Capsule Review: Effie

A 3D platformer that takes clear inspiration from classics in the genre. Its core is solid and satisfying but it’s held back by underdeveloped elements like tedious combat and a bolted-on open world area.

The visual design may be the game’s best feature. It’s consistently strong, with a warm and inviting aesthetic. Environments are lush and distinctive, enemies are creepy and readable, and the handful of characters ooze personality.

The platforming mechanics are serviceable and the experience is elevated by level design that throws a variety of challenges at you while providing ample opportunity to explore and find hidden collectibles. The game is at its best when you’re exploring its semi-linear platforming playgrounds, though these are occasionally split up by puzzles which are obtuse and perfunctory. Combat is a consistent weak point - you don’t have interesting options and you have little control over the ones you do have, as there’s no lock-on and many of your moves cause you to lurch around significantly. A mid-game ability allows you to bulldoze weaker enemies much faster, speeding up combat and letting you focus on the more powerful enemies with more interesting attack patterns - this is such an improvement that the game might have been better off without the weak enemies entirely. There are also no traditional boss fights; instead there are combat and/or platforming gauntlets with extra telegraphed area-of-effect attacks to avoid.

The bulk of the gameplay is mostly linear - there’s a tutorial chapter and a final chapter, and in between are three main levels that can each take about an hour to get through. But for some reason, in between these is a large open-world area. It has a number of points of interest ranging from groups of enemies and hidden collectibles to a combat arena and platforming challenge tower, but there’s no map or radar to help you find them and they are quite spread out. This seems to be to justify the presence of a “surfing” ability that has you using your shield as a hoverboard - but this ability in turn seems to exist just to justify the huge open area, as that’s the only place it can be used. While it’s certainly possible to make open areas and hoverboarding compelling, here they are just propping each other up without being particularly enjoyable on their own merits and the game would have been better off dropping both. Similarly, the game has a leveling system that mostly seems to exist to justify all the experience-granting collectibles, and unique “relic” collectibles that mostly just pad out the achievement list.

The linear levels are by far the best part of the game. While the game’s visuals and its mechanical core of platforming are well done, most of the rest of the game diminishes the experience and would have been better served by further polish or just dropping them entirely. There’s still a satisfying platformer here, though, and I enjoyed exploring and navigating the main levels. They didn’t do much I hadn’t seen before in other 3D platformers, but they were so beautiful and well-paced that I still had a great time.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game with all collectibles and achievements.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.