Two words that spring to mind when playing Elea are “Psychological thriller”. While this may be a term that has been used to describe a variety of games over the years, not many have managed to pull it off quite well. We were given the opportunity to play through early access Sci-fi title Elea – Episode 1 but does it deserve your time?
Elea – Episode 1 is from the creative minds over at Kyodai Ltd and SOEDESCO Publishing. Players take on the role of River Elea Catherine Jones, a scientist on a search and rescue mission set in the far future. In the first chapter, players are introduced to Elea herself, a scientist and mother-to-be. The intro segment to the game is quite gripping and pushes you to learn more about the protagonist and her family.
As Elea, players will be gently guided along a linear story path that may or may not result in you having an epileptic seizure along the way. While we wish that was a joke, Episode 1 features some intense flashing lights and psychedelic visual sequences that border on the disturbing side. Players are warned about this when booting up the game but one wouldn’t expect it to be as intense as it is.
Graphically, Episode 1 is filled with eye candy. The game is built with Unreal Engine 4 and is no slouch when it comes to graphical fidelity. The developers of Elea have created a believable sci-fi world that looks great and maintains a unique aesthetic throughout.
Gameplay on the other hand is incredibly hit and miss right now. Interacting with objects can be difficult since Elea tends to move at a snail’s pace (presumably due to being pregnant) and can get stuck moving between objects. In the opening sequence this can be frustrating but it does get better as you progress throughout Episode 1. For example, you’ll have to complete specific objectives such as restoring power to your living quarters and escaping an augmented reality device. It’s simple but it works as a plot device.
Since the game is currently in Early Access on Steam, the developers are constantly updating the title. We played through version 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6 for the purposes of this preview. Version 0.5 made a range of welcome changes such as addressing Elea’s movement speed while version 0.6 added a hint mechanic that previously was not available. The quality of life changes, while rather simple, have made it a lot easier than before. This is great because Elea is a game we want to see succeed. The constant updates have decreased the amount of frustration experienced in trying to progress further in the storyline and we can’t wait to play the final product.
Elea – Episode 1 is available on Steam right now at a bargain price of US$4.99 and if the developers keep on improving the game, the final product will definitely be worth picking up and completing if you’re a fan of sci-fi story driven games.