Inverge Studios‘ Effie is a current-gen indie 3D action-adventure platformer. The studio’s first foray into the console market is a modern throwback combining classic genre elements with an open world.
Effie tries to remind gamers why they love platformers, but is it enough to garner recognition among other modern platformers?
Genre: Action-adventure platformer.
Studio: Inverge Studios.
Release Date: Out now for PlayStation 4 & late 2019 for Steam.
Once Upon a Time…
Effie is a gorgeous fantasy tale where you play as the young/old hero Galand, wielding his trusty magical shield Runestone. Galand was cursed by a powerful sorceress, transformed into an older version of himself. He embarks on a quest to prove himself to the Protective Elders so that they might restore his youth.
As is the case with most platformers, the story tends to be a bit of an afterthought. However, Effie breaks the mould in this regard, as everything you do is in service of the tale it’s trying to tell. The story is narrated by a man recounting (and exaggerating) his adventures to the young girl Effie. While this premise isn’t entirely new, I found the story to be quite charming. The script is also brilliant throughout, with hilarious voice acting narrating all your heroics (and fails) as you play.
Effie‘s gameplay is split into three key areas: combat, platforming, and puzzling. These classic genre elements are how you’ll spend most of your time exploring the open world, all via the use of Galand’s shield.
The shield has a very important role in the adventure because its not just a weapon, it’s a versatile tool. Runestone allows Galand to attack enemies, solve puzzles, and even surf around at high speeds. Unfortunately, the combat takes a back seat as it is very repetitive, and button bashing your way through the same moves gets boring quickly. However, Effie plays like Spyro Reignited Trilogy with a ridiculously fun-to-explore world. Speeding through the Red Plains on shield is something you’ll want to do repeatedly.
The exploring and platforming is about what you’d expect from a 3D platformer. The game gives you a double jump and dash ability for hopping between platforms to progress and avoid obstacles. There’s nothing new here, but a time trial segment would help elevate the gameplay. Some of the platforming set pieces are perfect for speed runners.
Additionally, you use platforming to find enemy camps, challenges, and to discover collectibles like runes and relics. Special runes will revitalise Gallant and increase his strength, while relics seem to be there just for completionists.
Puzzle-solving also plays a big part in Effie, with puzzles scattered in-between the core platforming segments. These puzzles mostly consist of hitting switches and pulling levers to progress. As a result, they tend to be quite easy, with the more difficult puzzles having huge hints plastered on the walls or ceiling. These sections would have been far better if they were to ramp up in difficulty as you progress.
Beauty Is Everywhere
Inverge Studios’ mobile roots are on full show here, with the game taking on the extremely approachable aesthetic that many popular mobile games have. It’s quite reminiscent of Thekla Inc.‘s puzzle game, The Witness.
The beauty of Oblena’s locales distinguishes Effie from most of its cousins. Zones like the Red Plains, Windmills Town, Grapeland, and Woodborn all offer refreshing colour palettes for the eye. Everything is bright and colourful, amd characters and enemies stand out regardless of where they are, as everything has its own distinct appearance. You can forgo a map and waypoints in Effie, as landmarks are purposefully unmissable and recognisable.
The decisiton to use a mixture of low-poly and caricaturist cartoon models with realistic environmental textures and character designs is a smart one, resulting in a memorable and artistic aesthetic.
One of Effie‘s strong points is, without a shadow of a doubt, its music. Adrián Berenguer offers some truly magical compositions, adding a sense of grandiose to the adventure and giving players a greater sense of immersion. The accompanying music is brimming with life, synchronized with the action on-screen, and making the whole experience even more enjoyable. You definitely want to play Effie with your headphones on.
“Effie” and “Red Plains” are my pick of the bunch — have a listen to them here on Spotify!
Effie does well to pay homage to the platforming classics of the early console wars. The game has a lot to offer both visually and aurally, and the game’s enjoyment is found in adventuring and platforming your way through the open world, solving puzzles as you go. Effie deserves your time.
Effie is available on PS4 right now and will be available on Steam by the end of the year. If you want more reviews from myself and the rest of the Culture of Gaming gang, check us out at OpenCritic.com.
- THE GOOD
- Charming story
- Hilarious script and voice acting
- Gorgeous character and world design
- Open world shield surfing exploration
- Magical soundtrack
- THE BAD
- Basic and repetitive combat
- Some pointless collecting
- Not challenging enough
A thoroughly enjoyable indie platformer with a distinctive look and sound, built from Inverge Studios‘s experience in mobile games development. Worth a play, especially if you’re looking for something to fill the void of the current lack of platformers.