Effie is a throwback 3D action-adventure game, developed by Inverge Studios. The title packs plenty of punch and laughter every time you pick up the controller. It all revolves around an (air-quote) old man named Galand, who was robbed of his youth by a witch. His quest is to navigate the bewitched region of Oblena, conquering his enemies, and reclaiming his youth.

Run, jump, climb, glide, air-surf, and smash your way through the ghosts and goblins that occupy this wondrous environment. Effie combines classic platforming action with an intuitive combat system, and moderately difficult puzzle challenges. What’s nice about this game is that the narrator (which is actually Galand speaking in third-person), guides you throughout your journey. By his clever and comical direction he provides simple cues to help you stay focused and on track. As such, there shouldn’t be any difficulties seamlessly continuing the adventure if you have to take a break from the game for a while.

The controls are simple and easy to perform. At no point did I forget which button or combination of buttons to press to complete the action I wished to accomplish. The combat system is that of a beat ‘em up, so it really isn’t difficult to figure out what to do when you’re surrounded by enemies. Galand wields a magic shield, which can be used to smash opponents, glide, and air-surf around the various landscapes. Essentially, the more enemies you defeat and the more relics you collect, the quicker you’ll level up, which is easy to monitor as there is a meter in the top left-hand corner displaying your progress. It always felt rewarding to level up, especially if it occurred during a battle as it would give a nice boost to wallop my way to victory.

Effie’s graphical presentation is detailed and colourful. The region of Oblena offers a unique visual for platformers. Environments are completely interactive and contained several challenging yet rewarding obstacles. For example, navigating the carefully placed hover-style elevator squares requires precise timing. This is where the double-jump becomes very important. The game’s cartoon-like visual presentation is appropriate for the tone of the game and pairs smoothly with the sound.

Voiceovers are entertaining and light-hearted, which is refreshing for me. I really want to emphasize their importance. I enjoy reading, as it is a significant component of how I make my living. As such, I’m not a huge fan of spending too much time doing it while I’m gaming. Omitting voiceovers seems lazy and cheap to me. Luckily, the developers went the extra mile and committed to including satisfying dialogue. Likewise, the musical score and sound FX are fitting and add a nice touch to the overall presentation. The cranking of the gears, the roaring of the fires, and the grunts during combat were harmonious, resulting in a very polished overall product.

The storyline is straightforward and progresses smoothly. Sometimes less is more and in this case, the basic good vs. evil plot is sufficient enough to immerse gamers into the action

One complaint worth mentioning is that sometimes I would lose sight of Galand. For example, if I were traversing a ledge, the camera would zoom in very close for some reason. As such, I had to guess my way out of some situations just to locate my character. This wasn’t a big problem, but something that the developers may want to improve if they wish to create a sequel.

The only other complaint I have is the level of difficulty. Why not include an easy, medium or hard setting? The average enemy doesn’t present much of a challenge, some puzzles are very obvious, and the boss fights feel a bit anticlimactic. I never really felt like I was in danger or that I would have trouble completing each chapter. Within the genre I’ve come to expect a few failures and repeat attempts when it comes to boss battles. Yet, I cruised through each level like the number one seed walking through the playoffs. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the many scuffles and took pleasure in seeing how far I could launch my enemies with a mighty swing of my shield.

There is a lot of nostalgia in this title, which quickly drummed up my childhood memories of playing Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation. There’s no doubt about it, Effie is a fun game that both casual and hardcore gamers can enjoy. Sometimes I only have a few spare minutes to fire up the PS4 while other times I have a couple of hours to play. In both cases, I know this platformer can deliver the goods. I would recommend Effie and am already hopeful for a sequel that would allow me to jump into the air-surfinto’s shoes once again!

~~Eric Collins~~

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