Growing up one of my favorite video game genres was the platformer. When I was still pretty young the platforming genre started transitioning from 2D to 3D. While a lot of early 3d platformers weren’t very good, there were some good games including the Mario and Crash Bandicoot franchises. This continued into the PS2 era where we got games like the Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank series. I bring this all up because the game I am looking at today, Effie, was made as an homage to the classic era of 3D platformers. The developers specifically mentioned that they were inspired by Rayman 3, Jak & Daxter, and Ratchet & Clank. As I loved platformers from that era I was really interested in seeing how well the game would do in recreating that era. Effie is a really fun and charming old school platformer that unfortunately is a little too easy and short to reach its full potential.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Inverge Studios for the review copy of Effie 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.
The tale of Effie follows the story of Galand. After failing to help an old lady who needed help, Galand is cursed by a witch with premature aging. The curse takes hold quickly as he is suddenly transformed into an old man. While seeking out help to reverse the curse, Galand learns that he must defeat the witch that is spreading evil throughout the kingdom of Oblena if he wants the curse to be lifted. To help him on his journey he is gifted a magic shield to defeat the forces of evil. Will Galand be able to bring peace back to the kingdom of Oblena and in the process restore his youth?
Effie took inspiration from late 1990s and early 2000s platformers, and you can tell almost immediately. At its core the game is a combination of a platformer, action brawler/fighter and a puzzle game. As the mechanics have their own unique impact on the gameplay, lets take a look at each mechanic individually.
I will begin with the platforming as that is by far the biggest mechanic in the game. The platforming is basically what you would expect out of a game from the era that Effie is trying to emulate. The game gives you a double jump and a dash ability. With these two abilities you need to jump between platforms in order to progress towards your destination and avoid hazards. In addition to progressing the story you also use the platforming to reach runes scattered all over the levels. These runes are used to increase your health and energy used for the combat’s special abilities.
Basically if you have ever played a late 1990s or early 2000s platformer, you know what to expect from this aspect of the game. The developers did a really good job replicating the platformers that the game took inspiration from. This means that the game doesn’t really introduce any new platforming mechanics. It doesn’t really need to though as it does such a great job bringing you back to an earlier era for the platforming genre. While playing Effie it felt like it would have fit in perfectly with Playstation 2 era platformers outside of the upgraded graphics. I had a lot of fun with the platforming mechanics. Fans of these type of platformers will probably really enjoy Effie as it will bring back a lot of fond memories.
Lets move onto the combat. Like the platforming the combat is pretty reminiscent of the era that Effie is trying to emulate. In the game you are given a magic shield. This shield can be used like a normal shield which places a bubble of protection over Galand. This is a limited ability as it drains your energy. You also use the shield to attack enemies. The game has a light and heavy attack (both melee attack). Later in the game you also acquire two more powerful attacks that use your energy. The combat is mostly used to break up the platforming sections. Scattered throughout the world there will be enemies to defeat. There will also be some times where you are locked in an area and have to destroy all of the enemies before you can proceed.
While I liked the nod to nostalgic platformers, the combat could have used a little update. The combat is not bad but it is a little basic and can get a little repetitive. Like a lot of games from the era the game is emulating, the combat revolves around a lot of button mashing. You basically keep hitting the two attack buttons while occasionally using your shield and dash/jump to avoid attacks. Unlike more modern games there is no lock on feature. At the beginning of the game the combat can be a little challenging as you don’t have a lot of health/energy. If you spend the time to collect the runes though the combat quickly becomes really easy as you will have way more health and energy than you will ever need. I had some fun with the combat as I don’t mind the occasional button masher. The combat is repetitive though and it probably won’t appeal to people that have never been fans of button mashers.
The final branch of the gameplay is the puzzle solving. I am not going to sugarcoat it, the puzzle solving is really basic. Basically all of the puzzles revolve around figuring out the order of when to press buttons/pull levers. Maybe it is because I play a lot of puzzle games, but I didn’t really find any of the puzzles to be very challenging. I think the longest I spent trying to solve any of the puzzles was a couple minutes. Most of the difficulty came from actually figuring out what the puzzle was about. Once I figured that out, I pretty much solved the puzzles immediately. Like the other two mechanics this seemed reminiscent of the era that the game was trying to recreate. The puzzles in these older platformers were always pretty basic.
Now that I have broken down the three main mechanics, lets move onto the overall game. For the most part Effie is broken down into different levels/cities. The basic goal in each city is to reach the target area. This is accomplished by moving through various areas of the city by jumping between platforms, defeating the enemies that stand in your way, and solving simple puzzles. When you reach your destination you have a boss fight against the witch. Unless the game has a surprise twist the game appears to have four cities to explore along with a tutorial area.
Outside of the cities the game also has an open world area that you traverse between the cities. To travel this area you can turn your shield into a hoverboard. In addition to traveling between the different cities, this open world area holds several small points of interest with different platforming and combat challenges. The main reason to explore the open world is to find additional runes to improve your abilities as well as find hidden collectibles. These collectibles are scattered around the open world and a couple are hidden in each city. These collectibles mostly just add a little background information to the story along with giving players some additional gameplay as they try to search them out.
In addition to the gameplay, I think Effie does a good job with the story and theme. Basically the story is told through the eyes of a man telling a young girl of his adventures. While this premise has been used by other video games/movies, I think the story is pretty cute/charming. I especially like how it is heavily inferred that the narrator is exaggerating things in order to make himself look better. The story might not be the most original but it is hard to deny that it is really charming. This is supported by the game’s really interesting world and enemy design. Basically if you are a fan of old “mascot” platformers, I think you will really enjoy the game’s story and atmosphere.
Being a fan of older 3D platformers I was a little skeptical of Effie at first. This was mostly because a lot of indie platformers don’t do a great job recreating old platforming games. For the most part I think Effie does a great job though. I had a lot of fun playing Effie, and I would like to see Inverge Studios consider making a sequel as I would like to continue exploring the world created in Effie. If you are a fan of these type of platformers, I think you will really enjoy Effie as well. Unfortunately there are three issues that keep Effie from being as good as it could have been.
I have alluded to this several times already, but Effie is not a particularly challenging game. Maybe it was just because I have played a lot of games from this genre, but I didn’t find the game to be very difficult. If you are looking for a hardcore platformer Effie is not going to be it. Basically Effie feels like more of a family game that children and adults can enjoy. The platforming, combat, and puzzles just aren’t that difficult. Outside of a few one hit kills, I think I might have died one time in the entire game. The easy difficulty doesn’t make Effie a bad game as it means that the game can work for children and more casual players. If you are looking for a real challenge though you will probably be a little disappointed.
The next issue I had with the game is that it can be on the short side unless you spend your time fully exploring the world. As I said before the game has basically five cities worth of content to play through. I would say that on average each city took me around an hour or two to complete. I fully explored the cities though trying to pick up all of the runes and collectibles that I could find. If you are going to just do the bare minimum the cities will take quite a bit less time to complete. Outside of the cities you can also explore the open world to try and find all of the collectibles. I think this should add at least a couple hours to the game. Ultimately if you only do the bare minimum I think the game will only take around five or so hours. If you spend the time exploring though I could see the game taking around 10-15 hours.
The final complaint I have with the game is a couple minor annoyances/inconveniences. First the audio can get quite repetitive at times. The voice acting is not bad, but it gets repetitive pretty quickly. The game uses the same sound effects and voice clips over and over again. After a while it got kind of annoying hearing Galand say the same things over and over again. The other minor issue is that the load times can be kind of long at times. This is probably due to the game loading large sections of the game at a time. For example once the game loads the open world there is no additional loading until you enter one of the main cities. Once you enter one of the cities you will have to wait for it to load, but then there is no more loading for the rest of the level (unless you die). This is generally a good thing. It does get a little frustrating though when you die due to a one hit kill, and then have to wait so long for the level to load again.
The developers of Effie were trying to recreate platformers from the late 1990s and early 2000s with Effie and for the most part succeeded. Basically the game feels like it was taken directly from that era with a new paint job to remain relevant against modern games. At its heart the game is a platformer. The game doesn’t really add any unique platforming mechanics, but it does a good job recreating what worked with older platformers. The combat is decent even though it can get a little repetitive with it basically being a button masher. The puzzles are also kind of basic. All of these mechanics combine together to create a fun and charming experience. Anyone who is a fan of 1990s/2000s platformers should really enjoy Effie. The game is on the easy side though where it feels like more of a kids game at times. The game is also on the shorter side if you don’t spend the time to explore and find the collectibles.
My recommendation for Effie comes down to your feelings on 1990s/2000s platformers. If you don’t really care for them, Effie won’t be for you. People that are looking for an old school 3D platformer though should enjoy the game quite a bit. I know I enjoyed playing Effie and would recommend people who enjoy these type of games to check it out as well.