Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC
Release date: September 26, 2023
El Paso, Elsewhere is a stunning tale of vampire hunting and lost love set in a bizarre roadside motel that seems to be an unlikely gateway to another dimension. The further you fall into this strange story, the more you’ll witness reality itself crumble at the feet of the suave vampire hunter James Savage.
This part-time hunter and folklore researcher is played by game director Xalavier Nelson Jr. In this action-packed single-player third-person shooter, you're tasked with taking out your former lover Draculae or Janet Drake before she destroys the known universe with her army of monsters and human sacrifices. All there is to do now is to forge onward through the collapsing motel and hordes of vampires, wolves, and mummies in the hope of stopping her before it's too late.
The story of Savage’s journey to destroy his estranged ex, Draculae, lord of the Vampires, and constant monologuing can be underwhelming at times. However, the trippy visuals and poetic script balance this out to make sure that you’re always brought back onside.
The combat does a great job at raising your blood pressure. Each level is packed full of bloodthirsty skeletal vampires, rabid werewolves, and their supernatural friends. While these enemies do pack a punch if you find yourself trapped in a corner, they won’t ever be too much to handle, thanks to the seemingly endless supply of ammo and meds on hand.
Saving human sacrifice after human sacrifice can be challenging work. So it was nice that after I saved each one, they would ask me a thoughtful question: who was going to save me? While I spent little time reflecting on it, it was nice to know someone out there was concerned about my well-being.
I didn’t conserve my ammo by any means, yet I never once found myself in a situation where I was left with no way to defend myself. The difficulty curve is slight, and this meant that - as an experienced vampire slayer - I only died once during the entire campaign, and that was when I accidentally walked off the map.
While this made my time reviewing El Paso, Elsewhere much easier, it also meant that it didn’t feel like a challenge. Almost every enemy dies within three shots, two if one is a headshot, regardless of any enemy’s perceived strength. I was slightly confused when the more powerful-looking cosmic witches died just as easily as the starter vampire monsters. James Savage seems like a tough monster hunter; I bet he could handle much more.
The various weapons handled great, and it was very satisfying to mow down waves of enemies to the electric soundtrack, which Nelson also raps on. However, this blasting became repetitive as the story progressed due to said lack of difficulty. If you’re into beautiful shoot-em-ups and don’t want a grueling challenge, then this is definitely worth giving a go, but for those who prefer a tougher time, El Paso, Elsewhere may be too straightforward.
While the combat left something to be desired, the location and visuals made up for any lackluster action. The concept itself is enough to let your imagination run wild. As you delve deeper into the mysterious and mind-boggling roadside motel turned vampire HQ you encounter a world that is imploding in on itself.
While the collapsing map can be confusing at times, it’s worth the headache just to see all the impressively kaleidoscopic visuals on offer. Wandering around backroom-esque hallways and haunted graveyards is an exciting trip into the supernatural and unknown. There’s even a bonus of each location not having a ceiling meaning you can always stare into the endless starry sky.
El Paso, Elsewhere is more of a creative project than a third-person shooter. You’ll want to sit and watch through each and every cutscene - if only to admire the cinematic shots and wallpaper-worthy sights. However, the title does sometimes suffer at the hands of its own creativity.
Too long in the coven
At first, the script stood out to me as something that has been painstakingly handcrafted and tweaked to perfection. The long monologues not only provide crucial information about your playable character James Savage, but also complement the artistic scenery with its Shakespearian tone. It covers tough themes like substance abuse in an interesting manner, constantly suggesting that this adventure might just be a one-way trip. However, the novelty of these beautiful monologues did begin to wear thin as I delved deeper into the survival horror.
After only five chapters, I began to tire of the endless soliloquies. While the concept of emotional trauma is a worthwhile topic to cover, the presence of a lengthy monologue at the beginning of every chapter (there are many of these) ensures diminishing returns.
Towards the end of my time in El Paso, Elsewhere, I unknowingly began to just tune Savage out as it was the only way I could enjoy this third-person shooter. While all the voice actors are amazing in their own right, less is definitely more when it comes to brooding dialogues in twisted vampire-infested graveyards.
The only respite from these dreary monologues were the rare dialogues scattered throughout between Savage and his old lover Draculae. These memories told a tragically beautiful story of a broken love that was destined to fall apart. They are full of emotion, lore, and humanizing qualities that make it easier to like Savage. I just wish there were more of these genuinely interesting conversations and less of the dreary monologues.
El Paso, Elsewhere is a beautifully creative third-person shooter with an interesting story and a great range of fights and mechanics. However, at times it is undone by this very penchant for creativity as it morphs from an entertaining shooter to a pretentious short film. While this could well appeal to those who prefer story games, players who are a fan of action may be left unfulfilled.
Unfortunately, El Paso, Elsewhere is seriously lacking in the accessibility settings department. Other than some basic game and control options such as sensitivity and key binding, there isn’t much here to customize the game to your liking. There are some basic subtitles which you can disable, but you can’t change the size of them.
How we reviewed
El Paso, Elsewhere was extremely smooth to play through. I encountered no bugs whatsoever while completing the action game. While I played each section in chunks, it took me just over 6 hours to complete as I tried to explore as many rooms as possible and try to collect as many items as possible.
One factor to bear in mind is that this game is described as a survival horror by some. I would disagree with the horror element, as throughout the game, I encountered nothing particularly terrifying.