Elderborn PC preview: The hack-and-slash game you never knew you needed

Have you ever wondered what a game that combines the best of Vermintide, DOOM, and Dark Souls would be like? Look no further than Elderborn, an upcoming hack-and-slash game expected to come to Steam Early Access this October. Featuring brutal melee combat with a skill-based design and a superb atmosphere, it's sure to please.

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The dance of death

In Elderborn, you have four moves: light attack, heavy attack, block, and kick. Compared to other melee-focused titles, this may sound like underwhelming variety, but Elderborn is designed to use this simplicity to great effect. Various classes of foes will attack you in different ways; for example, standard skeletons are best dispatched with multiple offensive strikes, while ones that wear armor resist damage more and should be kicked to the floor first to make hitting them easier. In many ways, it's similar to the Vermintide series.

As armies of these different types of enemies attack, you'll need to learn which of your four moves to use where and when. Heavy attacks are excellent for predictable badies but can leave you open to a quick attack elsewhere. Blocking is fantastic against a foe that attacks with speed, but keeping your guard up too long means your opponents can flank and swarm you unchecked. In this regard, Elderborn feels like a dance. There's a deadly rhythm to the flow of combat, where each button press needs to be timed and meaningful for you to succeed.

Atmospheric perfection

As if the incredibly compelling gameplay experience wasn't enough, Elderborn takes things to the next level with its extraordinary presentation factor. The environments of Elderborn are dark, dreary, mysterious, and filled with unsettling imagery. The first thing that came to mind as I was playing through the demo level at PAX West was "a slightly colorful Dark Souls;" if you like the Souls series's atmosphere, Elderborn will be right up your alley.

Related: Insider's view of PAX West

The music is just as good as the visuals, and it ranges from being creepy to making you feel like a rampaging badass. As you wander the levels and investigate the dark corridors, the journey is almost always accompanied by creepy, haunting music. Come across a mob of enemies, though, and the tone shifts — suddenly, heavy guitar riffs start to play, and you'll feel like you're playing a melee-focused DOOM as you hack your foes to pieces while dodging their own blows.

Keep Elderborn on your radar

Between the excellent melee combat and the stellar presentation, Elderborn is shaping up to be one of my most highly-anticipated games of this year, and it should be for you, too. Good melee games are somewhat rare in this shooting game era, so Elderborn is going to have a big chance to shine brightly.

There's no specific date on when the game will hit Steam Early Access, or how much it will cost, but we do expect it will be in October.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.