After playing El Paso, Nowhere I was pretty excited to see where El Paso, Elsewhere would take the story and gameplay. It’s a cool idea, and an awesome visual style that’s a nod to retro games – specifically looking like something you would play on Nintendo 64. It has a lot of good things going for it – unfortunately, it suffers from mediocre gameplay.
El Paso, Elsewhere is a third person shooter that’s a strange melding of Max Payne and retro action horror games. It’s oozing with style, has a fantastic voice over and an awesome soundtrack that lends itself to mowing down hordes of vampires, werewolves, biblically accurate angels, and other supernatural creatures.
You play as a hard-boiled protagonist that fell in love with the wrong woman. And she turns out to be the Lord of the Vampires. One day she decides to rip a hole through reality, and one three story Texas motel is turned into a trippy (and crumbling) labyrinth full of monsters and people to rescue. To get through these monsters you’ll need stakes, guns, and lots of ammo. And also painkillers that you gulp down prodigiously in one of many nods to Max Payne. There’s even a “bullet time” (we don’t call it that anymore, right?) style slowdown effect you can use while diving all dramatically. It’s all very cool.
It’s just not very fun.
If I could recommend El Paso, Elsewhere on style points alone, I absolutely would. However, it’s just not very fun to play. I remember after my first session I looked at the playtime expecting to see hours played, only to be surprised to find out I’ve been exploring El Paso, Elsewhere’s trippy motel for only 30 minutes. Oh man.
There are a laundry list of things wrong with El Paso, Elsewhere, but I want to start with its enemies. There was a time when enemy AI in video games seemed to be getting better, but now I play so many games where enemies’ most sophisticated behavior is to run right towards me. Sometimes developers can get away with that, especially with satisfying gunplay. However, guns in El Paso, Elsewhere just don’t feel very impactful. To make it worse, early on ammo is extremely scarce. I spent many levels just running away from enemies. Why the hell can I do all of these cool dives if I don’t have the ammo to kill things? This gets better once you start getting more guns, but it leaves a bad first impression.
The level design in El Paso, Elsewhere is just awful, too. I don’t mean just aesthetically, but in layout. It’s intentionally labyrinthine, but in the worst way. There is also too much reliance on having to collect items or find keys to progress. All while shooting enemies that (mostly) run at you in a straight line. It also doesn’t help that most of the floors in El Paso, Elsewhere look almost identical with little change. I get it–it’s the same, nightmarish location. After its initial shock value, though, it’s extremely boring.
I might seem to be overly harsh about El Paso, Elsewhere. This one hurts me. It’s just so damn cool. I wish I could recommend it just for the voiceover work done for the main protagonist, and the great soundtrack. However, a game is only as fun as its gameplay–and El Paso, Elsewhere also felt like a chore to play.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review