I finished Elliot Quest last night and my thoughts are pretty mixed.
The game looks beautiful with a lot of inspired enemy designs. Collecting crystals and heart pieces and magic jars is rewarding. The map is pretty big with a ton of areas to explore, with a lot of them being optional. It feels so cool to explore a corner of the map and be rewarded with an area to explore that genuinely feels hidden and secluded. Dungeons are a particular highlight, looping around in clever ways and putting items to good use.
But the sidescrolling gameplay at the core of that gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of the time it's mediocre. Enemies are monotonously designed from a gameplay perspective, often requiring that the player waits for the enemy to make itself vulnerable to damage. Couple this with the fact that most enemies take a ton of hits to kill- even with the best weapon in the game- and backtracking through areas quickly becomes monotonous. If enemies don't take too many hits to kill, you have to spend time waiting for them to become vulnerable. Sometimes it's both. Not only does this make backtracking or fighting large numbers of the same enemy monotonous, but it sucks away any satisfaction the combat may provide. It's not uncommon to reach a distant part of the map or deepest depths of a cave, only to be hit with a brick wall of "Oh, I need an item/crystal I don't have before I can move on/ get this heart piece." This wouldn't be annoying if the player could easily get to and from areas, but in many cases the player must then backtrack through the level they just completed to get back to the map and then potentially through another level to get the the part of the map with the item you need to get past the wall you hit. This kind of thing isn't a problem in Zelda because crossing the map is almost always a quick and easy process. Backtracking through a single level in Elliot Quest is comparable to having to backtrack through a dungeon in Zelda. Losing experience when you die can also be very annoying when the game decides to throw instant death platforming segments at you.
And then there's the problems with the port itself. I frequently encountered stutters in the framerate, which did cause me to mistime a few jumps and die. The description of one item still references a shift key. I also encountered strange lines that flickered in and out as a moved. I don't think it's screen tearing, because they only appeared on the background and not on Elliot himself. I got Stuck in a room and had to revert to my last save in order to continue playing, My game froze here, a puzzle involving to characters at once was made much more difficult by those characters becoming desynched when approaching a jump, others reported issues related to sequence breaking upon entering one area early in the game and exiting back to the map, and this happens whenever you try to leave one of the graves. That last one is particularly concerning, as that glitch occurs whenever you leave that room. All they had to do to find that glitch was literally walk into the room and then walk out. The fact that something like that remained in the final release makes me wonder if they even tested the entirety of the port before putting it out. I understand that AAA companies are trying to get us to accept the fact that some games have issues at launch. I also understand that it's hard for smaller independent companies without dedicated QA teams to iron out all of the flaws. But all that is needed to find this glitch is to play the game normally. It is unacceptable to release your game when it is currently impossible to experience all of the content within that game. It is currently impossible to 100% Elliot Quest. And as a consumer, it isn't my problem whether or not PEW or Ansimuz can afford a QA department. If I buy a product, it is not unreasonable to expect that product to work as advertised. Caveat emptor, some people may say. To which I respond that I did check multiple reviews of the Wii U version, none of which mentioned any sort of glitches or porting errors. I have a level of tolerance for this stuff, but there comes a point where I have to draw a line for what I'll accept from a game. Graphical issues and the occasional framerate issues have unfortunately become the new level of acceptable in this industry. Okay, whatever. That stuff draws me out of the experience and reminds me that I'm pressing buttons to make stuff move on a screen, but I can live with it. But having a glitch that prevents players from completing your game is not acceptable. If you can't be bothered to play your game before releasing it, why should anyone be bothered to play it?
This might have come off as kind of negative, but I didn't hate Elliot Quest. I enjoyed parts of it and the peripheral exploration and design surrounding the core gameplay is very well done. It's just a shame that all of those interesting things are built around core gameplay that is oftentimes slow, dull, and plagued by bugs.
I think some of the problems mentioned above have been fixed plus I don't find enemies that hard to kill. Once you upgrade your abilities to get a charge attack, most will fall very quickly. Plus you get an extra power up later that's one hit kill to many... or you can just ignore them entirely with another spell that renders you invulnerable to attacks.
That said, the backtracking issues are still there and can be annoying at times. The framerate unfortunately still stutters and I have no idea why. Some times it's fine... but it's not because there's too many stuff on screen that it causes it to stutter. Still, I'm greatly enjoying this game. I want to say I'm near the end but at the same time, it feels like there's a lot that I haven't explored. Though with what seems like multiple endings, I'm probably lining myself up for a bad one It's a great Metroidvania game with many inspirations from Zelda II though and I'm having a ton of fun with it. If you have the funds, I suggest checking it out.
I ran into this game on Miiverse today and decided to check in and see if people were still having issues with glitches. It turns out that at least half of the miiverse posts for this game are screenshots of glitches. Here are a few of them:
I really wish Nintendo had some sort of refund or consumer review options to warn people about stuff like this. Sure, there's the star ratings, but that doesn't tell potential customers that the game is full of glitches. More than anything, I'm just disappointed that this game hasn't been fixed. I feel bad for any kids that buy this game and have their experience ruined by stuff like this.