Elea begins with a few floating space paragraphs to give the player some context as to what’s going on and what they are letting them-selves in for. We are informed that the Earth was ravaged by a neurological mutation that turns every Earth born child into a rage monster and the only cure strips them of all emotion. Humanity decides that Earth is fucked and that a new planet is needed so they send an interstellar space ship named “Pilgrimage” to colonise an as yet unexplored planet, which if you ask me is just begging for trouble. The number of clichés in the text alone is shocking, but I like space, zombie-esq adventures with a little mystery thrown in, so I was game.
After completing the tutorial which involves getting to know the controls you are taken on a trip which I can only describe as a Pink Floyd laser show with some Bio Shock spliced in. Delightfully colourful but at the same time I wasn’t really sure why this scene was happening; the intro hadn’t really given me enough information to explain where it fit the narrative beyond Elea wants some of her memories deleted.
Next thing I know I am sitting in a day care/children’s room with my husband’s voice waking me, and as it turns out Elea is pregnant (clearly a prime candidate for space exploration). After a brief chat with Elea’s husband we get our first bit of gameplay, the player is able to explore the nursery and interact with objects. It brought back memories of Fallout 3, right down to the starting in a nursery part. After some more back-and-fourth with hubby we’re tasked with going to the sons’ room and asking if he wants to talk to his dad, a mundane objective but the gamer in me is primed, ready for the big jump scare/event to happen. Alas this was not to be, as sonny boy doesn’t want to talk and promptly tells you to go away, the cheeky little shit.
But I swallowed the urge to eject the little bastard into space and moved on to the next objective, to enter the basement and reset the parental controls so I can essentially hack into “my sons’” room. Of course this being a Sci Fi space’ em up the lights go out, “here we go” I thought, “this is where some eldritch space horror will try to eat my face” but nope, it’s just a normal power cut. The whole stop starting feel does very little to build any tension, and really highlighted the lack of structure and pacing in the game. Nothing felt connected, it seemed like I was simply going down a check list hoping to trigger the next action crucial to progress.
The gameplay (such as it is) isn’t much better, particularly the movement of the main character. It feels very clumsy, not to mention painfully slow and while there is a run function, sometimes it just flat out doesn’t work. Then you have the many performance issues and bugs, such as the way the game will freeze for a split second only to start again facing in a different direction. Then we have the graphics, while I will admit that the cut-scenes are well done, the graphics overall leave much to be desired. For example the game has this sickening motion blur that makes everything seem out of focus. This is emphasised every time you walk, which for a game that is 90% walking is not good.
Elea attempts to pay homage to other Sci Fi media in an attempt to emulate their emotion, artistic direction and playability but it really only serves as a reminder that there is better out there. The potential for a good game is in here, there is an interesting premise and the bones of a good story, it’s just a shame it’s hampered by dodgy controls and awkward pacing.