As a love letter to one of the most overlooked 8-bit classics (Zelda II), gamers familiar with Link's second adventure will immediately recognize similarities between the 1987 action-adventure game and Ansimuz Games' Elliot Quest.
To start out, Elliot isn't very strong. He's armed with a bow and arrow which is his only option to defend himself against the wide array of enemies on the island. He also starts with only three heart containers so you'll want to take things slow and avoid damage whenever possible. Fortunately, you'll come across plenty of new items, abilities, and potions as you progress through the journey. You'll also gain experience for each baddie that you kill and when you level up, you can choose one attribute to upgrade. This includes being able to fire your bow farther and faster, cause more critical damage, and improve your health recovery abilities. Every time you die, you will lose a good chunk of experience points so you'll definitely want to do your best to stay alive.
Elliot Quest features side-scrolling combat and platforming which is very similar to the gameplay of Zelda II but with a bow and arrow instead of a sword. There's even a zoomed-out overworld to explore complete with towns, caves, a vast desert, and plenty of secrets to find. You'll navigate around the world using this map then choose your destination and enter the side-scrolling portions.
Elliot Quest's enemies are diverse and powerful and the variety of them is one of the most impressive aspects of the game. The first time you encounter a new enemy, you'll probably take a bit of damage as you figure out their patterns and the best way to defeat them. As you fight it several more times, you'll start to memorize their moves and confidently dispatch it without too much of a headache. There are also more than a dozen bosses scattered around the world (not always in dungeons) so you'll regularly face off against some major opponents. As you acquire new items and spells that allow for things like double jumping and casting fireballs, traversal becomes much simpler. You may have to make a long trek across the desert to get to the second dungeon but you can unlock a shortcut for future use. This helps cut down the time spent backtracking to an extent and encourages exploring old areas with your new abilities.
Elliot Quest is true to its retro roots for better and worse. One of the more dated aspects is that it doesn't provide you with many navigational hints. The layout of the map suggests the direction you should go somewhat but I ran into at least two or three different instances when every single forward path was blocked by an obstacle. This meant that I was missing an item from somewhere and required some serious backtracking to figure out which location now had a new section open for me. Retro gaming purists will love the forced exploration but more modern (and less patient) players will probably be frustrated and feel like they're wasting time searching every nook and cranny to figure out where they're supposed to go. Speaking of retro, the graphics don't always pop the way pixel art games sometimes do. Overall, the look is very clean and functional but many of the sprites are simply unexciting. The landscapes and backgrounds look quite a bit better at least and the soundtrack is absolutely wonderful.
Elliot Quest is a fun and challenging throwback to gaming of long ago and will appeal mostly to those with nostalgia for classic action-adventure games. A familiarity with Zelda II will definitely help you appreciate many of the finer details.
- + Lots of enemy types and rewarding spells, items, and upgrades to find
- + Wonderful Zelda II vibe
- + Great music
- - Count on backtracking and exploring if you don't want to use a guide
- - Pixel art is nothing to write home about