In the endless pursuit to find games that will entertain us for hours there are times when a game sort of falls in your lap. This was the case with Effie. There was no warning it was just there as if it appeared out of thin air. Okay, enough with the theatrics. That is not what we are about here, right? The story of Effie begins with Galand talking to well, Effie, a little girl that is ready to hear the tale of adventure. It begins with Galand refusing to help a lady with her overturned cart because apparently he is extremely lazy. Galand is strong, young, and prone to turning little ladies away. This is the fun humor that the game uses throughout and it’s even used with visuals. More on that later. So, where were we? Yes right, Galand refused her but unbeknownst to him she was the powerful witch Melira who was not all too happy about being turned away. Melira decided as punishment she would take away Galand’s youth and turn him into an old man. Justice has been served!
Of course the punishment was a tad extreme so Galand went to the Temple of the Protective Elders where he asked for his youth to be restored. The elders said nay because they was unsure if Galand had a kind heart and they certainly couldn’t help him if his heart was not kind. Whatever could Galand do to earn their trust? The elders tell Galand that if he frees the plains of Oblena from the evil witch then that will prove his heart to be kind. He agrees but before he departs he is given a magical shield that will help him along his journey. This is where the fun really begins.
The classic 3-D adventure game starts off by helping you learn what it expects of you. Running, jumping, solving puzzles and defeating all types of creatures throughout Oblena will be on your way to freeing the surrounding cities. Three cities in all but that isn’t the only thing residing in Oblena. There are areas that appear to be infested with baddies and if you so choose you can surf right up there and kick them out. Wait, did I just say surf? Sure did. The quickest way to get around the plains is by surfing on your magical shield. It felt like it was paying homage to certain classic platformers here while keeping it as its own as well. Surfing through the red fields is a blast as you can speed up and then speed up even more by using boosts. The boosts are spread out across the land and shine bright as they tempt you with a good time. Even better there are jumps added and I will admit I probably spent too much time with this part of the game.
If you are a trophy hunter and a treasure hunter then it will pay to explore the land as chests are bound to be in those areas. You might also want to pick up all the stone things laid out everywhere as that is how Galand levels up. You will need this by games end. Trust me on this one. If you can pry yourself away from the plains then the cities await. There you will be tested in not only battle prowess but your puzzle solving skills along with traversing some tricky situations. The fighting in Effie is done great and as you progress through the game you pick up new skills by activating stone shrines in the cities to help you combat tougher enemies.
At first you have the basic light and heavy attack but soon Galand will be able to use his shield like a boomerang. I absolutely loved using this skill. Get in a bind, use the boomerang. Surrounded by enemies with no way out? Use the boomerang. Not only is it effective but it looks so cool using it. You can dash and smash enemies with your shield or use a ground pound that is pretty devastating and they all work fantastic. Galand can also use the shield to conjure a magic force field around him that will protect him from incoming attacks but who needs that when you can use it as a boomerang?
While the combat is fun and challenging the puzzle solving can be considered the same. As the game progresses puzzles get harder and areas become more difficult to maneuver. Jumping from platform to platform quickly becomes jumping from a moving object while dodging gigantic saw blades. It really is a hoot. Did I just say hoot? Never mind. The puzzles are a mixture of moving objects to a certain place or it can be pulling switches in a particular order. All are designed well with some being more challenging than others. Keep an eye out on some puzzles though because the answer to solving it might not be directly in your line of sight.
What stood out in Effie was how well it all worked together. In a platformer such as this one if the response time doesn’t work well then the game fails. You need it to work so you can get those precise jumps to pay off. Some games attempt at this only leaves you with frustration but with Effie I’d call it a success.
The design and layout of Effie actually surprised me as the game went on. My first impression was that it wasn’t that impressive. That quickly changed as did the game. The beginning of the game gives you the sense things could be a little bland within the world but I now realize it was warming you up for what was to come. The open world of Oblena is the turning point and it was definitely one of my favorite parts of the game. The colors are so vibrant and everything stood out on my screen. The fluid motion of watching Galand surf across the land on his shield was done so well I didn’t want to stop most of the time. Finding little camps filled with enemies only added to the fun. You can ride by and scope out the area until you are ready to hop off your shield and kick some tail. The best part, it looks so cool even with the classic appearance.
The character models have that same feel and it was neat to see how they fit into each environment. Another part of Effie that was certainly an emphasis was the changing environment in each city. Whether it was a city of windmills full of moving obstacles or a city of purple grape juice the change of scenery brought with it a new sense of purpose. Simply put each city seemed to breathe new life and it was awesome.
With each new puzzle, each new obstacle to cross or each new key to find I found myself lost in a world of enjoyment. When level design is done well with jumps, traps or whatever it may be it can only make you want to play through completion. Add all that with a quirky sense of humor and it’s a delight. For instance, in a corridor I found this little fellow passed out from what I am assuming was too much grape juice. The laughter belted out and all I could think was, “I have to take a screen shot of this,” and so I did.
Effie by Inverge Studios is a game that took me by surprise. Honestly I wasn’t expecting too much when I first started playing the game but it didn’t take long to change my mind. From surfing across the red plains to battling creatures in the depths of dungeons, Effie works on so many levels. Galand isn’t much of a loveable character in the beginning but by games end he was one of my favorites. It’s not just a story about a man regaining his youth. It’s a story about redemption and what you are willing to go through to get it. The character design, levels, puzzles and obstacles work fantastic and for such a small development team that’s a testament of how much love they put into this title. The game doesn’t overstay its welcome in length and before you know it you might just be pondering over another play through.
Priced at $19.99 if you like classic platformers then I recommend giving this one a go. Be warned. That last chapter is a tough one.
A review copy of the game was provided for the PlayStation 4.