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Before the storm

  • nhubi
  • 06/11/2014 09:29 AM
Enelysion opens with a simply rendered cut scene outlining the mystical history of the continent of Tairngire. Seven centuries before our tale unfolds a band of heroes now known as the four founders rid the world of a great evil then separated to form the countries which constitute the continent today. This story isn't earth-shatteringly original in any sense, but it doesn't have to be, a simple tale told well is more than enough.

Into this world 759 years later steps Laine, our main protagonist, a sell-sword with kick-ass skills and attitude and the pre-requisite shadowy past. Following an encounter with a group of ne'er-do-wells on the road in defence of a supply caravan, she finds a mysterious blue orb and after returning to her home gives it for study to her long-time friend, Patrick, a pale pacifistic priest. To say these two are chalk and cheese is an understatement, but the very dichotomy of their personalities, goals, and at times morals, is what makes their friendship work. It's easy to be a friend to someone who agrees with you, the real test comes in the hard times, and relationships are hard.

Having recently lost her mentor and sword-master, Rikard, Laine takes what commissions she can to supplement her income and to keep herself busy so as not to dwell too long on her loss. Some of the commissions she takes are less than safe and along the way Patrick frequently joins her; as friends are wont to do, to twin his healing powers with her sword prowess. During these missions he never ceases to remind Laine of his attitude towards killing, and I must admit after a while it does get grating on the nerves. Still his role is that of moral compass and in that he accomplishes it admirably, if somewhat irritatingly. Though his naivety at certain points does beggar belief, and his moral outrage and shock at hard choices she has to make between what is right and what is easy can push the boundaries of credibility at times.

After a few simple, though sometimes heart-breaking, missions and one dire warning from a mysterious hooded individual our duo meet and eventually travel with two Knights, Cillian & Siglud, brothers in arms and honour bound men. Cillian is a contemplative knight, with a wry but hidden sense of humour, Siglud is the joker, the flirt and the prankster, but his devotion to his shield-brother is without question and both knights are warriors of the first water. These are the men you want walking by your side on the road to Hell, because they'll kick down the gates to get you in and guard your back on the way out.

These true men of honour have a story to tell our teal-haired heroine...and thus our quest begins.

Well, it does get the job done.

Enelysion is beautiful to look at, the tile-sets are all default, but they are rendered with style and grace, and are both pleasant and realistic to travel through. The plains are windswept and stark; the deserts harsh and unforgiving of mistakes; the forests are alive with life and sound; the towns and villages practically laid out and staffed with a broad and entertaining selection of NPC's who provide not only the relevant story exposition and glimpses of the character's back-stories but also a bit of humour and amusement along the way, some subtle, some ribald.

It just isn't a real RPG without a reference to an arrow in the knee.

Whilst the tile-sets within the game are all default, the characters are not, some serious work has gone into make Laine, Patrick, Siglud and Cillian appear as individual characters with their personality traits writ large upon their features. There are moments when words simply lose their relevance and all that you need is a look, and the artwork within this game enables that visual device to be used effectively and authentically at times.

The music in Enelysion is heavily influenced by the Celtic and world tradition with tracks from Enya, Greendjohn and Roger Subirana Mata. They are melodic, intense, emotional and meaningful and are chosen with care and consideration for every map and scene. There were times when I found myself at a standstill in the game so I could listen until the end of a particular track, and there are a few I've added to my personal library for future enjoyment.

The enemies you face are all on-screen encounters which is always appreciated, as there are times when you simple don't want to have to battle yet another group of hornets and the every 30 step average has always been a bit of a letdown for me as a player, so I appreciate the ability to plan when I'm going to enter into a battle. In addition it does make clearing an area much easier, you know once all the enemies are gone you can take a breather and check out all those pots, barrels and crates before moving forward.

The battle system is front view with the addition of a battle order graphic to help with strategy, and an enemy HP/MP indicator. Certain weapons come with skills attached and those skills are only available if the weapon is equipped which makes for some interesting balancing options, as the most powerful is at times not the best choice against an enemy with certain vulnerabilities and strengths. Given that the included scan as you go option and bestiary can prove exceptionally useful, and the bestiary is thoughtfully broken up into boss and non-boss sections.

Just one more to collect.

The developer has also incorporated an additional stat, Resistance, which increases defence to magical attacks. Choosing equipment that enhances this extra stat can have a profound influence on the survivability of the characters in battles. Furthermore there is a stat attribution system to allow some truly customisable characters traits, though the RES stat cannot be enhanced in this manner. AP is earned as you level up and how you choose to attribute those points can drastically change just how effective your characters can be. This is a low stat game, so every single one counts and you need to consider the way you wish to grow your character from the outset since once the points are assigned they cannot be changed. There are also some stat enhancing items sprinkled throughout the world but they are justifiably rare or exceedingly expensive.

Now for Laine; the Tank, or the Spank?

There are very few true puzzles within the game, I think I ran into two or perhaps three during the course of the adventure, and there are no mini-games whatsoever, which is far from a negative in my view. There are quite a few opportunities to push boulders or statues around but in most cases they're more an obstruction than a puzzle, though I do like the fact Laine can pull as well as push when it comes to it.

There are three side-quests in the game, four if you wished to count Ogden village, but since that commission needs to be completed before you can trigger the meeting with our knightly duo it's more a story progression. The lack of side-quests isn't a detriment, Laine is a single-minded individual and her need to press forward to find answers to her questions is exemplified by her reluctance to take on tasks which do not further her goal. In fact the only reason she does enter into the hunts that comprise the side-quests is to, perhaps, aid in her search for a missing companion. Though the money and the kick-ass weapons as rewards isn't anything to sneeze at either.

Save appears to be always available except in selected short dungeons (such as the first one under Landen Town) which is another plus in my book. Given that I don't have hours per day to dedicate to game-playing being able to save at almost any point and return makes me much more likely to continue with a game than the forced trek back to the world map, or worse yet a tavern or Inn to save. The teleport crystals interspersed around the world aid in that regard as well.

There is a plethora of beautiful touches in this game, the fact the menu comes up on the screen opposite to the side of your characters so as not to obscure them, the pretty and informative little pop-ups as items are found in chests, drawers and pots, the inclusion of a bestiary with a percentage of monsters found and a journal which is vital in any game of this nature but is simply and elegantly used here. I would have appreciated if the journal included optional quests such as the hunts, rather than just destination notes for the main storyline, though as the side quests were few in number it was more of a minor annoyance.

In addition to the actual game mechanics it is the little things in Enelysion that makes it such a joy to play, apart from the gorgeous maps, the quietly ticking clock in the foyer of Cadmus House, the flitting glowing butterflies over the forests of Lothlorien & Ulaid, the fact that when you rummage through a chest of drawers the drawer pops out and stays that way. These small and seemingly insignificant touches show the attention to detail the developer has invested in their vision of this world and it pays off in the high immersion factor.

The continent of Tairngire is an enchanting world with a cast of characters in whom you'll invest, a rich history and a diverse and interesting group of denizens. But, and isn't there always a but, it's not stand alone. The story of Laine and her companions does not finish at game's end. In fact we are left with a tantalising cliff-hanger, which given the current cancelled with hope state of the next chapter does leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

If you want a game you can spend a good 7 - 8 hours in and have fun developing and playing with your characters then Enelysion: Halcyon Days is a great way to do it. However if you want to know just what happens to Laine, if her quest is ultimately successful or not, and what price she will have pay before the journey's end, then you're going to be disappointed. You can play Volume I for the beautiful maps, the entrancing music and the interesting character development and enjoy it for the gem it is, or like a few of us do you can needle Yuna on occasion to get Volume II completed so we can all travel with Laine to the end.



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This is a well-written review.
But screenshot #3 is a spoiler >:O
Nice way to say "Yuna, please make Vol II!!"

Good review though.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
@Dyhalto how is s3 a spoiler? I'll hide it if you really think so, but I'm unsure how the names of monsters in the bestiary constitute a spoiler.

@urano23, thank you, and yes well I really do want to know what happens to Laine :)
- Damn it, nhubi, you beat me to the punch! I guess this is what happens when you decide to take your sweet ass time and take in most of the experience instead of just trying to get er’ done.

I’m also surprised that this review lacks, or doesn’t even remotely mention about the incredibly tough Eos Shrine with its big, bad bosses and sudden jump in difficulty, there. Or maybe it’s because you didn’t have as much trouble as I did…???

Anyways, good review. Looks like I’ll have to bring my A game if I want to top this one. *stretches fingers*
Wow, thanks for the review, nhubi. You just made my day. Now all I have to do is wait for Addit's review. >:D Ooh, and more MS for me too, whoopee!

But yeah, just keep your eyes peeled for Vol II. I realise I just can't leave you guys hanging off that cliff forever. XD
But yeah, just keep your eyes peeled for Vol II. I realise I just can't leave you guys hanging off that cliff forever. XD

Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Hey Addit, your B game is more than enough, trust me. In regard to the Eos Shire, yes I did have a bit of trouble with that first *insert expletive here* boss, though not 5 times. Perhaps I just got lucky and fluked it with the equipment/weapons I was using (also, poison yay), so it didn't feel like such a huge leap in difficulty to me, just as hard a battle as I had been warned it was going to be. I suppose I concentrated more on character balancing with the ways you can shape them than monster difficulty.

...and anyway I've got to leave something for you to say :)
Just let me finish up Tristian, and then I'll start working on Vol II. Of course, this could mean that the latter won't make an appearance until mid-2015, at least.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Just let me finish up Tristian, and then I'll start working on Vol II. Of course, this could mean that the latter won't make an appearance until mid-2015, at least.

Don't care, just knowing it's not cancelled is enough. *oh, happy days...*
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