Inspired by multiple classic titles, Effie combines fun combat and platforming with an empty world to underwhelming results.
I’m a massive fan of platformers and colorful action-adventure games. Being on the same playing field as indie gems like A Hat in Time and the wacky Lego games, Effie has its work cut out for it if it wants to make an impression.
Unfortunately, its delightful aesthetics are not enough to help it keep up.
The Boomer and the Witch
The story of Effie begins the same way that The Beauty and the Beast does. A woman pleads our hero Galand for help, but he is too lazy to come to her aid. That woman turns out to be a witch and turns him into an older man. Now, old Galand must find a way to undo this curse. To do that, he must prove his selflessness and save the kingdom.
Galand sets out to the plains of Oblena, where he travels between cities and saves each one from a curse that has befallen them. Each city acts as a dungeon or level and features a new ability and a boss battle at the end.
The dungeons contain different secrets that you can discover, including runes that you can collect to power up, and artifacts that teach about the world’s lore. Most of these aren’t particularly rewarding, but out of sheer curiosity, I found myself exploring and trying to get them all. Unfortunately, once you defeat the boss at the end of a city’s dungeon, you can’t re-enter it. If you missed a collectible, you’re locked out of it until you start a new game.
You can find collectibles outside of cities too – the plains of Oblena have a few landmarks you can visit and explore, including a graveyard and a race track. Those landmarks are few and far between, and you’ll get through all of them fairly quickly. Since your only reward is an artifact with a little bit of lore, visiting them doesn’t feel very meaningful.
Too Tired to Jump
The platforming in Effie comes in all shapes and sizes: moving platforms, collapsing platforms, and traps like saws and rotating scythes. But the game doesn’t give you many tools to deal with these obstacles. The first two abilities you unlock early on are your standard double jump and mid-air dash. Although Galand’s jumps aren’t incredibly quick or as responsive as in other games in the genre, they are accurate enough to for a satisfying experience.
At its very best, the platforming is very exciting, with moving platformers and crushing blocks. The boss battles in the game always incorporate platforming as well, and those are usually the best moments in the game.
The platforming is occasionally mixed with light environmental puzzles, such as having to activate switches to open a door. It never gets any more complicated than that, which is fine for young players but won’t challenge veteran gamers as much.
When you’re out exploring the vast, empty plains of Oblena, you can use your shield as a hoverboard to move around quickly. The plains have boost points scattered across them, which you can ride through and gain more speed.
But controlling Galand when he rides his shield isn’t very easy or fun. You control it as if you’re driving a car – you have to hold down the right trigger to accelerate instead of simply moving with the left stick. Something about it doesn’t feel as agile and fun as it’s supposed to. More importantly, though, the shield only functions as a means to cross the empty environment, and cannot be used for combat, platforming, or any other way.
The Shield Is Mightier Than the Sword
Galand finds a Rune Shield at the very beginning of Effie, a shield that he can use to battle the various foes he meets on his quest. He can also use it to smash boxes and find runes that power him up.
Galand can use various attacks such as heavy and light attacks and can chain them into short combos that hit enemies hard. The different animations vary in between attack combinations, making it feel like you are using countless attacks and combinations.
As you continue your journey, Galand learns new and special attacks that can help him take out multiple enemies faster. Every additional attack comes at the right time to add more variety to battles.
Apart from regular enemies, some of the creatures you find in your journeys can shoot projectiles at you. To help deal with them, you can use Galand’s Rune Shield as, well, a shield. It is easy to use, but I didn’t find myself using it much, especially since Galand can soak a lot of damage without breaking a sweat.
You occasionally also face larger enemies that are immune to light attacks. Luckily, Effie never overdoes it. While the combat in Effie is not as detailed or responsive as that of its inspirations, it still makes for one of the best parts in the game. The variety of attacks, animations, and enemies make it refreshing every time.
Oh Valley of Plenty of Colors
The first thing you’ll notice about Effie is the way it uses red and blue to paint the world in bold, contrasting colors that both catch your eye but aren’t too distracting. The plains of Oblena were some of the best looking places in the game, with lush red fields that are really nice to look at. The red plains are not the only beautiful thing to see in Effie. One of the cities in the game, which is themed around grape juice, has a beautiful purple lake surrounding it that you can surf using your shield.
The story moments of Effie are fully voice acted, but unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy the voice acting very much. While Galand himself has a reasonable, fairly low voice and cracks jokes here and there, the supporting cast – mainly the witch and Effie, Galand’s daughter, just don’t hit the right notes.
Effie draws inspiration from the classics and tries to bring together a bunch of great ideas. While some parts of it are great, such as the combat and platforming, it pieces them together in a pretty, but empty, overworld that takes away more than it adds.
While surfing on a hovering shield seems like a cool idea at first glance, it serves no purpose other than getting you from A to B in the somewhat empty plains of Oblena.
Luckily, the combat in the game feels exciting and varied, and although the platforming could be a little tighter, it never gets repetitive.
Developer: Inverge Studios
Publisher: Inverge Studios
Release Date: Jan. 28, 2020
Our Effie review copy was provided by the developer.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.