A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Simple fantasy tale of good versus objective evil that sensationalizes and glorifies bloody combat. Players who show tenacity in the face of difficult obstacles, and curiosity to explore the entire map, are rewarded with progress and items.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a mercenary fighting a demonic evil. They have little in the way of discernible personality traits, save for obvious courage and a willingness to take on the powers of darkness.
The main character can be customized via a handful of skin tones and hair colors. The simple graphics often make it difficult to discern the race and gender of cultists the hero encounters.
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Ease of Play
Controls are straightforward, similar to those of many 2D side-scrollers, but this is a very challenging game that forces players to study enemy patterns, practice attack and defensive move timing, and bear through plenty of quick deaths. No option to turn down the difficulty.
Violence & Scariness
Players use swords, axes, and bows and arrows to shoot, hack at, and occasionally dismember enemies, including animals and demonic monsters. Blood gushes from attacks, and players see bones and viscera protruding from defeated enemies. It's presented in retro, two-dimensional, heavily pixelated graphics, but the gore is clearly evident.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some enemies and cultists appear to be partially nude, but are viewed from the side with no details shown.
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Occasional mild profanity appears in text dialogue, including words such as "damn" and "hell."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Elderand is a downloadable side-scrolling fantasy action game for Windows PCs, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Cast in the role of a mercenary (whose appearance can be lightly customized) battling a demonic evil invading the world, players use swords, axes, and bows and arrows to fight monsters and animals. Many attacks result in splashes of blood, with enemies sometimes losing limbs or heads that roll around on the ground. It's presented in a retro pixelated style that limits the details players can see, but blood, bones, and entrails are still clearly evident. Players will also encounter a small amount of mild profanity in text notes, and may notice that some characters viewed from the side appear partially nude, though without any details. Parents should also be aware that this is a brutally difficult game. Players who show perseverance and curiosity will eventually be rewarded, but many others are bound to be frustrated by the game's high level of challenge.
Is It Any Good?
This one is not for the faint of heart. Not only is Elderand surprisingly bloody for a 2D action game, it's also extraordinarily challenging. Nearly any enemy in the game can make quick work of your little adventurer if you fail to approach the encounter with caution. Each enemy has a set of patterns for movement and attack that players will need to work out and quickly recognize in order to reliably defeat them over and over. Fail, and it can be game over in seconds. The good news is that the controls are intuitive, tight, and responsive -- though that also means players don't have much to blame other than their own inadequate skill when they die. Thankfully, save points are fairly frequent, so you never really feel like you're losing much progress.
What could prove even more frustrating for some is the amount of backtracking players are forced to do -- a common feature of so-called "Metroidvania" games. While exploring the labyrinthian world, you'll frequently encounter dead ends and obstacles you can't yet bypass, forcing you to retreat for now and eventually find your way back when you have the ability needed to progress. Along the way, you'll find yourself frequently fighting respawned enemies which, as already discussed, are rarely easy to defeat. Elderand is a good game for its kind, but its difficulty and creaky design may turn off players who didn't grow up playing the sorts of adventures from which it took inspiration.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.