Elliot Quest: Link, Mega Man and Pit Enter an Orgy….

Elliot Quest: Link, Mega Man and Pit Enter an Orgy….

But seriously, if Legend of Zelda, Mega Man and Kid Icarus somehow all spliced genes by some means typically unachievable by a group of sweaty, fictional male characters, you would get this game. Hawt. Beyond just pooling disparate elements like so much manseed, Elliot Quest goes beyond its original inspirations, painting a deep, pixelated adventure with morose shades of vulnerability behind its toga-clad hero. Easy to learn, a bitch to master, Elliot Quest will remind you of the rule of any second generation game: pixel size is not inversely proportionate to challenge.

Looking at Elliot, the main character of this adventure, you will notice the toga, and no he’s not on his way back from a goddamn toga party at Phi Kappa Ups-the-butt. He’s just got a style that reminds me one of Pitt of Kid Icarus fame, and boy does the little fucker flaunt it. His main weapon? Bow. Either way, guy, the game itself plays like a Legend of Zelda-themed Mega Man title. And the worst part? It’s just as much fucking fun as that combination would imply. A bow is a weapon almost as simple in use as a sword, but nothing about this game is easy, so don’t take his adorable red hair to mean you’ll get a free ride. I mean, some of the advertisement posters make him look like a ginger-tastic Hannibal Lecter!

I'm gonna eat your family!!!

I’m gonna eat your family!!!

That’s some seriously terrifying Hibernian horseshit. Regardless, you will have some fun. Controls are pretty simple and I didn’t have to have any special software to make my DualShock4 controller work – big plus there – but the keyboard controls have you hitting up to interact, space for jump, arrow keys for controls, enter for inventory, ‘s’ for special and ‘d’ for fire zee missiles.. I mean… arrows! Enemies tend to come at you pretty thick but slow, like being stabbed to death. You see the enemies and they come at you pretty slow. Often it is not too difficult to avoid them until they get right up on you and all you can do is shoot arrows, hoping you can get them before they munch your face. Each enemy, however, has its own method of attack, though. Bats flit close one inch at a time, hit you then fly off before you start flailing around like a lunatic. There are knights that will mimic your movement, then pause to take a swipe at you. Most enemies have a unique way to strike that you might not see coming at first, but given a moment to study their movements you will learn how to undo them. Unless you barrel in “trainwreck-style” like me and stumble into all the swords. Then the enemies take the unique stance of watching you murder yourself with their conveniently positioned weapons.

Pixel art in this game is good, not gratuitous. Too often, indie games will employ this “pixels for pixels’ sake” style where graphical concessions are made for attention and plucking nostalgic chords. You know, like Shovel Knight. It’s a sickness that the indie scene needs to avoid. When you do something with a graphical style, try taking an angle that displays ingenuity, or at least an original idea beyond using a weapon that can be passed off as not a regular weapon. Elliot Quest takes the pixelated style and tries to build on it a little, rather than attempting to artificially generate the limitations of archaic systems for the nose-thumbing crowd. Splicing some modern approaches to pixel art with the classic touches makes this game’s look as original as it is nostalgic.

So what if I stab you, mother fucker? Can I go around stealing random peoples' shit then!?!?!

So what if I stab you, mother fucker? Can I go around stealing random peoples’ shit then!?!?!

Dungeons have a tendency to follow the Legend of Zelda formula. Enter blind, find the map to gain a rudimentary concept of which hell-spawn nest of ineffable evil you’ve stumbled into, find the special items to get to the boss and win. Granted, things aren’t always as grim as all that. Actually, dungeons in this game have an awkward sense of foreboding, not dissimilar to Braid. I am not usually a fan of melodramatic ambiance, but it gives this game an interesting tension that follows you around. Why are all these dungeons, places where a champion was supposed to hold power, full of monsters and traps? What is the mysterious island?

Coming back to the dungeons themselves, though, each dungeon room has monsters to kill and a path that you might use to get through it. If you cannot proceed along the path, you are likely missing some important element of the game. In one dungeon, there was a hallway filled with fireball-launchers. I died at least eight times in foolhardy attempts to outrun the flying balls of flaming fucking death before I realized I was doing something wrong. I always allow myself a little extra determination in case the impediment lies solely in my ability, but after a bit you’ll know. Later I found a shield that, when I stand still, will reflect fireballs with a happy little *tink*! But this item isn’t a free ride as the developer saw fit to force players through a hallway that had fireball launchers on either side. Fucker.

Behold! The mystical cinnamon roll of arcane power!

Behold! The mystical cinnamon roll of arcane power!

Items in this game range from the insignificant to the impressive. Coins seem to permeate the world as if placed by the same money-distributing maniac as in the mushroom kingdom. These are used to buy various goods at the item shop in town: useful things like life or magic potions. You’ll also find magic orbs and sometimes life hearts. Your life bar can be expanded by finding heart containers throughout the world, typically after boss battles. Throughout the various dungeons one will find a wide array of cleverly ensconced arcane weaponry that can be used to unlock paths that seemed only quizzically arranged objects before, which gives this game a metroidvania aspect that makes it a lot of fun.

Boss battles happen suddenly and instantly remind you of Mega Man: two opposing doors lock on either side of a perfectly rectangular room containing a rather obvious battle arena upon entering and you have to face an extra powerful enemy. Typically these fights will lead you to some special item, which the truly perceptive toga-clad adventurers can foretell. Usually the boss will be wielding it against you in his attack strategy. Prior to finding the bomb pouch, I had to fight a cackling little goblin that runs around throwing bombs like an overly giddy pro-arsonist. These guys tend to be tough, too, and beating them leaves Elliot in a cut scene where he reenacts some episode of emo soul-wringing.

Blue dots equal power!

Apparently wisdom induces vision-related health issues

Another element that makes this game more intriguing is its leveling system. I know right? It’s like this shit was developed by Bethesda or something. OBLIGATORY LEVELING SYSTEM! It doesn’t feel shoehorned at all, though. Taking levels in strength increases shooting range, wisdom gives a chance for magic orbs to provide double mp, agility makes you fire faster, vitality grants a chance for hearts to grant extra health when collected and accuracy increases likelihood of critical hits. Each of these skills grants a noticeable, but not gratuitous, advantage. Of course, you can beat the game without leveling the whole way, since it is more a skill-based game than a leveling strategy game. And a good fucking thing too! Every time you die, you lose XP! You will never lose more than your current level, but it still blows big, gnarly dicks. Leveling is not the point of this game, but losing those levels makes you feel extra shitty. Apparently this game also has some kind of alignment system, too. If you go around being a dick like you would in any other retro adventure (you know, by entering peoples’ homes unannounced to break all their crockery and steal whatever goods they keep in there) shit comes back to you. I am pretty sure having a bad alignment in this game will make it suck for you, but I don’t have the brass balls to go around stabbing chickens to find out.

Music in this game is snazzy and goes with the Latin-Mayan fusion style and isn’t surprising since the developer, Ansimuz Games, is a Mexico-based developer. Even still, Latin style is not something that I see often enough and it is frankly refreshing, providing a neat little style for those fans of Greco-Roman mythology. If you are a fan of retro-game mashing games that make you work for your fun, this title is for you. I would recommend players at least give it a shot and at $9.99 on Steam, you can easily buy the game on a whim. Players can also find this title on OUYA and Wii U, apparently. The game is fantastic at any price, but being inexpensive makes it that much better, not to mention you get a great game that will occupy you for a little while. Underestimate Elliot Quest and you will find yourself respawning at a glowing headstone, counting the experience points that you have to make up before your next level. Great time. Go for it. Still not convinced? Read more about it at the Elliot Quest site!

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