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One of the many nebulous concepts that spring up when writing about games is “a sense of place”. We talk about worlds and locations and settings, but often these boil down to unusual geography or art direction surface details and imagery rather than a real identity.
Gothic, by contrast, wasn’t particularly pretty. Its setting wasn’t the singular underground world of Arx Fatalis, nor the varied alien landscape of Morrowind. Instead, Piranha Bytes recognised back in 2001 that a place is a place not because of its landscape or biome or buildings, but because the people there make it one.
Most RPGs have NPC traffic. Gothic had a society>.
“Eclectic, Lavish, Exhilarating, Xenial”, was how Risen and Gothic developers Piranha Bytes described their forthcoming post-apocalyptic open world RPG ELEX [official site] when they announced it last year. I reckon they were being purposefully tongue-in-cheek, but either way we didn’t have all too much to go on back then beyond the initial idea.
Fast forward the better part of a year, and a website overhaul, a load of new info and a fresh “mood” trailer now offer us a better understanding of what it’s all about. Observe: