John Cooney, head of development at Armor Games, has done it again. The creator of brilliant Flash games such as Exit Path, Corporation Inc and Treadmillasaurus Rex has come up with another game that is set to become an instant classic. I would even go as far as saying that Elephant Quest is John's best game yet.
Elephant Quest is John's first foray into the role-playing style of game. You will probably know this genre for its over-reliance on Lord of the Rings-inspired fantasy settings and characters. But don't expect to be playing as an elf, dwarf or human in this game. John loves nothing more than reinventing game genres (as testified by what he has done to the platform genre with games like Achievement Unlocked) and has foregone the traditional fantasy setting, opting instead for a world of cute elephants, one of whom you play.
That is not the only way the game differs from your standard RPG fare. Rather than wielding a sword or bow, your Elephant has at its disposal a laser which is controlled using your mouse. You use the laser to wipe out the many nasty critters you encounter while exploring the extensive game-world. This is not a small game. There are no less than 42 different locations to find and explore, including caves and forests. Thankfully, Elephant Quest comes with a map to help you avoid getting hopelessly lost.
Each location is like a level in a platform puzzle game. In typical platformer fashion, you will need to jump between gaps, while avoiding landing on spikes and fighting off the evil creatures that after your blood. Many of the levels include special items such as balloons and teddy bears that you need to collect to complete quests given to you by your Elephant friends. You will also find the occasional coloured key that can be used to open locked doors that barred access to certain locations.
As you progress through game, you earn experience points, largely by killing enemies. After you gain enough experience points, you level up. Each time you level up, you can decide to increase one of your Elephant's base skills: intelligence, charisma, agility and dexterity. And when you have boosted each skill high enough, your Elephant gains a new ability or upgrade.
Improving agility, for example, will allow you to jump higher. Boosting intelligence helps you to aim your weapon better. And ratcheting up dexterity makes your weapon more powerful. My favourite skill is charisma. Once it has increased enough, you gain a little companion who follows you round, helping you to fight off enemies. You can gain up to four such followers.
The powers and upgrades you gain by levelling up are absolutely vital if you want to complete the game. Elephant Quest is not a hard game but there are certain locations where you will be killed almost instantly unless you are at a high level. Other locations cannot even be accessed if, for example, you have not boosted your jumping ability enough. You might therefore need to do the occasional bit of grinding to improve your attributes but never so much that the game becomes boring or tedious.
Elephant Quest is typical of John's work. It takes the best aspects of multiples genres - action, RPG, platforming, adventure - and fuses them together to create something that is ridiculously fun to play. We cannot recommend Elephant Quest enough. Play it here.