Retro side-scrolling action game has lots of blood and gore.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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What’s It About?
ELDERAND doesn't waste time with excessive story, offering just a few quick words about a malicious darkness taking over the world before dropping players into the boots of a mercenary who beats back the evil one demon at a time with medieval weapons. Presented in a retro style with pixelated graphics meant to recall classic Metroid and Castlevania games of decades past, players explore a two-dimensional side-scrolling environment filled with traps, monsters, and branching paths. Players must investigate every nook and cranny for weapons and gear, and then put their newfound tools and abilities to use, clearing obstacles and opening new areas to explore. Dozens of enemy types and bosses force players to experiment and practice with shields, swords, bows, thrown weapons, and more as players gradually create strategies to take down specific kinds of foes.
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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Elderand affected by the pixelated visuals? Does the blood and gore have the same psychological impact as similar content in games with more realistic graphics?
Why is it important for games to include customization options for the appearance of playable characters? What effect does this have on people who play?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Windows
- Pricing structure: Paid ($19.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Graffiti Games
- Release date: February 16, 2023
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Violence, Partial Nudity
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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Side-scroller with mild blood revels in old-school action.
For kids who love action
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