Whether it be remakes, remasters or retro consoles, everything old seems to be new again in 2019. Now more than ever, gamers want to relive their childhood experiences through the lens of the latest technology. With so many game choices that pay tribute to bygone eras, it can be hard to know where to start. A good retro inspired game looks and plays the part of its predecessors while implementing modern touches to keep things accessible. This brings me to The Adventures of Elena Temple, a retro inspired platformer that you might mistake for a game from your childhood.
While there are two main game modes, it really feels like one and a half. “Chalice of the Gods” is what I consider the main game. You play as Elena and must navigate room after room in search of coins, diamonds and hidden scrolls. Standing in your path are perilous obstacles and fearsome foes that can instantly kill you. You are armed with a pistol but can only shoot up to two bullets. If you run out you must pick up ammo that is typically laying about. Should you waste the ammo in a given room, you can always exit and return to find it has respawned. Should you die, you will immediately respawn without much consequence. You can die as many times as you’d like and there will never be a game over screen. The only consequence a player will face is at the end of the game when all your stats are totaled and medals are awarded. I love this gameplay decision because for the amount of times I died, I would have gotten frustrated if the player was only given a certain number of lives. There are three secret scrolls to find in Chalice of the Gods mode. One will show all treasure chest locations, the other shows all secrets and the most helpful I felt will check off each individual room as you clear it completely. The in-game timer for my first playthrough was just over two hours, but I was definitely in no rush.
The Golden Spider game mode is much more compact than Chalice of the Gods, but varies in its gameplay. Scattered across the map are pedestals and magical crystals that must be united. Spot the crystal, pick it up and return it to the pedestal without dying (otherwise it goes back to its original location). Adding to the challenge are many platforms that alter between invisible and visible each time you jump. Meaning you must plan your jumps ahead of time and really pay attention to the patterns. This mode won’t take nearly as long to complete and was a nice inclusion for a budget game that could have gotten by without it.
You might have noticed from the screenshots that there are a handful of different filters for the game. There are 7 in all and they are inspired by classic consoles of the past such as Game Boy or Apple desktops. You can switch them at any point during gameplay with the RB button and also zoom in and out. Zooming in fills the entire screen with the game while zooming out will add what appears to be a real life background. I preferred playing through the NS-BOS filter and completely zoomed in, but it won’t take long for you to spot the one that’s most appealing. Graphically, what you see in screenshots is what you get; the game is supposed to be retro-inspired and it looks the part. The music has a chiptune feel to it that compliments the tone of the experience nicely. I never had an issue with the controls, which is very important in any platformer game.
The achievements are a mixed bag as far as difficulty, with I would say 80% being quite do-able and the remaining 20% very challenging. Easier achievements are for progression, finding secret scrolls and 100% completion of rooms, coins, etc. The more challenging achievements task you with completing the game under 40 minutes, shoot less than 100 bullets, die 20 times or less and kill no more than 20 enemies. They are nothing impossible and all have been unlocked by gamers with early access, it will likely take some practice and planning for those who are dedicated to that completion.
I typically don’t request $4.99 games like The Adventures of Elena Temple for review. My feelings are usually that for such a low price, I’d rather support the developer and save myself the work of writing a review. But when solo Romanian developer GrimTalin reached out to me and asked for a review, I couldn’t refuse. Elena Temple accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, create a retro style game that you might actually mistake as being 25 plus years old. At such a low price there is absolutely no reason for fans of platformers and all things retro to not take the plunge. Achievement hunters can earn a healthy chunk of gamerscore within a few hours as well. I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing where Elena Temple’s next adventure takes me…