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6 Oct 2022

REVIEW: XEL - Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
XEL is a top-down 3D action-adventure game, set in a futuristic world, where you play as Reid, you find yourself shipwrecked on XEL, a very strange world. Of course, it goes without saying that you have no memory of your previous life, because why would you? Your job in this game is to explore the world, find out about your past, why you are here and what your connection to XEL is.

"Ready your sword and shield as you explore the overworld of XEL and dive into imposing Zelda-like dungeons full of unforeseen threats and challenging puzzles. Throughout your journey you will make new friends and foes, learn new moves, find new gadgets as well as being able to jump through time and space. As Reid delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding XEL, she discovers an endless cycle of peril. Will she be able to break free from it and what will it take?"

As you play you will soon find a sword and a shield, which will be your main weapons for attack, as you explore you can find large pillars that allow you to save your progress, as well as treasure chests, all handily marked on the map. As you explore the area and try to progress to the next, you will of course be met by creatures/robot minions that want to kill you, battles are straight forward hack and slash affairs, some enemies can fire projectiles which is where your shield comes into good use. Boss fights are as expected, learn the attack pattern, avoid the attacks, and attack back when you can.

You will also meet and interact with people who will help you on your journey, trade with you, and lead you through various areas and tasks.

Throw in puzzles to be solved, new gadgets to unlock, as well as secret paths to find, (always look behind waterfalls), and there is enough here to keep you busy for a while. Collect cores to unlock new abilities, travel through time to access areas previously inaccessible, as well as meet and ultimately destroy younger weaker versions of enemies.

Some really nice camera shifts are also a highlight, taking away from just the standard top-down view.

The Good
XEL is a relatively easy game to get into, controls are simple and quick to learn, lots to collect and upgrade, decent graphics even on the Nintendo Switch Lite, a strong sound track, and you have a very good little game here.

Boss fights are also fun.

Also worth mentioning is the well written story.

The Bad
The camera angle can sometimes be a pain, because the camera is fixed, you will sometimes find that the environment is in the way of your character, meaning you can't see them, now in general this is not a problem, but usually in games with such a camera angle, when the environment does get in the way it becomes transparent, sadly not here. I feel this is an oversight from the game makers, and there is a feeling of maybe you have missed something, when most likely you haven't

Combat is hack and slash, so not much thought is needed outside of the boss fights.

I like XEL, it is a bit buggy in parts, but nothing that will spoil the gameplay too much, the camera angle is a bit poor, especially when playing on the small screen. But overall, I enjoyed the game, the levels are well laid out, the puzzles are decent, and the map is good enough that you shouldn't get too lost.

XEL is far from perfect, and could do with a bit of tidying up, which would improve it massively, and maybe in future updates they will do just that, but for now I score XEL a fair 7/10. A good little addition to your Switch collection.

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