Effie is a nostalgia trip, it brings back memories of old adventure and platforming games. Just as it brings the good things from those times, the bad things followed.
Effie is actually a little girl that is being told a story by the main character, Galand. The story begins when Galand was still young and lazy. A woman asks him for help with her broken cart, but being lazy, he makes an excuse why he can’t. Unfortunately for him, that woman is a witch, called Melira. He gets cursed and ages rapidly, now he has to find a way to get his youth back.
You go to the Temple of the Elder Protectors and the game mechanics get slowly introduced. After you talk to the Elder Protectors, you accept the mission to destroy the dark magic crystals and free Oblena from her Melira’s rule. You get a magical shield called Runestone, and you’re off on your adventure.
When it comes to gameplay mechanics, it does feel old-school. You have a light and heavy attack, some power attacks, and you can dash and block. You get all of these new moves as you play, they are powers the Elder Protectors bless you with. You use your shield for all of this, including collecting XP. Years ago this would be perfectly fine, but today it feels a bit shallow. It gets repetitive rather fast, so you might get to the point where you just run and dash past enemies.
Going back to the XP, you’ll notice you level up from time to time. When you level up, you just get a bit more health and stamina. It would be a lot nicer if you could also upgrade your attacks, or triple jump, or anything really, just give us some choice.
The camera and movement also leave something to be desired. Effie is a 3D platformer, and that means you are going to get very annoyed if you miss a jump because you can’t get a good view.
Way too many times I couldn’t decide if I need a single jump, double-jump, or a jump and dash. The usual way this ends is with me dying or having to run back and try one of the other options. In case you do die, Galand will comment that it didn’t happen like that and you get to try again, it’s a nice throwback to Prince of Persia.
Besides botched jumps, don’t expect to die a lot. There’s a healthy number of different enemies to fight, but the fights themselves are very easy. Thankfully, fighting Melira is actually fun. Every time you fight her, it’ll be completely different. One fight will have you defeating her minions, next time you are jumping from platform to platform to open valves to pour wine on her, then you will be running through a sawmill. The variety keeps it fresh and fun, and the fights never feel boring.
Another thing that keeps things fun is the variety in level design. The world is large and it can feel empty, but it looks good and it’s brightly colored, there’s also just enough locations around it for you to stop and explore for it to not feel too empty. The larger locations around the map all have a distinct feel to them and you get a bit excited to see what’s next.
The unfortunate part is, again, the world is still pretty empty while you’re cruising on your shield. Another annoying thing is, when you finish a level, that section gets locked off and you can’t go back in. So, if you didn’t get all the collectibles, good luck in the next run.
Moving onto technical parts of the game. The low poly graphics look nice, especially when combined with the fact that enemies and specific areas have a few thousand polygons more, making them stick out and catch your eye. All around it’s a satisfying game graphically, and it brings back memories of games you used to play so many years ago. The animations, on the other hand, feel clunky at times, they aren’t horrible, but you will notice that they aren't completely right.
The voice acting suffers from the fact the actors’ native language isn’t English, but it’s perfectly acceptable. I had a bigger problem with the limited number of lines. Specifically having to constantly hear “It’s an ambush”. It got rather annoying and it would have been so much simpler to just have the enemies there and fight them without getting the gameplay interrupted to hear that it’s an ambush.
I know I spent most of this review railing at Effie, but it’s still a fun little game. It’s not a bad game, it’s just average, and being average isn’t necessarily bad. It does a lot of things well, but they are closely followed by things that need more work.
If you’re a fan of such games and would like a healthy dose of nostalgia, absolutely go for it. If not, maybe get it on sale, and it is on sale right now for its launch on Steam. Effie is a nostalgic and fun game, it doesn’t shine in any field, but it isn't completely bad in any field either, and that’s okay. So it earns a respectable 7/10.