First-person games these days seem to have one of two presentations — they either feature a gun and gallons of blood, or a person walking peacefully though scenes while picking up objects. It’s easy to see that Elderborn gets its inspiration from the former, but in a twist, it takes the gun out of the equation. Instead, players will pick up a series of melee weapons to fight evil, striking, parrying, and kicking their way through an ancient Egyptian-inspired dungeon while searching for gold along the way.

In the spirit of classic FPS titles, Elderborn is a bit brutal. Players will die in one or two hits, and checkpoints are sparse at best. Enemies are relentless and deadly while wielding heavy shields, throwing spears, or agile katars. Combat is precise, and each weapon actually feels like it has weight to it — it’s easy to tell how hard a skeleton is hit when a warhammer sends it flying across the room. Having said that, combat is quick, fast paced, and arcadey — players won’t be trying to time dodges and take advantage of invincibility frames like they would in other melee-heavy games.   

While I understand the inspiration behind the soundtrack, it does feel slightly off to have Egyptian style contrasted with a heavy metal soundtrack — the effect is that of an epic slugfest against the forces of evil in a cheesy, B-movie sort of way. Having said that, I would love to stick around in this B-movie longer — the world is a joy to explore, and it’s easy to see the detail that went into each area.

Each ruin feels real — every place feels built by hand, but also eroded away by time. One part in particular — a floor crumbled underneath my feet and led me through a underground cavern into a drowned temple beneath the one above was magnificent.

Currently, the game is in early access and content is minimal — I was able to complete what’s currently present in under two hours. However, there’s a lot of potential in what I see so far, and I’m looking forward to more.

Eugene Sax
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