Elderand Review (Switch)

Game Details

Retail Price (USD): $19.99
Release Date: February 16, 2023
File Size: 2.8GB
Publisher: Graffiti Games
Developer: Mantra, Sinergia Games
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.2.1.1

Every week, the Switch eShop is all but guaranteed to release a new game that puts a twist on the Metroidvania formula. This time it’s Elderand, an indie developed by Brazilian developer Mantra and Sinergia Games, published by Graffiti Games. Elderand isn’t shy about showcasing where their inspiration comes from – that being Castlevania. It’s great to see many developers talk about their love for and inspiration from the Castlevania series, especially Symphony of the Night, but how does it all come together? Let’s discuss.


Story


Elderand opens with a simple character creation system. With your character created, you then learn that you are the one capable of destroying the evil that Sserthris, the tyrant of the sands, has spread across the land. Completing this mission won’t be as easy as it reads on the cloth contract, though. As you set out on this quest, your ship is struck with lighting and the sea becomes treacherous. You awake on the shores of a cave, Delinquents Breach, after your ship has been totally destroyed. Thus, you set out on your mission.

Shortly after your adventure begins, you will rescue Guam from the spider boss, Shakna. Guam will give you some insights into Elderand and that it has become overrun with all sorts of beasts and creatures, but with no idea as to why. He will tell you that he is heading back to the village of Terrakan where peace still exists and to look for him there if you happen to make it there. Eventually, you will make it there, talk to Guam and the other folks, such as Pascal, who built the village. After speaking with them and learning more about the cult, you continue on your quest.

Elderand has an ok story, but I felt too much of it takes a back seat to the gameplay and left to the player to uncover collectibles and some conversations with NPCs. I am not the biggest fan of games where you need to search all the corners of the world to find letters that piece together the story. There is a bird acquaintance who will tell you some aspects of the land each time you reach a new area and some cut scenes before boss battles – maybe just reworking those and leaving only the deep lore to the collectibles is the way I would have preferred it.


Gameplay


Elderand has all of the necessary ingredients to make a Metroidvania game. You will find your weapons and armor upgrades both scattered around the world in chests, and purchasable from the various shops. You can even win some nice items in the arena. It wouldn’t be a Metroidvania without traversal upgrades, and yes, there is a double jump! Elderand does a lot for all the players to tailor combat to their playstyle. You can play with sword and shield, axes, staves with the ability to also cast magic spells, and even archery. I really liked this system – found myself trying new combinations out or changing tactics depending on the situation. You can easily change your equipment from the menu. I eventually settled on a ranged approach, using magic as it suited my personal play style.

Elderand offers the player a lot of flexibility and stats compared to many Metroidvania games, which is a nice deviation from the norm. You do have your typical upgrades such as double jump, hook shot, dash, etc. But you will also find a chest with mana and health upgrades which are nice because if you decide to spend your level up point in attack or magic, you may not get as many HP increases until you can respec those points later on in the game. You earn these points by killing enemies which earns you XP and eventually allows you to level up. Each level up grants you one point. As I mentioned, those points can be allocated to one of four categories.

In addition to your weapons, you can also equip armor and two accessories, the latter from what I found were reserved for various rings. Weapons can also be upgraded by an NPC in one of the villages if you complete a quest for him; he’s missing a hammer. Elderand does have a few side quests you can complete, such as blacksmith and taking on challenges in the battle arena.

Overall, I really enjoyed the combat system. It can be tough and challenging at first, but it’s one of those games that improves over time as you learn the bosses and standard enemies move sets and can master the combat. You will be backtracking and exploring every bit of Elderand, but luckily there are plenty of camp fires to save and even use as part of the game’s fast travel system.


Presentation


Elderand nails the vibe it’s going for with beautiful pixel work that resembles what fans of Castlevania would expect. All of the biomes and 60 plus enemy varieties are well animated with bloody gore. The soundtrack is enjoyable and pairs well with the overall tone, however none of the tunes were particularly memorable in my opinion.

I did run into one issue, though, with the audio on several occasions when I would be fighting one type of hornet enemy. It could be with other enemies on screen or by itself, and the issue would still occur. I had the issue occur on the last patch that was available prior to release. It was strange as it was like the game was stuttering but nothing on screen was stuttering…just the audio. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future patch as that was the only noticeable issue I experienced during my time with Elderand. It also only happened with one type of flying enemy as there are others in the forest biome which can even spawn from a hive and the issue was nonexistent there.


Conclusion


I really enjoyed my time with Elderand. My adventure took me around 10 hours (the in-game timer isn’t accurate) with just under 90% map exploration completed. Elderand does a great job of balancing both sub-genres that make up a Metroidvania. The combat is solid, boss battles are tough but fair, especially once you master the boss move set and have tweaked your build to your play style. I preferred to go with a staff and higher HP and more powerful spells, but you can customize your build to the style that best suits how you want to play and the gear you have acquired and your current level. Later in the game, you do get the ability to reset your skill point allocation and adjust your build if necessary.

As I mentioned above, I only really ran into one issue and it was where the audio got messed up when fighting a hornet type enemy. Elderand is a solid Metroidvania and one that stays true to its roots. I would have liked to see a few more quality-of-life improvements with the map, though, and would have liked to add a custom marker so I could easily remember where those chests were that needed the double jump ability. Also, points of interest once tackled would have liked the ability to toggle them off, and later in the game when I was looking where to go, there were too many red icons on the map that I had already completed. Overall, Elderand is a solid experience worth checking out if you are looking for a new Metroidvania to sink your teeth into, especially one that leans more towards Castlevania.

Author

Rich

Rich

Editor. Resident database wizard. Bringer of news and keeper of peace on Discord.

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