Everything seems to be thrown into this epic open-world adventure hoping it would gel into something greater than the sum of its parts, but it's not to be. Elex II is a clutter of partially formed ideas and mechanics. It attempts to include all the things players love about open-world RPGs (role-playing games) -- exploration, player agency, apocalyptic drama, item collection and crafting, vertical traversal, skill and ability growth, and more -- but doesn't take the time to adequately polish any of its constituent parts. The button-mashing combat is flat and unexciting, dialogue is often poorly written and awkwardly cut together, there's little sense of linear story progression, and, depending on where you explore and who you meet, it can take too long to learn even some of the most basic skills, like lock-picking or handling firearms. Quests are a mixed up jumble, often overlapping each other and pushing you to explore in different directions, and once you arrive at your destination, you might suddenly realize you aren't yet powerful enough to take on whatever challenge you're presented. There's plenty of freedom, but it's fumbled and frustrating.
There are occasional glimmers of a good game lurking beneath the surface. Your jetpack -- which can be modified in a variety of ways, allowing for longer, higher, more controlled flight -- is a fun and liberating way to get around once it's been properly upgraded. And the world is surprisingly beautiful in spots, with majestic trees that gently sway in the breeze and the mysterious ruins of old geodesic dome habitats dotting the landscape. Unfortunately, the ugly character models and awkward enemy animations tend to break whatever visual spell the world designers have tried to weave. Elex II was made with grand aspirations to be an epic sci-fi RPG, but it probably would have been a lot more fun if it axed some of its half-baked features and focused on perfecting those that remained.