Elona+ Is A Wild And Weird Roguelike

In Elona+ [official site], your backpack can crush you to death. In most games, the worst that is likely to happen if you’re overburdened is a reduction in your speed but in this excessively strange Japanese roguelike, the weight will drain your health or cause you to trip, fall and break your face open as you try to navigate some stairs. It’s a game in which you can make money by busking with a grand piano but if you’re not particularly talented, don’t be surprised if your audience stones you to death.

Yes, you should be playing Elona+ and what better time than now? Version 1.49 and the relevant English translation have just been released.

If you’ve never heard of Elona, you’re in for a treat. It’s a free game that deserves a place in the great pantheon of traditional roguelikes – stranger than most of the genre and sometimes so hectic that I can’t fully parse all of the information it’s throwing at me, it’s an unusual and brilliant creation. Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM) is probably its closest relation, as they share the existence of a fixed overworld and main quest locations (as well as a puppy dungeon), but Elona is very much its own game.

You can download the latest version of the ‘plus’ modification here and the English translation – which isn’t yet complete but will tide you through tens of hours – is here. I’d strongly recommend this beginner’s guide and a few sessions with the vanilla game before moving on to Elona+ though, whether you’re new to traditional roguelikes or not. Elona’s rules are often obscure when first encountered, and it’s entirely possible to lose a character without knowing quite what you did wrong. The vanilla game is considered complete, as is the English translation, but when you’ve become accustomed to it, graduating to the ‘plus’ version is recommended.

And remember – kill every bard. It’s the right thing to do.

22 Comments

  1. namad says:

    elona+ is very much an experimental mod for the game elona… I strongly recommend “vanilla” or the actual elona for new players. Elona’s translation is complete. Mechanics are simpler and more well explained. Elona+ is full of experimental new features that aren’t translated or explains and many/all of the new q

    • namad says:

      Cat stepped on enter key, whoops, wish I could delete that firt comment: elona+ is very much an experimental mod for the game elona… I strongly recommend “vanilla” or the actual elona for new players. Elona’s translation is complete. Mechanics are simpler and more well explained. Elona+ is full of experimental new features that aren’t translated or explains and many/all of the new quests are entirely untranslated and the text choices in menus are just 1.##### 2.##### 3.#### 4.#####

      for fans of elona who understand how to play elona, elona+ is a huge and fun expansion! new players should absolutely not play elona+ before elona, you can always import a save from elona into elona+ but you cannot do the opposite!

      • Premium User Badge

        Adam Smith says:

        Aye, good point well made. I’ll put in a link to the vanilla game as well.

        • namad says:

          I had a good point, but I made like 9 typos :( most of my sentences weren’t even sentences.

  2. Mordaedil says:

    Everybody loves Shena’s ass.

    I still remember drinking from a well, getting pregnant and then suddenly an alien embryo bursts from my stomach in the first town.

    Or eating the little girl you pick as a pet because it is better than the bear.

    • namad says:

      you cannot eat your pets in elona. which is somewhat odd, because you can eat every other npc…

  3. namad says:

    the above linked beginners guide is for regular elona and leaves out tons of key pieces of information that apply only to elona+

  4. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    How many drugs should I do before running it? :D

    • Detocroix says:

      It depends. Do you, undrugged, accept that a fairy with a tommygun riding a cat is cool? I highly recommend this game if you like roguelikes. You can build and decorate houses in it too :D

      A fair warning though, Elona is much more punishing than ADOM or Nethack. Roguelikes in general are fair, but Elona isn’t.

      • namad says:

        elona is actually much LESS punishing than any of them! elona allow you to get back up and keep playing after you die. elona allows for infinite grinding of low level areas too. In adom or nethack neither is possible.

        It’s pretty easy to get discouraged early on in elona because it’s very easy to die at level 1 in combat against anything at all. At low levels though there’s not much to lose by dying, and elona features the ability to progress through the game ignoring combat if you wish.

        • Detocroix says:

          I partially disagree. I agree that Elona doesn’t have direct death as penalty, but dying in Elona is really easy. Insanely easy. The other issue in the punishingliness is that in Elona you much more rarely feel like you got something done, ADOM and Nethack are very rewarding all along which makes the death less punishing.

          ADOM and Nethack both are learnable. Elona is very random, I feel like you can partially learn it and be somewhat successful but not to an extend you can learn and succeed in ADOM or Nethack. Hard to explain as I can’t find proper words for this, sorry… In ADOM and Nethack encounters are pretty much written in stone and the level curve is really well balanced, you can’t run in to an ancient red dragon in the first areas, but in Elona you can. In Elona you can just one-shot-die in just about any part in the game.

          Another sorry for a little bit of boasting, but in ADOM I can fairly consistently reach the Tower of Eternal Flames “stage”, and maybe even get further than that. In Nethack I can lucky up myself to Medusa and almost always die there. In Elona I can almost instantly die to some random big creature that just showed up for fun :)

          • namad says:

            Maybe you mean elona is grindy? because no, elona is not that random, you can in fact know what will happen where and veteran elona players over on #elona absolutely do. You can for example see a slime or kobold and know that your level 1 character literally has no chance to beat them and just leave the area. You can feat into dimensional move at level 1 during character creation and use it to escape from enemy sprites you know are about your “danger level”. The only way this works though is if you memorize all the sprites in the game, or google their names on the wiki. That’s one of the main concepts of elona, each randomly generated level has a danger level rating that you can usually see either on the world map or the job board. If you don’t know what this means then yes dying will feel unfair, but once you do know what it means you’ll be choosing your own risks each time you embark.

            The thing about elona is that you basically have to do the easy part 1000 times longer than you do in nethack or adom, and then the medium part equally longer. There’s nothing at all that tells you this though.

            Maybe dying a lot and getting back up to try again is supposed to be a clue? but yeah if you literally just tried to run straight through the main plot of elona, you’re right, it’s literally impossible. I’m probably not even joking, straight up impossible. You’re supposed to engage with side questing to grind up a bit between main quest objectives, just like in say a JRPG. (unless you use the cursed alcohol exploit which was later patched out).

            In adom or nethack you literally cannot go to a side area and grind up because a) there aren’t really many places to do so, or there are a few but everyone does them always b) mechanics like radiation and hunger.

            In adom I used to play on telnet all the time, the furthest I ever got was the dwarven ruins. I had to get very lucky to get there. I was even worse at nethack. In Crawl stone soup I saw the orb of zot only once. In elona I’ve only ever played 4 or 5 characters in 100s of hours, because they literally cannot get gameovers. You can’t build a character wrong in elona, no matter how ineptly you build your strategy you can always just grind more to get more powerful to make the next section easier.

            Based on what you wrote though, I 100%, suggest you do not play elona+ yes elona+ reduces the costs of training new skills, and adds some cool new early game monsters and feats… the bulk of the elona+ content is literally 100 times grindier than the vanilla base elona game already was (all the extra post game dungeons and monsters and methods of training)!

          • namad says:

            Ancient red dragon in the first area is also flat out something that doesn’t happen in elona either. OoD spawns (“out of depth” which other roguelikes also have) are maxed out around double the level’s base danger level. Miscasts can summon dangerous enemies anywhere as the danger level of the summon is based on the strength of the miscast, usually reading a forbidden tome of powerful magic. You’d have to stumble into a mid-game quest/job/dungeon that is usually labeled as such to even have a chance to spawn such a red dragon even as an OoD enemy.

            For me tome4 has the most annoyingly bullshit out of no where random out of depth spawns.

  5. Telkir says:

    Aw, no relation to the desert region of the Guild Wars world, then?

    Looks brilliantly bonkers, just as you’d expect a roguelike coming out of Japan to be. I’ll have to give this a run sometime when I’m bored of having my innards handed to me by Tales of Maj’Eyal.

    • namad says:

      Elona – Eternal League of Nefia

      so it might be related to other things called “nefia” absolutely not related to other things called elona though I bet?

  6. Kaeoschassis says:

    It’s been years since I last had a look at Elona. It’s… interesting, definitely. It’s not what I’d play if I’m in the mood for a ‘serious’ roguelike, I guess? But I’m not a diehard traditionalist and Elona’s brand of outright fecking insanity is, I recall, amazing for blowing off steam while still presenting a fun and meaningful challenge. Don’t think Elona+ was even around when I last dived in. I think I’ll get re-acquainted with vanilla and then work up.

  7. Benkyo says:

    namad said above that Elona is grindy and “you have to have to do the easy part 1000 times longer than you do in nethack or adom, and then the medium part equally longer”.

    Sounds like they replaced the best aspect of (most) roguelikes and replaced it with the worst aspect of jRPGs. I’m always interested in good roguelikes, but is there any reason to try this if namad’s comments are correct?

    • namad says:

      you can go fishing, then cook a masterpeice sashami at the town’s bakery. or offer the fish as a gift to the god of luck and eventually in return receive a mystical black cat angelic servant to do battle for you in combat. which of course means you can then use pokeballs to capture a fire dragon and then take both pets to the gene splicing center and merge them together.

      or instead keep both, enter them in a tournament, watch and see how they do, rank up as a pet trainer for increased fame and salary. Buy a horse, ride a dragon, ride a knight, ride a little girl. Shoot a machine gun that stops time, attack with a sword the fills the screen with dragons and explosions that are hostile to you.

      or you know, none of that! why not kill the big daddy from bioshock and then rescue the little sister that spawns upon it’s death? or if you’d rather just murder her and eat her corpse for a powerful boost to hp/mp!

      one of the things that makes elona so fun is the endless references and features of things you can do. you can attempt a non-combat run as a harpsicord player who avoids combat and tries to get rich playing music at parties (although this is actually more dangerous and deadly than most combat).

      a lot of the tension in elona is missing. absolutely. elona is not meant for each run to take an hour or four. if you like the idea of roguelikes and the idea of jrpgs but can’t really stand the permadeath of the roguelike or the sameness of the grinding in jrpgs, elona works to solve both problems.

      • namad says:

        or hey start a ranch, a farm, your own shop, open your own musuem, murder the citizens of the major towns for their unique collectible cards which you can then show off at the musuem for profit. get murdered by the policeforce for not paying your taxes. build a snowman out of snow.

        alien infestations, or in elona+ werewolfs that are an homage to the mafia spinoff forum game about werewolfs.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I’ve learned that little girl egg omelets are a thing in this game. I think I’ve been on the Internet too long, because this made my day.

    • Detocroix says:

      I do think it’s worth it. Though I dislike the basic challenge curve and the randomness of the game, it’s still my fourth favorite roguelike. It’s absolutely worth experiencing because of how different it is :)

      My top three are ADOM, Dungeons of Dredmor, and Nethack.