Legends of Ellaria has been sat in my Steam wishlist for ages. It’s one of those indie titles that looks full of promise and certainly piqued my curiosity when it comes to fantasy RPGs. So when I got the chance to play the game for review, I jumped at the chance. Legends of Ellaria quests towards a new era of innovation in the aforementioned genre, but does the ambitious blend of RPG, RTS, Third-Person Shooter and sandbox work?
The game begins with a prequel quest which sees you – the protagonist, fleeing a besieged castle and escaping through a magical portal to the lands of Ellaria. Once there, you’re tasked with rebuilding your kingdom. Early on the player experiences the RPG and RTS combo that makes up the majority of gameplay in Legends of Ellaria. Pop-up dialogue boxes and tooltips guide the player towards their goal in this opening sequence – readying them for the challenge of rebuilding the realm.
Graphically the game looks good, but nothing special – lighting is actually very good despite the garish colour selections that adorn many of the textures in Ellaria. The UI is basic yet functional, although sadly this detracts from the high-fantasy feel of the game by making it look quite bland.
Whilst the lands of Ellaria look pretty good – even on a high draw distance, they often feel quite empty. Many objects and textures are overused, perhaps due to a lack of assets in the game currently. This undoubtedly breaks the immersion and is quite noticeable after just a few minutes of play. That said, this title is early access still and so is subject to change in the future. This is one of the strengths of the game in fact – the developers appear to have a solid roadmap and are continuously updating the game at regular intervals. “Coming Soon” features include character and army design, kingdom management and a tech tree to name but a few – very promising indeed.
Going back to that opening battle, another thing that struck me was the sound design in Legends of Ellaria. You might expect epic music and lots of ambient sounds during a crucial opening battle – setting the scene for the game if you will. I’m thinking of games like Skyrim and Pillars of Eternity that draw the player in through their sense of hearing as well as sight. Sadly Legends of Ellaria fails to capture this sense, with the opening battle being subject to the same repeated explosion sound and not much else. Often overlooked in fantasy RPGs is the use of music and sound to really immerse the player in the world. Let’s move on before I have to talk about the lack of NPC voices combined with a whole heap of text to read.
Currently, Legends of Ellaria feels very much like a sandbox exploration game – the main systems of the game are there, allowing the player to build RTS style and go questing as you might expect from an RPG, but none of these systems are particularly fleshed-out yet. This makes Legends of Ellaria feel a tad empty and barebones in its current state. I have to say again though, that this title is still in early access and is likely to change.
I’m loathe to give this game a negative review as I feel that the concept is ambitious, yet achievable – look at the Spellforce series if you nee confirmation that such a combination is possible. Legends of Ellaria is however, still very early in development and if Larkon Studios can deliver this promising concept into something solid and enjoyable, then it’ll definitely be a worthwhile fantasy gaming experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this Preview. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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