All in all, Elli is a cute, fun, and semi-challenging puzzle platformer, full of variation and surprise to keep your interest through its journey.
After a year full of action-packed and high adrenaline games, I was really happy to kick off the new year with what I thought would be a rather relaxing yet still challenging game. When I first heard about Elli, I immediately thought it would be a game for me. I love puzzle games and I always love a good platformer, so when I saw that Elli was a puzzle platformer, I immediately wanted to play it. After finally finishing it up, I can say that while it definitely needs some tweaking here and there, it’s definitely a solid game worth checking out, even as just a time killer.
Elli’s most notable aspect is that of its art style. While it doesn’t feel like anything absolutely unique and didn’t blow me away graphically, it was still appealing to the eyes. The game is consistently full with simple but crisp textures. It knows what it wants to be and doesn’t try and do anything too crazy and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, even when it does try and go for something that could be considered a bit “intensive” graphically, it performs beautifully.
Another great positive for Elli is the controls. Much like a traditional platformer, the left stick is used to move, B is used to jump, and Y is to interact with people or objects. Of course, just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean that it’s boring. The other buttons on the Switch are used to solve puzzles in a variety of ways. Sometimes you need to use the Staff Pulse tied to the triggers to unveil hidden items, sometimes you need to throw objects with X, and so on.
As I’ve said time and time again, the sign of a good puzzle is something that’s not ridiculously challenging, while not overly easy, either.. Using that as a barometer for success, I think Elli, for the most part, nails it. Almost every single one of these levels can be solved if you just sit down, relax, and exhaust all the possible options you can think of. Sure, there were a couple of times that I was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to get another weight for a mechanism or find out where a hidden path was, but these are definitely uncommon, only happening to me two or three times during the course of Elli.
Another great thing about the variation of these puzzles and gameplay. Towards the beginning of Elli, I was a bit disappointed that some of the levels felt so similar to each other. Again, simplicity is a good thing, but when it comes to gameplay you need something to keep your interest as time goes on. After I dug deeper into Elli, however, I saw that there was actually tons of different types of puzzles, traps, jumps, throughout the entirety of the game. If you can get past that first hour or so of repetitiveness, I promise you, it’s well worth it.
Of course, it’s not all peaches and cream. I really didn’t like the checkpoint and life system in Elli. At the start of each level, there’s a large auto-save point, however, all throughout the level there are a bunch (depending on which level you’re in) of smaller checkpoints. While this sounds good on paper, Elli also uses a three life system. If you run out of all your lives, you have to start the whole level over from the beginning. If you fall off the edge of the world and die (which is where most of my deaths came from) before your three lives are out, you can simply restart from the last smaller checkpoint you hit, with full lives even if you died with only one left. It’s not overwhelmingly bad, but it just seems a bit unnecessary.
The story of Ellie also takes a bit of a backseat. There’s no spoken dialogue throughout the course of the game and, to me, it was rare to talk to any NPCs at all. This isn’t a huge complaint as the gameplay, art style, and puzzles certainly make up for it. If you plan on playing Elli for the simply for the story alone, then this probably isn’t for you.
Luckily, Elli also has almost no bugs from what I encountered. I did happen upon one tiny animation bug, where the characters hands were above their head as if they were holding something, however, it was quickly remedied. Given the fact that even AAA games have tons of bugs nowadays, whenever a game has little to none, I’m always impressed.
Overall, Elli is a great looking, well-crafted puzzle platformer. While the checkpoint/life system feels unnecessary and the story clearly isn’t the main focus of the game, players will still certainly have a great time plowing through the little game. At $19.99, I feel like it’s just a tad too high for me to fully recommend. However, if the game drops in price a bit, it’s certainly worth picking up.