Review – El Paso, Elsewhere

A game starts off with a monologue. A man with a really dark past is suffering from some paranoid delusions. He is grumpy, he is violent, and he proceeds to blast his inner demons, literally, with a pair of pistols and the ability to dive in the air in slow-motion, as if he was in a John Woo movie. In order to cope with damage, he takes pills, lots of them. He is an addict, after all. If you think I am talking about Max Payne, well, you’re just half-right. I am talking about El Paso Elsewhere, a total dead ringer for old-school Max Payne, but with a really cool, supernatural twist.

El Paso Elsewhere gameplay

Going full John Woo on a bunch of really ugly vampires.

Calling El Paso, Elsewhere as a mere Max Payne clone is a bit unfair, even though, by and large, the game looks and plays identically to the 2001 classic. The difference is the fact that the story revolves around supernatural phenomena and vampires. The protagonist of the game, a former paranormal investigator, invades a motel in El Paso in order to rescue hostages and kill the leader of an insurgency planning on destroying the world. An all-powerful vampire… who just happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Hard times.

The entire game is set in this ramshackle motel, but that’s just a half-truth. Due to the powers of the vampire coven residing within it, the motel is much larger on the inside, as the fabrics of time, space, and reality, are all being distorted by their magic. Each level is set in a motel floor, but they are quite large. You can clearly see reality being distorted by the lack of a roof, the trippy imagery on the background, and the occasional platforming section with bottomless pits. However, it’s still a bunch of corridors, and the environments are very repetitive. As trippy as this game tries to be, the level variety isn’t strong. You can shove in as many visual effects and lights as you want, but this is still an El Paso motel.

El Paso Elsewhere protagonist

I believe in you and your 1996 polygonal face.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as old-school Max Payne: third person shooting, bullet time, diving to the floor in order to look cool and jump over gaps, using pills to restore health, and an emphasis on losing your s*** the more you play the game as a nod to your declining mental health. Although, it is not very polished. The camera controls are wonky, being too sensitive, even when you reduce the meter on the pause menu, and it tends to go haywire in closed environments, especially when you’re surrounded by enemies. Given how the entire game is set in cramped motel corridors, this is a recurring issue.

El Paso Elsewhere glass

The breakproof window factory. Duh.

There is also a slight issue with the collision detection, especially with the game trying to convince you that using melee attacks is one of the best ways of getting rid of enemies. Given how they are vampires, you can one-shot them by shoving a stake into them. Stakes can be acquired everywhere, as you can collect broken pieces of wood from doors and such, and use them as weapons. This is one of El Paso, Elsewhere‘s coolest features, by the way. The issue, however, is the fact that the collision detection is all over the place: at times, you will be able to kill a foe with a stake two feet away from them, and there are times where being glued to them will cause nothing. This also means that enemies can occasionally take chunks of your health with melee attacks from a significant distance.

El Paso Elsewhere shotgun

“Cause I got vampires, but you ain’t got none, If ya come to battle, bring a shotgun”. So I brought a shotgun.

With all that said, the Max Payne-esque gameplay isn’t exactly the reason you will want to play El Paso, Elsewhere. What makes this game stand out from other titles is its really good story. Granted, it is full of inner monologues, and the similarities to its source of inspiration, even in a storytelling perspective, are blatant, but what really matters is that the plot is really freaking good. It’s almost like a character piece, even though the plot revolves around killing a vampire coven hellbent on destroying the world.

It is all backed by a spectacular sound department. With the slight exception of some very occasional cheap-as-hell sound effects, the soundtrack is excellent, with a wide assortment of blues, rap and rock songs, and the voice acting is a thing of beauty. You don’t care that the protagonist talks to himself ad nauseum. It’s some pretty good stuff, so you just end up wanting to hear more of his low-poly struggles.


Well, welcome to video games, champ.

Although I did enjoy my time with El Paso, Elsewhere, I cannot hide the fact it was plagued with some questionable gameplay decisions and repetitive visuals. You will probably play El Paso, Elsewhere not because of its janky gameplay, but because of its strong story and character development. This is some really good stuff. Even though it’s a carbon copy of old-school Max Payne, there’s a ton of love and effort put into it, especially when it comes to its protagonist’s backstory and overall character development. You just need to put up with a cavalcade of issues.


Graphics: 6.0

The game looks dated by design, but the funky animations and repetitive environments did get on my nerves after a while.

Gameplay: 6.5

It plays like a jankier Max Payne, complete with bullet time and slo-mo dives. The camera controls and collision detection are faulty, however. You can get used to the controls, but it could have been a bit better.

Sound: 9.5

No complaints. Excellent voice acting and music from beginning to end.

Fun Factor: 7.0

You will probably play El Paso, Elsewhere not because of its janky gameplay, but because of its strong story and character development. Even though it’s a carbon copy of old-school Max Payne, there’s a ton of love and effort put into it. You just need to put up with a cavalcade of issues.

Final Verdict: 7.0

El Paso, Elsewhere is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox Series S.

A copy of El Paso, Elsewhere was provided by the publisher.