PS4 Review: XEL

More than just a Xel-da clone?

XEL is a 3D action-adventure set in a sci-fi fantasy setting. Play as Reid, shipwrecked on the strange world of XEL. Without any recollection of her former life, it is up to you to unravel her past and connection to XEL. Ready your sword and shield as you explore the overworld of XEL and dive into imposing dungeons full of unforeseen threats and challenging puzzles. Throughout your journey you will make new friends and foes, 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?

At a first glance, XEL will remind you of the Zelda series, more specifically the older games like ALTTP and Link’s Awakening but can it compete with these legendary games? Not quite. It has heart and definitely has the vibes of a Zelda clone, but there’s something missing and that’s the finishing touches. It’s rough around the edges, it has numerous bugs that hold the game back as well as performance issues like framerate drops and you can really see it struggling to run on the hardware.

Considering this game launched on PC and the Switch last July, you’d have imagined that a PS4 and PS5 versions would be greatly improved. There’s also no cross-buy option here so if you want double trophy lists for the game, you’ll need to cough up twice. It’s a bit frustrating when I only have the PS4 version so I can’t tell you if the PS5 version is any better in terms of performance. I would imagine so, but it’s not a sure thing as I have seen when it comes to some games this generation.

The story itself is engaging enough and the combat is easy to get to grips with, I just wish navigating across the terrain didn’t feel as clunky or at times, even broken. I know that the developers are a very small indie team, but if they want this to compete in the same league as other Zelda games or their clones, then it will require a lot of patches to fix it up.

The Verdict

XEL looks and acts like a Zelda game, but it lacks that finesse to make it stand alongside games like it. It feels unfinished and performs pretty poorly for the hardware it’s running on. It may run better on PS5, but I can imagine that the buggy nature will still bleed through to that version for now, as well. Maybe best left till it’s patched.

Score: 5.5