There is an obvious love for the Metroidvania games of yesteryear in every frame of Elderand from developer Mantra and publisher Graffiti Games. In fact, the only thing that this game doesn’t mimic the older titles is the color palette. Much like the at-the-time-controversial Diablo III‘s transition to brighter colors, this is a good-looking game that defies its dark and dreary predecessors. You might think this would give it an almost Disney-esque feel, but that is not the case. The developers take advantage of their rich colors to emphasize the gore and destruction at every turn. Combined with the game’s sharp difficulty, Elderand is a title for mature audiences.
A pretty game can only get you so far without the gameplay to back it up, and Elderand also delivers in that department. Animations are smooth and the controls are responsive, so the game is enjoyable to play. It is not flawless, however, and most of the issues arise from the enemies and their lack of reactions. The majority of the enemies I fought, fodder and boss alike, rarely react to being hit, which is disconcerting. You do get some abilities that help with this, but overall it takes away some of the satisfaction of wailing on an enemy with your sword. Similarly, in most modern games successfully timing a parry can often give you an opening to retaliate, but that is not the case here. I assume that is by design, but it does take some getting used to. On bosses, this can make getting an opening to strike tiresome and frustrating. I hope that in their next game, or in DLC for this one, the developers will consider re-examining this.
On the Nintendo Switch Elderand runs smoothly in both console and hand-held modes. I never encountered framerate issues in either situation. The game maintains its good looks on the Switch’s small screen, and I imagine on the OLED model the colors will really pop. The sound and music in the game are functional, but not outstanding. The soundtrack suits the game well but isn’t particularly memorable outside of that.
Elderand Review (Nintendo Switch) Final Thoughts:
Elderand is a solid Metroidvania game crafted with care and dedication by fans of the genre. It is not a perfect game, and I think it does not quite rise to the heights of the genre, but it is a good entry nonetheless. Combined with its lower price point of $19.99, this is an easy recommendation. The controls are solid, the graphics pretty and the soundtrack fits the game. Mind you, I am generally not a huge fan of the retro pixel graphics look, but Elderand has won me over. There are also flaws and things that I hope the developer will go back and look at in future patches, but nothing game-breaking. Also, keep in mind that this game is bloody, and meant for more advanced players. If you want to introduce your children to Metroidvania games, this is not the one to do it with for most people. Metroidvania fans should definitely give this one a look.