XEL | Nintendo Switch Review
XEL is a 3D adventure where you take on the role of Reid to uncover the secrets and mysteries hidden in her past. It is developed by Tiny Roar and published by Assemble Entertainment, and is currently available on Windows PC and Nintendo Switch. For the purpose of my review, I was playing the Nintendo Switch version in handheld mode.
XEL puts you in the shoes of Reid, a young person who has been stranded on a strange planet that we know as XEL. Reid doesn’t seem to have any recollection of her past or how she got here. As you progress through the dungeons, solve puzzles and extinguish the enemy threats, you’ll find new gadgets, new friends and begin to unravel the mysteries that lie in XEL.
XEL has a very typical, traditional world and level design, and nothing that will be overly surprising to you. You’ll find a door, or an obstacle, and you’ll need to navigate around said obstacle, open a door or two, solve a puzzle, and eventually you’ll find what you need. You start out with a sword, shield and a basic dodge, however later on you’ll end up with a bigger arsenal of weapons including a flamethrower and a hammer, but for the most part the action will be basic hack and slash action. Unfortunately, I found the combat to feel quite stale, and it didn’t really hold my attention particularly well beyond the first boss. Equally, the puzzles weren’t really anything to write home about and seemed to be lacking that extra layer that puzzles really need. Initially, I did feel quite charmed by XEL, but then it quickly faded to slight frustration and impatience. The best things about XEL for me were the visuals and sound design, but even they quickly became annoying because there were constant stutters when the game renders, frame drops and audio bugs and finally, I lost count of how many times the camera would randomly swing round, and I’d be blinded by a tree mid-combat and die.
XEL plays very much like it wants to be a Zelda game. Unfortunately, I feel like XEL is distinctly lacking its own touch and that really sets the game back even more for me. Everything from the information box that pops up when you pick up an item, to the sound effects, to the little stamina metre that pops up was literally identical to Breath of the Wild. Whilst I agree Breath of the Wild is an incredible game; there’s plenty more incredible games yet to come into existence and developers can take inspiration from these games without things becoming a carbon copy of it.
I believe with some work perhaps XEL could have gripped me and been a truly enjoyable experience, but unfortunately, in its current state I really couldn’t get into it and struggled to appreciate very much about it. The pacing of the exploration and the story progression all felt wrong, leaving me feeling incredibly unmotivated to see what was coming next.
Lj’s Rating: 2 out of 5.
For more information on XEL please use the following links...
Many thanks to UberStrategist for the Review Key.