Hands-On With Eleusis, A Mysterious Indie Adventure Game
Eleusis is a mysterious indie adventure game from developers Nocturnal Works. It’s actually a recent release on Desura, and you can pick it up off the page if you’re interested. Luckily, there’s a free demo to try out before you make your decision. After having played through the demo, I’m here to introduce you to the game and tell you about the experience. This should be short and sweet.
This is a first person adventure game with a horror theme, although if the demo is any indication of the final game then Eleusis is not really trying to scare you so much as it is trying to be mysterious and intriguing, which it successfully manages to be might I add. The game takes place in what appears to be an abandoned village in Greece, where the protagonist ends up after his car breaks down. However, it’s not long before he finds himself at the center of attention of a bunch of mysterious events, and discovers that the village has dark secrets overseen by a twisted cult. Caught in the middle and facing imminent danger, the task falls on you to stop the cult from accomplishing their goal.
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The synopsis is pretty revealing, far more than the demo itself, which merely serves as a light teaser to the game. The good news is that you can immediately see that this game is made by talented designers, and it’s really high quality thanks to the developers making good use of the Unreal Development Kit. The game looks fantastic and really well detailed, and offers some advanced graphics options like DirectX 11 support and dynamic shadows. My only small nitpick would be that in some areas it looks a bit too dark, but the overall art direction is wonderful, and if done correctly in the full game, Eleusis could easily immerse you into its experience. It has a very Amnesia: The Dark Descent feel to it, which definitely means this game is on the right direction as far as inspiration is concerned.
The demo gives you a brief feel for the atmosphere, which definitely looks to be handled well. The best way to describe Eleusis is probably along the lines of “spooky” or “creepy”, although that’s most evident towards the end of the demo when you get the obligatory cliff-hanger. I quite like the cinematic effects that the game makes use of, shifting control out of players’ hands during certain moments and seamlessly returning that control in real-time. It makes for a flowing gameplay experience. I really hope the full game plays a lot more to its mystery and spooky elements, because the demo seems to be the right start for it. I’m also very intrigued by it because it’s a nice change from the huge variety of horror titles I’ve been playing lately, as this one isn’t trying to be scary, but interesting and compelling.
Gameplay wise, the demo hardly gives you anything to go on. It’s centered around one puzzle that’s pretty standard adventure game stuff. It’s probably one of the game’s early puzzles, and while most of it is logically designed, one gripe I had with it was that it fell victim to a common frustration of the genre, and that’s requiring players to seek out a specific common item. To elaborate and put it into context, you need to find a container to store gas, but despite there being a bucket and many containers laying around, the game only allows you to use one specific container that you need to find somewhere far out. While it’s alright to have the puzzle require one item, its not very intuitive when said item, or logical substitutes, is littered all over the place. Fortunately it’s not that big of a deal here since the map isn’t very large, but hopefully the full game won’t use design like this. Getting stuck isn’t fun.
It may seem like I’m a little negative here, but it should be expected that a tiny teaser demo won’t have me quaking in my boots. Still, that said, it has certainly done its job considering that I’m very eager and curious to see more, and I actually want to play the full game now. If anything, my reaction says that the demo has done as much as it could have, so I’ll be looking to play the complete game soon.
While I personally really like Eleusis so far, and my short time with the game has made me extremely curious to play more, I have to be honest and say that the demo didn’t exactly make me want to rush out to purchase the game due to its steep price tag. As such, I’m definitely going to try and play the full game so I can get a review out. Despite my issue of caution though, the most interesting part to this game is definitely its narrative focus, and there’s no denying that it’s looking like a game of high quality.