Element: An RTS game for people who really don’t have time for RTS games
Element (Nintendo Switch)
What a year the Nintendo Switch has had.
Despite being the least powerful console of the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft and PlayStation), I can quite comfortably say that I spent more time playing games on my Switch than I do the other consoles I own.
There are so many great reasons to own a Switch, and Element, from New Zealand developer Flightless, is another one.It’s a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.
Element’s narrative involves a space craft fleeing a decaying solar system. Arriving in a new solar system, you must visit each planet (named after elements on the periodic table, ie barium, titanium, silicon, gallium), mining enough crucial resources to ensure your survival. Sounds simple, right? Well, kind of. You see, while you’re mining for resources, enemies are doing the same thing, You’ll have to build attack and defence forces and assault the enemy while mining the planet for all you can.
Early planets like Boron offer very little challenge, with minimal enemy presence, but by the time you get to planets like platinum, the enemy threat starts increasing. Planets like iridium and neon, have well established enemies that pose a dangerous threat.
Element is a really nice fit on the Switch, with an appealing low-poly look to it and intuitive controls. Using the Switch’s touch screen, you can zoom into the action so you can get a good handle on things and strategize accordingly, and rotate around planets using the right analogue stick. After a while, you’ll find yourself rotating around a planet like an old hand, plonking down mines and defence units as you target enemy mines with missiles.
It feels a little bit Command & Conquer to me sometimes, making you think strategically before you do something while also making you think two steps ahead for potential threats.
Flightless has described Element as a real-time space strategy game for those who don’t have time for real-time space strategy games which, let’s be honest, is probably a lot of us these days. It’s the sort of game that is perfect for bite-sized gaming chunks during lunchtime or just before bedtime, letting you play through two or three planets in a session then call it quits for the night but still feel satisfied.
Update: Something that I suddenly thought about after an email exchange with Flightless director John O’Reilly was that Element would really work with a two-player network co-op mode where where each player controlled a faction. I think that would really work well with the game play in Element.
Thanks to Flightless for the Element review code