Thursday, January 17

Review: Elli [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One of the great things about the size of the Switch library is that it offers a better guarantee there’s something out there for everyone. While there are a lot of more hardcore gamers out there (and plenty of games that will suit them), people in search of something a bit lighter and enjoyable continue to see a steady stream of content as well. Elli very much falls into that category, never getting too terribly difficult with a blend of platforming and puzzle-solving that’s generally satisfying and just challenging enough without ever pushing too hard.

There’s a sort of story where some crystals have been stolen and you’ll need to retrieve them but the focus is really just on coming into areas and figuring out what you need to do. Early on the focus tends to just be on doing some 3D platforming, which can get mildly challenging with small platforms that will disappear, but more often than not those are for getting some extra in-game currency for unlocking some cosmetic gear. Once it gets to full steam it typically all becomes about puzzles and figuring out what sequence of events you’ll need to trigger to progress.

The most typical puzzles will tend to be of the variety where you’ll need to pick up a box and place it on a pedestal. Usually in order to get this box you’ll need to find a wizard who’ll then summon one for you to use. There are also timed sections where you’ll trigger an orb and then need to rush to a door that will only stay open for a brief period of time. These tend to be a bit more hectic and in some cases you’ll need to complete some other puzzle to give you an optimum route so if one of these sequences seems impossible it very well may be without setting the stage properly. The most complex (and initially difficult to understand) puzzles involve platforms that have 4 gems on them. You’ll need to pay attention to which gems are lit on them as this will tell you how to activate them, usually so they’ll raise to give you access somewhere. Typically the challenge is finding and then collecting them all, normally needing to get them in a specific order.

Aside from the degree of challenge not necessarily being too high, possibly making it a bit easy depending on your tastes, the remaining issues with Elli mostly revolve around the degree of polish. While everything works mechanically well enough it’s all a bit rough around the edges. The story and interacting with characters feels like an afterthought, the camera isn’t always your friend, and there are a limited number of cases where the level design is wonky. In one specific area there’s a pretty serious issue that got me sidetracked a bit where a spot you’re meant to move through freely has what acts like a hidden barrier in the way. I literally needed to practice jumping somewhat diagonally around it, careful not to fall in a pit that’s right under the space you needed to jump through, because there’s a timed door in the area. Hopefully this can get patched because it really took the wind out of my sails in a hurry.

Overall, Elli is a mild and enjoyable puzzle platformer with a very pleasant look. For the most part the lower level of intensity should allow it to appeal to gamers of all types, it just may take some repetition in some sections if you want to be able to grab everything. There’s not much in the way of story driving you forward, it’s just a series of rooms to be conquered for the most part, but it works. With the exception of the one stage with that serious problem with a hidden wall I had to work around it’s a pretty good time.

Score: 7

  • For people seeking puzzle platforming that offers a mild challenge, with optional spots that are tougher, this is a good match
  • In general the puzzles are well-designed, though not necessarily amazing either
  • A somewhat simple but colorful and pleasing look

  • One particular stage that needs to be patched
  • Not much going on in terms of story
  • The cosmetic items you can buy with gems you’ll need to generally work for aren’t much of a reward