Element Space (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 27.03.2020

Review for Element Space on PlayStation 4

Element Space is a sci-fi space opera, revolving around a captain in a military that is no longer needed. The empire is now in peace after a vicious conflict, but not all is as it seems, as a new terrorist plot rears its head. Taking obvious cues from both XCOM and Mass Effect, players navigate a small squad through a series of battles and choices. With most of the game taking place in the battlefield, there are some cool ideas plagued by some things that were never hammered out before release.

Sometimes when sitting down to look at new games it often crosses this reviewer's mind if developers simply do not ever learn from what are simple mistakes others have made in the past. Element Space is one such example that has tremendous potential in its structure, but is rife with issues that stop it from being recommendable. Take the ridiculously small text. Both for conversations and for equipment, on a normal sized TV the character's picture is about 2cm tall, and there's endless blank space across the bottom that the minute text could have filled instead. There is just no reason to have something this basic a flaw.

To best describe this, take a mixture of galaxy-spanning politics, and imagine being the hero from Mass Effect - and add an outright clone of recent XCOM grid-based battles. Guiding a small squad of characters between a series of battles, players make some simple dialogue choices as they bounce from conflict to conflict. Between these missions one can upgrade a small selection of skills before heading out once again. As a turn-based affair, each unit of your squad of three has two action points, a main and a second action. The main is used mostly for attacking, moving or skills, while the second action is used for running or some moves. One very odd tactical fact in here is that accuracy is 100% if there is a straight shot, 50% in cover, and 0% if in full cover. It makes combat much more movement-orientated of running around into position to get 100% shots, and compared to XCOM, this was an improvement.

Each character has a few skills, and this is where the game starts to become unhinged. The UI for these skills is often horrendous, added by a camera that is constantly in the way. As an example, skills look to be in range but are not - skills in range for some reason can't be used. Some additional examples is how the main guy gets a grappling hook that he can use, but it can be used so rarely due to the game allowing a selection it might as well not be there. A girl who uses melee moves was also notorious for her moves "not being in range" or complete randomness if the move is usable. It is frustrating because as a strategy/tactics title this element of unknown is not supposed to be part of the experience at all.

Screenshot for Element Space on PlayStation 4

The characters are clearly meant to combo with each other, but this constant... "unknown" factor of skills becomes a major negative. One character might pull an enemy out of cover, so the melee girl can use a dash move on the foe, only to find out for whatever reason the attack is not possible after already committing to half of it. This reviewer's playthrough came to an abrupt end when using a melee dash, as the girl was glitched with a sliding movement that send her across the map and into a corner where she could not move out of, and no one was selectable any longer.

Between battles there are small conversations where the player picks an option to say. These options give small preference points to a type of personality test about the characters preference from authoritarianism or humanism, freedom, etc. These have some effect later on choices that are open to the player. It is a cool idea, but it did not feel fleshed out that well. Additionally, each character has a very simple skill tree that primarily focuses on upgrading their innate moves, like the punching, grapple hook or buff for the main guy. There is room for a huge level of expansion here. As it is now, it is simply boring. It would be much cooler if there were choices or different true builds to go with, rather than just upgrading the starting moves.

All of this may sound harsh, and perhaps it is, as this game is not ready for release. If this was an alpha or beta version this would actually be an interesting title to watch out for, as it has some cool ideas. This lack of polish for a released game is simply unacceptable. Fighting glitches, bugs, cameras, non-working moves, all of it is something that should have got hammered out a long time ago. This has good potential, but that is something that should be said about a game still in development, not released. As a quick caveat the game is presented as fully developed, but there is a version number on the main screen stating it is version 0.7, so maybe some of these problems might be fixed - but still the question remains if it's not ready, why was it released?

Screenshot for Element Space on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

There are some really cool ideas here, and potentially a really good game hidden under a mess that seems like it needed several more months of playtesting and hammering things out. There are just too many things like a lack of polish, a mess of a UI, the camera is hard to control, and bugs/glitches make the experience frustrating. It is sad because, while there are some cool things in here, it simply is not ready for release at this point. It needed way more time actually making sure the core experience is enjoyable, rather than fighting through nearly everything except for enemies.

Developer

Sixth Vowel

Publisher

Inca Games

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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