Search for your loved one and determine the fate of humanity in this first-person space adventure.
Elea is a heavily story-driven game by first-time developer Kyodai Ltd. You play as Elea Catherine Jones, a space explorer who is one of the few inhabitants of the starship Recovery. The Recovery's mission is to discover the fate of the starship Pilgrimage, a missing ship upon which Elea's husband, Ethan, held a prominent position. Elea is a space explorer just like Ethan and she is currently on the mission to discover the fate of the Pilgrimage and hopefully unveil what happened to her lost husband in the process.
Sounds like a promising story, right? Unfortunately, in its current state, it's a story that I don't care to see through to the end as it simply takes way too long to find out where I need to go next. Even worse, playing Elea makes me feel nauseous. I'm not sure what exactly causes it but I have had the same problem while playing Portal. It might be that I'm playing on the lowest graphics settings or have to do with the narrow field of view or the bright, psychedelic imagery in some of the cutscenes.
Elea begins with you, as Elea, laying on a stretcher in the medical bay just before a procedure is performed that has to do with her memories but it's not immediately clear what the procedure is for. Then, bright flashing lights occur. You then float in space for some reason and eventually find yourself in your home on Earth. You're pregnant sitting in the baby's room while talking to Ethan with a holographic communication device. You go to check on your son, Frankie, who has locked himself in his room. Ethan advises you that you should unlock all the doors in the house by going to his study and accepting the "Parental Access Pack". Before you can get anywhere, all the lights in the house shut off so you have to make your way to the basement and restart the generator. Trying to find the basement is a chore because you have to open a trapdoor that's very hard to find.
To make matters worse, you walk slowly because you're pregnant. Why not just let you move more quickly? This is an exploration game, after all. You can't go into Ethan's study because the door is protected by a password that you can't remember so you have to search for the infopad which can be anywhere in the house. It took me way too long to find it which was exceptionally frustrating.
Anyway, you enter Ethan's study, accept the Parental Access Pack, and make your way to Frankie's room. Frankie isn't in his bed and suddenly, apparitions appear then you hover over a strange ocean. Just getting to this point took me over an hour of wandering around the house aimlessly while looking for the basement and infopad. There's no way to look at your objectives and no map. You simply have to remember what you have to do. If you weren't listening or you just picked the game up after a break then too bad.
After floating gracefully over the ocean, you're deposited in a metallic room with a huge window overlooking the ocean. You call for the doctor, Kazumi, but he doesn't answer. There's a weird-looking void in the centre of the room and if you touch it for too long, you start floating over the ocean again. You have to watch the ocean as a shark swims by and you see a baby crib floating in the water which contains Ethan's head. Then, you have to interact with a control panel in the centre of the room next to the singularity. For me, the console wasn't that easy to see because of the bright colors. The control panel opens the door that leads to the elevator which deposits you on top of the room in the middle of the ocean. There's a floating shark and two glowing words: MINDSCAPE ERROR. Finally, Kazumi answers your call for help and you're taken out of the simulation.
There you have it: Elea has a few good things going for it. It seems like an interesting story and there's also an intriguing back-story that you can piece together by exploring the house. News stories drop a few hints that something is causing children to exhibit senseless unprovoked violence, too. However, since there's no guidance at all, it takes way too long to get anywhere. There's no map and no objective markers so even the simplest tasks were a source of frustration. I've played Elea a little more than I described in this article but it doesn't improve much. For now, I don't care to continue playing it until some improvements are implemented.
Episode 1 of Elea is currently available for Steam Early Access and will fully launch for Xbox One and Steam within a few months.