When his wife’s sudden disappearance and his own ill-health lead him to attempt to take his own life, Elliot is startled to learn that he can’t die. Growing increasingly restless after sleepless nights that are plagued with nightmares and becoming weaker by the day, Elliot seeks out a local sage who explains that he has been afflicted with a rare curse and that a demonic Satar is slowly draining his vitality.
Elliot Quest is remarkably dark then, especially given the game’s somewhat simplistic 8-bit visuals. As Elliot, you must seek out the Guardians that have long protected Urele island before it is too late and the curse overcomes him – seeing him become a Satar.
Ansimuz Games has been honest in naming Zelda II: The Adventures of Link as one of their main sources of inspiration, and it certainly shows. With the freedom to explore the island that is ridden with secrets, armed with bow and arrows the player must summon the courage to brave five dungeons and bring 16 bosses to their knees as they look to save Elliot from his fate.
With abilities and spells to unlock that will undoubtedly help you in your quest, it is the levelling system that underpins the experience that throws more interesting curveballs at you. As you level up in Elliot Quest, the player regularly has the chance to allocate a skill point to their Strength, Wisdom, Agility, Vitality, or Accuracy. This can see the range that you can fire arrows increase, your MP regenerate, have a chance to take half damage, or even letting Elliot run faster, seeing the character steadily grow in strength as you hunt for the Satar.
Death is never troublesome in Elliot Quest, not only thanks to the character’s immortality but the plentiful checkpoints that the game is littered with. That leaves you to concentrate on exploring Urele, with the recovery of items such as the candle and bomb bag early on soon opening up new paths and darkened caverns for you to nervously wander.
Between returning home to your village to rest at the inn and restock your items at the shop, there’s a wonderful sense of freedom to it all. But, despite the retro classics that it looks to partly relive, Elliot Quest could use modernisation in some areas to reduce frustration, especially with player direction. It can grow tiresome to wander the world map and not know where you should go next, which in this day and age seems a little too strong a throwback. Some may love that aspect to it, but I imagine the majority will feel similarly irritated.
It helps that in spite of its minimalist retro aesthetic, Elliot Quest is a marvel to look at, especially when some visual trickery has seen the developer produce some exceptional pixel art. And, accompanied with a sensational soundtrack, it makes your time on Urele all the more immersive.
With your continued exploration eventually leading you to reach one of three endings based on your decisions, Elliot Quest is a lengthy game that welcomes repeat adventures. Whether you want to unlock all three through your own efforts or resort to checking them out on YouTube is entirely your own choice, but know that this is a suitably challenging game that leans heavily on a bygone era. It’s a homage worthy of your time, but be warned that it still carries the same flaws as its inspiration.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by PlayEveryWare