Review: Elderand (Nintendo Switch)

The Nintendo community is in love with metroidvanias right now. Coming into the scene is Elderand, a metroidvania with a dash of RPG for the Nintendo Switch. It has successfully taken inspiration from those before it, notably Castlevania to which this is a love letter to, making it a solid addition to the genre. Elderand also plays it safe by not experimenting with the formula; but is that really such a bad thing?

Our faceless hero begins their journey washed ashore alongside lost cargo and lifeless bodies. This hellish world is filled with lovecraftian creatures guarding the terrain you’ve been tasked with trekking. The story unfolds through notes, cryptic messages, and dialogue leaving it up to your imagination to decipher. It may be too big of a mystery considering how confusing the story is. Nonetheless, it is your duty to uncover its ancient mysteries and hidden treasures. There is a lot of ground to cover as well. Exploration plays a major role in Elderand as you are tasked with filling out the map, revealing how far you’ve traveled.

Players, thankfully, can move with a sense of urgency and won’t find themselves trapped in tutorial hell. You learn as you go with the help of banners and campfires scattered throughout the world. These provide tidbits on how to play, as well as making space for a break to heal, save, and go over any goods you’ve come across so far. The controls are as simple as they can get, yet the game offers quite a challenge.

Play it smart when coming face-to-face with enemies. Reckless plays will earn you the punishment of being sent back in time to your last save, causing you to lose all that you’ve collected thus far. How you choose to play, be it clever or chaotic, is up to you, weapon-wise. Players have the choice of slaying their enemies with swords, bow and arrow, or even axes, for those who want to embody their inner Simon Belmont from Castlevania.

Players earn points as they level up, which can be put toward their stats: vitality to improve your health and endurance, strength to increase your damage output, dexterity to heighten the chance of a critical hit, and wisdom for extra magic points. Your build is custom fit to your playstyle. The same goes for how you choose to spend your gold. It is best to be mindful of how you make use of your resources.

The character customization options are lackluster. Players can choose their appearance, skin, and hair color among fewer than five options. While our faceless hero is a bit on the bland side, the in-game world and bosses are impressive. These much larger sprites leave more room for greater detail. You might find yourself taking a moment from traversing the world and in between battles (or during to take a good look at those boss sprites. Hope you saved beforehand!) to take in the 2D pixel-perfect world around you.

Overall, Elderand offers what you expect from a metroidvania. It is an addition to the genre offering no more or less of a solid experience.

Elderand is available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99.

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