Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: El Paso, Elsewhere

The story takes place in, you guessed it, El Paso, Texas. More specifically, El Paso, Elsewhere takes place in some kind of astral world-between-worlds that happens to be in the basement of a hotel in El Paso, where a vampire queen seeks otherworldly power. Your job is to shoot, stab, and dive roll in slow motion your way through a horde of thralls, freeing any mortals who may still be alive. 

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

Max Payne but horror. A great idea. The horror genre is perhaps the greatest conduit of new and creative ideas, but let us not forget the good ideas that came before, if maybe from alternative genres. Who can forget the Red Dead Redemption zombie DLC, Undead Nightmare? Probably just about everyone, but I recall the idea of taking a non-horror game and adding scary elements was both novel and fun. So it is too in El Paso, Elsewhere

El Paso, Elsewhere may not be a bone-chilling terror type of game, but it still takes a classic third-person shooter and elevates it to new heights by adding werewolves and vampires. The gameplay mechanics are largely the same, yet the feel of the gameplay is remarkably dynamic in new and interesting ways. Nobody in Max Payne traditionally would leap 20 feet in the air to pounce on you, if memory serves. 

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

The mechanics are pretty much Max Payne but with the addition of a melee button to stake foes who get too close. Everything else in El Paso, Elsewhere is about the same. A pocketful of various firearms, a bottle full of painkillers, just enough bullets to get through one more firefight, and a horde of people trying to make sure you don’t reach the end. Despite the constant stream of opiates into the protagonist’s system, El Paso, Elsewhere is most assuredly an adrenaline rush. 

What Works:

El Paso, Elsewhere, in taking the gameplay of a timeless classic, is an incredibly fun game. Who doesn’t like slow-motion dives while shooting wave after wave of vampires, ghouls, and ghosts? Indeed, giving it a new setting freshens up a game now 22 years old. The paranormal setting is a great opportunity to explore Max Payne but if you were fighting monsters instead of mobsters. There’s not much to say, it’s just good clean fun. 

What Doesn’t:

As previously stated, El Paso, Elsewhere is not exactly scary, so if you were hoping for truly terrifying Max Payne, you may have to wait. The most anxiety comes from simply finding yourself overwhelmed by enemies, which is not a bad thing, but perhaps some more dire horror elements could make the experience a little more frightening. I played the two levels on the demo, so it is possible that there is more to come, but as it stands, the game could use more monsters, and possibly some more horror-themed weapons too.

How To Fix It:

The game, as is, is great and if the remainder of the levels in El Paso, Elsewhere are Max Payne with thralls, I will be perfectly satisfied. But if the developers are looking for some more horror elements to add, the game could be considerably scarier. One possibility would be a Nemesis-style enemy, someone who can’t be killed but may appear in the level and stalk about. Those are always a good time. Another would be some new additions to the arsenal, maybe some vampire-hunting-themed ones. A Van Helsing-style crossbow, a holy crucifix, maybe even swap out the Molotov cocktail for a holy water grenade? All thematically appropriate additions to our hero’s arsenal. 

Wanky Musings:

Even being a reimagining of Max Payne, the game has created new story elements to suit the current day. El Paso, Elsewhere dares to ask, would you relapse on pills to save the world? As many know, a key tenet of Max Payne is the hero consuming a heroic and definitely lethal dose of painkillers. Unlike Max, however, our protagonist here once had a little over six months off the stuff, before being forced back in. After all, if you’re going to take on a vampire apocalypse, you can’t afford to be distracted by the pain of being occasionally mauled. 

That’s what I liked most about El Paso, Elsewhere. It wasn’t a copy of Max Payne, just heavily inspired by it. There are so many possibilities for titles to take gameplay from one genre and place it in a horror game. And wouldn’t it be fun if the reverse was true? Imagine Silent Hill, but amidst the haunting otherworldly town, the game was about growing a prosperous farm. Genres are not set in stone and are as fluid as they need to be, and when they mix, the result can be fantastic. 

You can wishlist El Paso, Elsewhere on Steam by clicking here.