Legends of Ellaria is a new RPG, Adventure and RTS game developed by Larkon Studio. After a rather successful Kickstarter campaign, bringing in around $36,785 and surpassing 2 of their goals they set right into making a very early access build available to backers and Steam. Boasting a product with over 3 years of work already placed within, Ellaria sounded huge, inspiring and above all else ambitious due to its combination of different genres and scope of the final product.
The game itself begins with a rocky start, with your character who is currently king of a castle, being attacked by a rival faction. Your only hope is to escape, rushing to the top of your castle towards a portal to a new realm. One of your agents gives you some information of this new land of Ellaria you will be teleported to, a land full of resources yet guarded by Goblins, Golems and other invading factions to fight you off.
With all the dangers laid before you, you decide to jump in. After a short load, you will drop in front of a city hall, inside is another adviser with… well, advice. You are to start building a new kingdom, from simple housing to full-on barracks. With each main building, you unlock new tasks and quests, from clearing out resource areas to kicking out goblin invested villagers. There isn’t too much at hand right now with the early version, only really containing the first chapter.
Gameplay in Ellaria is rather straightforward, the main part of the game is its third-person adventuring. You control a king with the ability to wield swords in various forms, shoot bows, block with shields and cast magic… simple king stuff. To compare it to another game, think of Elder Scrolls in third-person, or even Diablo. Combat is very, very, simple, you have 1 combo or strong attack whilst holding down shift and left click, or blocking. You have a health and mana pool, in a design akin to Diablo on the bottom of the screen.
As you fight you will gain points in several areas, similar to TES: Oblivion Use more spells during combat and your intelligence, magic and the like will improve. While the main ability scores like strength and constitution seem to improve your damage and health values, without a proper look the skills seem to do nothing besides go higher in number, alongside their tooltip info saying “Coming soon”.
On the other hand of gameplay, you have your RTS and city building side, pressing T on the keyboard will cause you to zoom out to a bird’s eye view of the immediate area. This new view comes with your current resources, including your gold and materials, alongside several options to build both housing and facilities. With each new building, you will increase the income you receive every hour or day in-game. Specific buildings like the barracks will also contain new advisers with guidance or new quests for you.
There are plans for plenty of new additions to the gameplay, from siege battles to a more in-depth RPG levelling system. Thankfully the developer seems somewhat transparent with their plans as they do show off “roadmaps” and planned updates to the game, though somewhat vague at times. Like many early access games, Ellaria has a long road ahead of it, with hopefully plenty of improvements to be made.
The soundtrack is very lacklustre right now, with music hardly ever playing or being way too simplistic to really have any impact on the events or areas you travel within. The same goes for plenty of the sound effects feeling pretty bare-bones. I can say the same for their graphics right now, as plenty of their maps are repeated as well as having play-dough character models. However, magical effects do look amazing, especially with their fire and explosions.
One of the major problems I faced with Ellaria is its unrealistic need for computer resources. It looks worse than a lot of other Indie games out right now in early access but requires such a high-quality system to run. Even after reading the specifications necessary to play I wasn’t expecting, when I turned the game on, that it would require 8gb of RAM to start off, let alone peaking around 12gb of RAM. My PC meets the recommended rig stated on their page, but still had a lot of trouble keeping up with it. Ellaria needs a lot of optimisation, as what it demands is not worth what it delivers.
A glaring issue I found was with their dungeon design, with caves having around 5 rooms and corridors that it repeats over and over again with little to no change. The same can be said for the cathedral dungeon that had a similar amount of room types but also included a weird bug that almost all doors had sconces on them, breaking immersion and just looking very silly.
With all of its issues, Ellaria has some good roots to grow from. Combat is fun yet very simple, alongside glitchy spawns of bandits. Growing your kingdom takes time, yet does feel satisfying as more and more villagers move into your city. Like many people have stated, Ellaria looks like it will be a great game, with some heavy anticipation for incoming updates.
Sadly, I cannot suggest getting the game as it currently stands. While some aspects of Ellaria are fun, it requires too much for too little. The available chapter feels short, you cannot build much in the way of buildings for your city, the music feels too empty and general exploration feels boring. Like many others who have previewed this, or written comments on their page, I like the concept and the idea of Ellaria, but I do not like what is currently on offer.