Indie Review: Eleusis
Eleusis is an adventure horror game created by indie developers Nocturnal Works, that takes place in a seemingly abandoned, mysterious village in Greece. How does it measure up?
- Worth The Time?Depends. The narrative is, but some of the gameplay can get tedious.
- Things LovedThe engaging story, excellent graphics and sound, exploration is nicely emphasised, there's a well thought-out sequence to the puzzles, the setting makes for great immersion, it feels like a top quality production.
- Things HatedPerformance can drop significantly on DirectX 11 mode due to Tessellation, the game is very item-specific and it can be difficult to find what you need, running around searching can get very tedious and detract greatly from the interesting story and setting, some physics glitches, lack of variety.
- RecommendationThis is an expensive indie game, but it has a lot of quality and effort put into it. If you're not adverse to thorough exploration and old-school item hunting, the great narrative will definitely pull you in and you'll love this. For the more modern or impatient gamer, it could get tedious and frustrating.
- Name: Eleusis
- Genre: Horror
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Nocturnal Works
- Publisher: Nocturnal Works
- Price: R165
- Reviewed On: PC
Eleusis is an adventure horror game created by indie developers Nocturnal Works, that takes place in a seemingly abandoned, mysterious village in Greece. In the game you take on the role of a character who is unfortunate enough to have his car break down near to this village, and tries to seek refuge only to find himself caught at the center of something dangerous and strange going on. It’s not too long before he begins to discover signs of a cult at work, and without knowledge of their goals or power, he is the only one who can stop them. But before you’re able to do that, you’ll need to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge from various clues and texts based on actual history, mythology and technology of ancient Greece. Only once you discover what the cult is after, can you stop them.
The narrative is by far the most interesting aspect of Eleusis. Right from the beginning the setting will draw you in, and the mysterious village will provide a great level of immersion. There are short cutscenes as well to help the story along, as well as a bit of voice acting. It’s definitely a game of really high quality by talented indie developers, and that shines through in the game’s story and especially its graphics and audio. In many ways, I found myself wanting to get past the gameplay just so I could see more of the story, and that’s really the mark of any good story – or possibly unsatisfactory gameplay. The story is admirably kept within its scope, and never tries to be more than it is, coming around to a satisfying conclusion in the end and ultimately being well-written. It’s the best part of the game.
As far as gameplay is concerned, the name of the game is exploration. You’ll explore the village and its outskirts in order to solve the game’s puzzles and make progress. The map is fairly large, but not too big to be overbearing. You’ll just need to have a good sense of direction, and you’ll run through each area enough times throughout the game so that it gets ingrained in your memory. This element of exploration is very nicely emphasised in the game, and it’s pretty great to discover the village and see what lies inside it. There’s definitely a well thought-out sequence to the puzzles, in that they connect quite well and it’s often that you’ll deal with one situation at a time, rather than be tasked with many, despite the map being open to you to explore, which is a good thing as it keeps you focused.
However, the unfortunate thing about the gameplay in Eleusis is that it’s very item-specific, and it can be difficult to find what you need. Running around searching every nook and cranny in this fairly large map can get really tedious and detract greatly from the interesting story and fantastic setting. Even worse is that often it can feel like all you’re doing is looking for items, and there isn’t much else to break up the variety. The game lacks intriguing gameplay scenarios, which is a shame since the narrative and setting are so interesting. Sure, the puzzles are well-designed, but solving them isn’t the problem so much as finding what you need to actually solve them. It’s very easy to miss things and get stuck.
I can attest to that because I play a lot of adventure and puzzle games, and I’m quite the stubborn one when it comes to getting help. I’ll persevere and push at it until I get it, but the downside to that is a game like Eleusis ended up frustrating me, especially because I so much wanted to see the story unfold and progress through it. At times it takes too much of a back seat. The gameplay is definitely not all bad, it’s mostly solid, but it can often feel like a platform to delay the narrative rather than drive it. Perhaps that’s because I was too interested in the story itself, and maybe those who enjoy scratching their heads and getting really invested in the puzzle solving element would find far more to enjoy here. I mean, just when you’re closing in on the finale to the game, you suddenly find yourself needing to find five things spread far away from each other on the map, which really cuts the tension and slows you down. The game just needed more intriguing scenarios and variety to divert from item-scavenging.
When it comes to its graphics and audio, Eleusis is certainly amazing. Created using the Unreal Development Kit, this game is top notch when it comes to visual quality, supporting both DirectX 9 and 11 with Tessellation. The environments are packed with detail, and the atmosphere is really great. It’s a world you’ll want to explore and interact with, as much as its one that you’ll want to look at and admire. The developers undoubtedly poured a lot of effort and talent into this aspect of the game, and it shines through. There are a few issues though, sadly. For one, it’s very easy for the physics to glitch and spaz when you’re moving around objects. But the biggest offender is that performance can drop significantly when using DirectX 11 mode, due to Tessellation. The latest update did improve performance and frame rate, but it can still chug noticeably. Back to the positive side is that the voice acting and sound are both great, and definitely match the quality shown with the graphics, which was very impressive.
Eleusis is extremely well-made, and a top quality production. It may be expensive, but there’s no denying that a lot of effort was put into it. The narrative however is the main attraction, but the gameplay unfortunately has the potential to detract from it. If you’re not adverse to thorough exploration and old-school item hunting, the great narrative will definitely pull you in and you’ll love this experience. But for the more modern or impatient gamer, it could easily get tedious or frustrating. I enjoyed my time with Eleusis, but almost all of that came from the narrative and setting.