not quite go all the way to leaving behind or improving the elements that haven't aged well at all in Nintendo's classic, making for an experience that at times can be a bit more confusing than it really needs to be. The narrative, in its execution and presentation, passes almost completely into the background like it was totally absent, which further cements the identity of Elliot Quest: a game that is deeply seated in the era that inspired its creation. There will, therefore, be two categories of players: those who find it hard to enjoy for lack of some of the more modern comforts that gaming has brought along over the years, and those that love it all the more for it because they appreciate being given free reign instead of being held by the hand all along. What remains after taking these things into account is still a thoroughly, if complicated, more Metroidvania-oriented side-scrolling adventure RPG that should definitely appeal to fans of 8-bit flavoured games of that genre.

Developer

Ansimuz

Publisher

PlayEveryWare Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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