Write Piranha Bytes and immediately comes to mind the saga that has consecrated them, that of Gothic. The first two chapters were a success, considered by the press of the time the “real” version of Ultima IX.
The third one also talked about himself, but for one of the most controversial case histories of the videogame industry. It is the star of Gothic that with its light continues to illuminate the stage of the German software house, forcing it to a life in the spotlight.
A limelight that does not make Bjorn Pankratz and his historical collaborators work in serenity: it is undeniable that for every new production of Piranha Bytes the bar of expectations is always very (too) high, in the hope that it will repeat the glories of his first work.
He had tried in vain with the Risen trilogy, welcomed with affection only by the hard base of the base, and tries again with ELEX, new intellectual property presented to the specialized press in 2015. The release was initially scheduled for the autumn of last year, but the works have come to completion only a few days ago: it’s time to write our impressions.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The beginning of the script has always been an Achilles heel of the team stationed in Essen and ELEX is no exception: a comet hits the very advanced planet Magalan, bringing with it, in addition to the destruction of civilization, even the powerful material (Tiberium ?) from which the title of the game.
The populations are divided into four clans who fight for supremacy: Berserkers reject any type of technology to follow a lifestyle close to nature that govern its magical properties; Clerics forbid the assumption of Elex in pure form but exploit its properties for the creation of powerful weapons; Finally, the Outlaws are anarchoids that do not preclude any possibility of substance from space.
The Alba faction is the most powerful, as it includes a small group of elect who can consume Elex without being overwhelmed by its devastating side effects: the only consequence is the loss of emotions that makes them similar to robots. These super men are about to plan the final attack for the control of Magalan, when the raider piloted by the commander Jax is mysteriously shot down.
TRAILER THAT PASSES YOU
If you too, watching the trailers that Piranha Bytes has released in the stages of approaching the exit, you started to have more than a few doubts about the goodness of the project, you are justified: the emphasis (inevitably, considering the few minutes of video) was placed on fights and settings, two of the least successful aspects of ELEX.
The biggest break point with past productions concerns the setting: a mixture of fantasy, contemporary and post-apocalyptic elements that live on a few highs and too many lows. Despite having avoided the risk, rightly emphasized in the preview stage,
to fall into the most tamarro kitsch, the work absolutely did not convince us. Paradoxically, the feeling is that the designers had the fear of too much limiting the hand, with the result that the four regions (as many as the guilds), are devoid of truly characterizing elements.
The Edan, hunting ground of the Berserkers, is a typical fantasy ecosystem where instead of the classic huts (however present) there are abandoned industrial complexes, hydroelectric plants, some remnants of asphalt: but there is nothing that tells more in depth the life before the disaster.
The Clerics live in Ignadon, inside the crater created by the impact of the comet, in a context in which you can recognize stylistic elements belonging to the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
The most successful area is that of the Outlaws that refers to the post-atomic visions of Mad Max and the nourished host that was inspired (Wasteland, Fallout), where however stride even more the presence of characters in sword and shield. In summary there is a considerable variety of situations, but there is
no illumination of a harmonic view that would have surely benefited the entire production. The map of the game, although not coming to the exaggeration of certain sandbox titles, is really great (about a half and a half of the Gothic 3 according to the estimates of the programmers) and the only way to explore it is with your own legs.