In the world of puzzle platformers developers have used a number of different twists in order to make their gameplay stand out. One of the earliest twists on the typical puzzle platformer was the idea of giving players several different characters to control at the same time so you could use each character’s special abilities in order to make progress. One of the most popular early games in this genre was The Lost Vikings and a more recent game to utilize this concept was the Trine series. Today I am taking a look at another game utilizing this mechanic Greak: Memories of Azur. As a fan of puzzle platformers the game intrigued me as the idea of using multiple characters to solve puzzles has a lot of potential. On top of this the game’s style really intrigued me. Greak: Memories of Azur is a compelling adventure filled with fun combat and creative puzzle design.
Greak: Memories of Azur follows the story of three siblings Greak, Adara, and Raydel. The three siblings are members of a magical race known as Courines. The Courines have been in conflict with the Urlags for a long time, but the Urlags are starting to gain the upper hand. The three siblings have been separated and have to reunite to help the residents of a nearby settlement build an Airship to leave the area to escape the danger from the Urlag threat.
The gameplay of Greak: Memories of Azur can be mostly summed up by its two main elements: puzzle platforming and combat. Of the two elements the puzzle platforming probably plays a slightly larger role. To begin the game you will only have access to Greak, but as you progress through the game you will also eventually get to control Adara and Raydel. Each of these characters have their own special skills which the game builds puzzles around. For example Greak is more maneuverable with a double jump while Adara has a glide ability. This is just one of several special traits that each character has. With the press of a button you can switch between the characters. You will use each character’s special traits in order to open up the path so the other characters can follow them. Other puzzles involve one character being used to allow another to reach an area that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.
There were a number of things that intrigued me about Greak: Memories of Azur, but the thing that I was most interested in was the puzzle platforming elements of using three different characters and their special abilities at the same time. While there have been other games such as The Lost Vikings that have used the multiple character mechanic, I think the game really excels in this area. The puzzle mechanic on the surface is pretty simple and yet the game does a great job with it. In order to make any progress in the game you need to take advantage of each characters’ special abilities. Some of the puzzles may have multiple solutions, but most require you to use the characters’ abilities in specific ways. There is just something really satisfying about using the special ability of one character in order to open up the path for the other character(s) to join up with them.
I think a lot of the game’s success with the puzzles come from the puzzle design itself. I wouldn’t say that the puzzles are particularly difficult where you are going to be stuck staring at the screen thinking about what you need to do next. They do require you to carefully think about the characters’ special abilities though and sometimes think of unorthodox ways forward. The game does a really good job finding the right balance between not being so difficult that they are frustrating, but still giving you a sense of accomplishment when you figure them out. The level design really starts to shine when you get access to all three characters at the same time. The final section in particular really utilizes the fact that you need to use all three characters’ abilities together to make any sort of progress. If the puzzle platformer element of the game interests you at all, you likely will love this aspect of the game.
The other major element of the game is the combat. The combat in Greak: Memories of Azur is pretty similar to your typical 2D action game. Each of your characters have their own health and can take a few hits before they die. You can acquire items that heal you and you can also cook various ingredients you find in order to create food items that heal more health. If one of the characters should run out of health, you will be sent back to your last save. The three characters have their own fighting style. Greak uses a sword and is more of an agile fighter as he has a dodge and double jump to avoid enemy attacks. Adara uses ranged magical attacks. Finally Raydel is a slower but stronger melee attacker that also has access to a shield.
If you play a lot of 2D action games with combat, this element of the game is going to feel pretty familiar. This shouldn’t be seen as a complaint as despite this fact I found the combat to be quite satisfying. The three characters do control quite a bit different so you will likely have a character that you will prefer to use in combat when you have a choice. The combat is quick and fun. You need to be careful to avoid enemy attacks, but it isn’t the type of game where you need perfect timing to avoid/counter enemy attacks. The combat for the most part is moderately challenging. Each character has their own extra combat ability, but the combat mostly comes down to mashing the attack button and avoiding the enemy attacks. While the combat might not really bring anything highly original to this genre, fans of it should still really enjoy this aspect of the game.
I really enjoyed the combat with one caveat. Periodically throughout the game you will have to fight a couple bosses. In theory I liked these boss fights as they are fun and test your combat skills. They are also by far the hardest parts of Greak: Memories of Azur. The problem that I had with the boss fights is just the fact that you regularly have to control two or three characters at the same time during the fight. Basically you have full control over one of the characters and then the other character(s) try to follow your actions as best as possible. The mechanics for controlling all of the characters at the same time are fine for the most part during the puzzle platforming and combat sections against normal enemies as you don’t need the precise movement and timing that some of the boss fights require. At least for me this created some issues in the boss fights though. To have any chance of success in these boss fights, you basically need to get all of the characters into a tight group so your button presses will work for all of the characters at the same time. There was one boss fight where I could set one of the characters off to the side and just fight with one character, but for the rest of the boss fights you basically have to control all of them at the same time.
In theory I think this could have worked well for the game as it could have lead to some interesting twists to your typical boss fight as you took advantage of each characters’ special abilities. There is one boss fight where this somewhat applies, but in most cases you can choose any of the characters and approach the boss fight like any other game. This made the boss fights kind of feel like an escort mission inside of a boss fight. You need to make sure the other characters stick with your main character as while they will attack on their own, they will do nothing to defend themselves. Therefore if you don’t control all of them at the same time they will lose all of their health leading to your failure. This leads to having to keep track of three different health situations at the same time. Trying to switch to a character to have them use a health item in time during a hectic boss fight is chaotic and pretty frustrating as it was rarely successful for me. This lead to the boss fights ultimately being my least favorite part of the game as they become kind of frustrating due to failing because it is hard to control three characters at the same time. It also felt like a wasted opportunity as they could have been really good if they utilized the characters abilities better and didn’t feel like a sort of escort mission.
While the gameplay was the main thing that interested me in Greak: Memories of Azur, I was also intrigued by the game’s overall atmosphere. In addition to the gameplay, the developers knocked the atmosphere/story out of the park as well. The story is pretty simple as it is mostly about the siblings reuniting and gathering the resources needed to build the airship to escape. What I liked about it though is that the game does a fantastic job building an interesting world with a well developed backstory. Greak: Memories of Azur gives you a compelling world that you want to explore.
On top of this the game’s visual style is fantastic. The game uses a 2D hand drawn style which looks great. The style honestly reminds me a lot of a hand drawn animated movie. The characters and world in general look unique. On top of this the soundtrack is quite good at setting the mood. Greak: Memories of Azur would have still been a good game without the great visuals/setting, but they take the game to another level.
Other than boss fights being kind of a disappointment, the only other real issue I had with the game mostly had to deal with the fact that it takes a little too long to get access to all three characters. You get the second character pretty early in the game. The third character takes quite a bit longer though where it feels like they come in at the last minute. The game had to spread out the introduction of the three characters for the story and so each characters’ special abilities could be introduced to players at a good pace. The biggest problem with this just comes from the fact that the game excels the most when you have access to all three characters. With this happening so late in the game, it feels like the game could have come up with more content that could have utilized all three character together. I still really enjoyed Greak: Memories of Azur, I just think introducing the third character earlier in the game could have made it even better.
On this topic lets quickly talk about the game’s length. I have to say that I was actually kind of surprised that the game was longer than I expected. The length will depend some on how you approach the game. The game has a few side quests which you don’t have to complete, but they will add some time to the game. Whether you rush through the game or take your time will matter as well. As I took my time with the game and completed all of the sidequests, it took me longer than if someone just rushed through the game. It ultimately took me around 9.5-10 hours to complete the game. If you rush through the game you may be able to shave off a couple hours. In any case the game’s length is pretty good. I would have preferred the game to be longer especially since the final sections are probably the best of the entire game. The game doesn’t feel like it is rushed though as the story and game come to a natural end that fits the game. I do hope the developers consider making a sequel though as I really enjoyed the game and would like to see the story continued.
I had pretty high expectations heading into Greak: Memories of Azur. The game lived up to those expectations and in some ways may have even surpassed them. The standout of the game is the puzzle mechanics. The game gives you control of three different characters with each having their own special abilities to help you on your journey. The game’s puzzle design is great as it emphasizes using these different abilities together to progress. The game’s combat might not be the most original, but it is quite satisfying as well. The game’s atmosphere and story are great as well creating a compelling adventure. I wasn’t a huge fan of the boss fights mostly due to them feeling like a sort of escort mission as you are forced to control two or three characters in fights that require pretty precise timing. These can be kind of frustrating at times. I also wished the game introduced the new characters a little earlier mostly because the best sections of the game are at the end and I just wish there was more of them.
My recommendation for Greak: Memories of Azur comes down to how interested you are by the game’s premise. If you aren’t all that interested by controlling the three different characters at the same time or the overall atmosphere/theme, the game may not be for you. If the game intrigues you even a little though, I think you will enjoy Greak: Memories of Azur and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Navegante Entertainment and Team17 for the review copy of Greak: Memories of Azur used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.