generic_username's Elliot Quest (Wii U) review

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A Familiar Yet Refreshing Experience

On the surface, Elliot Quest is modern Zelda II clone. It's pixel-y. Much of the monster design is very Zelda-esque. You traverse dungeons, towns and difficult terrain on a 2D, side-scrolling plane, while the spaces between those areas is explored through an overhead-view world map. Its similarities to the black sheep of the Zelda franchise are numerous and obvious, but it doesn't feel crass in its execution. It feels much more like an homage than a rip-off, and the game it's referencing isn't actually thoroughly explored territory; Zelda II is not a game that has been riffed on very often. It's actually refreshing to play a game that takes its tropes from The Adventure of Link, as opposed to one of the more revered entries in the series.

I'm not lying about the Zelda similarities.
I'm not lying about the Zelda similarities.

The thing about Elliot Quest is that it's not only an homage to an often passed-over game, it's a great one, too! While the game does contain some very difficult segments, it is checkpointed well and is nowhere near as frustrating as the game it's riffing on was. The controls are more fluid. The resource management is far less frustrating; You actually feel comfortable casting spells in this game, as the fear of running out of magic is considerably reduced here. It takes the formula of Zelda II and brings it into the modern era. Elliot Quest is a much more playable game than The Adventure of Link ever was.

But just being a more playable Zelda II wouldn't be enough to impress me, really. I don't actually have a lot of nostalgia for that entry in the franchise. Elliot Quest is also a great game in its own right. The puzzles are smart, and often have you looking at things from multiple different angles in order to solve them. The levels are well designed, with the platforming segments being challenging but not frustratingly so. The world is actually pretty large, and there are tons of places to explore.

The overworld looks straight out of Zelda II, too.
The overworld looks straight out of Zelda II, too.

All of this is made even better by the unsettling tone of the world Elliot Quest takes place in. The story, while perhaps not the most original story in the world, is told in a unique way, and sets a somewhat dark tone that bubbles underneath the surface as you explore the world. This vaguely unsettling atmosphere colors everything you do in the game, from defeating bosses to talking to townspeople. Everything feels a little off; everything in the world is a little uncomfortable. The game even has multiple endings, and knowing that multiple endings exist makes the very few explicit choices presented to you feel important. And those choices aren't exactly black or white, either. Do you spare the murderous man you meet under the pouring rain and crashing thunder? The answer isn't as obvious as you might think.

Elliot Quest is a game that manages to be unique in spite of paying very deliberate and specific tribute to another game. The game has a large world that is begging you to explore it. It is inherently fun to play, but the atmosphere set by the game's story makes it more than just fun; it makes it thought-provoking. Elliot Quest is one of the best games on the Wii U, and it's not a pricey one either. It is also available on Steam, so if the Wii U platform is a barrier to entry for you, I highly recommend picking it up in the Steam store. This is one of the good ones.

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