Piranha Bytes Announces Elex, A Science Fantasy RPG

Piranha Bytes — makers of the Gothic and Risen games — revealed their new and upcoming RPG at Gamescom this week. Entitled Elex, after a key resource and source of power in the game’s world and mythos, it is billed as a science fantasy RPG (that is: it blends science fiction and fantasy concepts and mechanics). GamePressure got an early look at it, and gave it a glowing report:

Elex may not be a continuation to the Gothic series, but the game looks more than able to stand on its own and should appeal to those of us aching to return to the Valley of Mines.

The first thing we notice is that the plot and the setting deviate from what we’ve seen in Gothicor Risen. The creators emphasize that the game is a blend of science fiction and fantasy (hence the name: science fantasy) set in a post-apocalyptic world. The game takes place on the planet Magalan, many years after a meteor impact almost wiped out the planet’s highly advanced civilization. Some of its members survived but, although they still have access to some salvaged technology, they are nothing more than a shadow of their former glory. On the other hand, there are people that live in harmony with the nature and get by by using nothing more than basic tools and weapons. Still, the meteor impact has left more than destruction in its wake; a new, unknown element – elex – was discovered and harnessed to produce weapons and develop magical abilities. Not without a price, unfortunately – excessive usage of the new element gradually leads the human body to degeneration and eventually transforms people into half-synthetic hybrids, devoid of any emotion. Despite its negative side effects, the demand for elex is extremely high among both populations leading to a conflict that eventually involved the game’s protagonist.

Our journey will lead us through verdant forests, gloomy marshes or even snow-covered mountains. After clearing the starting area we have the whole planet at our disposal with our only restriction being our capability to dispatch monsters roaming the world’s various locations. The world itself is a single, seamless location without any loading screens and offering us roughly 70 hours of gameplay. The planet Magalan will be populated by numerous NPCs and each one of them will have his own opinion on the current events. Human settlements will offer a variety of styles with every fraction possessing its own unique characteristics.

It sounds as though Piranha Bytes are making a go-for-broke attempt to recapture the magic of what made the first couple of Gothic games really great, without saddling the piece with some of the baggage that has accumulated in the Risen franchise (and without that series’ odd wit, as well). They’re still using their trusty game engine, which has powered the last few titles they’ve released, but it has of course received a host of updates since its last outing and thus supports all the tricks and features one would expect for a 2016 title.

That’s when Elex is projected to release, by the way: late 2016. And it will be released simultaneously on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, with all three versions being developed in-house at Piranha Bytes.

The official Elex website is live now, as well. There’s not much there yet, but it’ll be one to watch in the months to come.