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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 Elex is a downloadable open-world action role-playing game that takes place in a postapocalyptic setting. It features lots of bloody violence with lasers, swords, and other weapons, with lots of screams accompanying combat, and blood stains scattered across environments. It also packs lots of suggestive dialogue and content, like a pole dancer in a club, as well as profanity in almost every conversation you have. Some players can also be frustrated by the game controls and difficulty, regardless of its customized settings.
What's it about?
In ELEX, you play as Jax, a former military commander on a quest for vengeance in a postapocalyptic world. You join the war over the powerful, titular resource that gives people great magic-like powers but turns them into indifferent cold creatures. Many groups have emerged, deciding how to best govern and care for themselves, but you alone can help turn the tide and decide whether emotions and humaneness or cold synthetic logic will rule the world of Magalan. Stranded amongst your enemies and outcast from your people, you have the opportunity to make a clean break and a fresh start -- both for yourself and for your world.
Is it any good?
You don't have to spend much time with this game before you start to realize things are slightly off. Characters walk through other characters while in town. You'll set up camp to get in from the rain, and when you wake up, find the controls completely unresponsive, so you can't get back up again and have to load an earlier save. The sluggish controls are so clunky and awkward that running from a fight is nearly impossible -- since you can't manually target enemies, you'll wind up dashing toward exactly what you're trying to escape. This list of grievances could go on and on, but Elex is simply weighed down -- almost crushed -- by undercooked elements that likely would have been caught, addressed, and fixed with more rigorous internal testing. As such, the final product feels anything but.
What's worse, Elex simply feels generic. It owes to better games and not only doesn't surpass them, but pales in comparison. It's another open-world game with a gravelly-voice protagonist who explores bleak landscapes and happens upon other characters who unspool exposition about warring factions and politics. No matter how much you listen, though, you will feel lost playing this game until you level up considerably -- an interesting, even commendable choice, is having the entire game world open to you from the get-go. Unfortunately, this backfires, as you'll wind up impossibly lost, ill-equipped, and unsure of your choices. The reality is, this is how you would feel after the apocalypse. But other games sharing this same setting make better choices that at least give you a better chance at finding your feet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the apocalypse is such an enduring theme in both video games and other popular media. Are there things we can learn from tales of survival and revenge that are so far removed from our reality?
Have you ever been lost? If so, did you panic? How did you re-center? If not, what do you think you would do in a situation where you weren't sure where to go or what to do?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: THQ Nordic
- Release date: October 17, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.