Elderand is a Metroidvania action platformer developed by Mantra and Sinergia Games. You play as a mercenary who takes a contract to eradicate an evil legacy in a land beyond the reaches of reason. The story delves into the dealings of a dark cult, and while it’s fairly easy to follow, it never becomes particularly gripping. The sprites for characters and enemies stand out and have clean animations. The backgrounds can be especially stunning, with everything from forests to shrines having depth and atmosphere.
You start with a basic move set: with an attack, jump, dodge, and either block, evade, or fire magic depending on what weapon you equip. In Metroidvania fashion, you unlock moves like double jump, air dash, and a grappling hook, giving you access to previously unreachable areas and secrets when backtracking. Movement feels smooth and responsive, making difficult platforming, such as air dashing between spikes, satisfying.
Combat is responsive and enjoyable but doesn’t do anything unique. You can switch between two load-outs with different weapons, armor, and accessories with a single button, allowing you to change play styles instantly. Weapon types like swords, whips, bows, staffs, and twin daggers all feel distinct with different amounts of reach and speed. However, I never found more than two weapons at one time that were worth using. Despite experimenting with different builds, at any time, one weapon was always clearly better than all the others, and it felt punishing to use anything else. You can purchase weapons from merchants, but none were as good as the weapons I found on enemies. Thankfully, you eventually unlock the ability to redistribute all of your attribute points, allowing you to respec at no cost so you can try new weapons or items.
Combat does have a few flaws. Hit boxes feel a bit too forgiving, allowing you to hit things that seemed out of range but also allowing you to get hit when you thought you were safe. Enemies glow and the screen shakes after you get hit, so getting the visual indicators for when to block or dodge an attack can seem impossible to consistently execute. Sub-weapons, like an axe with an arching attack or a bomb that leaves fire on the ground, are mostly useless since they’re incredibly weak and you can only hold a small amount of each. You can knock some enemies off-screen, making it so you can’t hit them but they can still hit you. A few times enemies were literally unavoidable, teleporting to my location and damaging me on impact. There’s also a lack of clarity about what attacks you can block or evade, leaving it up to you to experiment and remember.
Elderand doesn’t do much to set itself apart. While combat, your powers, and movement fail to bring anything new, they’re all well done enough to make each satisfying in their own way and work well together, making sure every part of the game offers something worthy of your time. The mostly tight gameplay and controls made it enjoyable throughout my ten-and-a-half-hour playthrough. If a solid Metroidvania is what you’re in the mood for, Elderand should deliver. Elderand is available now on PC.
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