I’m a massive fan of indie games which have been aided by the fabulous team over at PlayStation Talents in Spain. I’ve reviewed a number of them on this website, each one is a product of love from the developers who needed a little helping hand in order to bring their creation to the PlayStation 4. The latest game I’ve had the pleasure to take a look at is Effie, an old-school 3D platformer inspired puzzle-platformer filled with action, adventure, and fantasy!
From developers Inverge Studios and out now on the PS4, later this year on the PC via Steam, Effie is full of nostalgic nods to yesteryear within its mechanics. However, does the combination of old-school mechanics within a new game increase the playability, or does it make the game cumbersome to play and enjoy? Let’s find out…
First up, Just like The Legend of Zelda, Effie isn’t actually the name of the main protagonist, it’s actually the name of the young girl our protagonist is telling his tale too. Our hero of the day is called Galand, an incredibly strong, yet very lazy, young man. One day, a young woman asks you for help to fix her cart, yet Galand refused as he couldn’t be bothered to help. Unfortunately, the woman was actually a witch and she didn’t take too kindly to being pushed aside by the lazy brute, so she stripped him of his youth and magically transformed him into an old man!
In hope of getting back his youth so that he may live out a full life, he sets off to see the Elder Protectors within their hidden lair. However, only those with a kind heart can have the spell broken – Garland clearly doesn’t fit this description. So, he’s sent out into the world to help out the townsfolk in various regions where the witch’s minions have taken residence, hoping this will be enough to overcome the curse and free him from the spell.
And so begins our adventure…
Effie is a homage to 3D platformers of the past, the story is nice as it holds things together, but the main crux of the game is the actual platforming, puzzles, combat, and collectables. The game consists of five main towns/dungeons, one for each chapter, which are placed within a nicely sized semi-open world. Each one is filled with secrets to find, baddies to kill and traps to overcome, all whilst using your head to solve the variety of puzzles on offer. Thankfully, our hero kept his strength when he was age-accelerated and he acquires a few new abilities along his journey.
Your first and only weapon is the mystical Shield which was given to you by the Elders. This shield is basically the Swiss Army Knife of weaponry as it can be used to open chests, smack enemies on the head, thrown like a boomerang, used as a ‘Hoverboard’, and obviously used to protect yourself from attacks. Attacks themselves are straight forward, Square for normal attacks and Triangle for slower, yet more powerful, slaps to the face. The combat did feel a little floaty at times, but overall I thought it was quite satisfying and easy enough to get to grips with.
As you level up, you’ll become stronger, enabling you to deal more damage. You’ll also obtain new attacks such as the boomerang/discus and ground-pound attacks. These help you clear out large quantities of enemies with each use.
The second main gameplay mechanic is the platforming within the game. I personally never had any issues with the jumping, especially once the double jump has been implemented, but you don’t have full control all the time. For example, when your jumping, you may do a double jump as you feel a single jump won’t be enough, but it’s hard to then pull yourself back mid-flight if you see you’re about to over-jump and miss the platform. It’s not impossible, but it can be a little fiddly. Similarly, you have a dash attack, which you can use to also thrust yourself forwards in the air – this can also lead to some miscalculations and missing the platform.
Okay, the world of Effie isn’t a full open-world, as there is an invisible border, but the size we have to wander around is decent. Thankfully, you’re not expected to walk around as you uncover the secret locations and move from town to town, you have your Hoverboard! Well, it’s a Hover-Shield, but still – it’s cool! The world itself consists of bright red vegetation which not only looks absolutely beautiful, but it also provides a perfect contrast to the green scarf our protagonist wears. Not only that, the blue waters, the purple grape lakes and the cream-coloured roads, all look absolutely divine as you’re zooming around at incredible speeds upon your shield.
To be honest, everything within the world of Effie is so colourful and vivid. Sure, the detail on the various objects, such as the walls and structures, is minimalistic (sometimes purely just a colour and nothing else), but it all fits the aesthetic perfectly within this cartoony-fantastical dream-like visuals. Don’t forget, we’re living out the story being told to a young child, so we’re essentially playing out a child’s imagination as the story is reconstructed within her mind. For example, after you’ve left the dark hallways of the wood-based windmill town, you make your way over to Grape Town, a level which looks like it’s jumped right out of Willy Wonker’s factory with its bright green grass and deep purple ponds.
At first, I was just moving from town to town as I was completing the various chapters until I realised that there were a number of trophies I had to achieve which were nothing to do with the places I’d visited. So, I went for a look around, I jumped aboard my Hover-Shield and started to scourer the world. I found out that there are a number of other events and places to find upon exploring the world, these included a Colosseum to fight a horde of enemies and even a race. If you’re going for the platinum then you’ll have to find all of these anyway, but even if you’re not – go for a wander around, there are a few things for you to find within the red fields.
Puzzles you say?
Effie has puzzles in the vein of games such as Khara, Timothy Vs the Aliens, Flynn & Freckles and Asterix & Obelix XXL 2, they are mostly pulling levers and jumping on switches. However, there are a few clever puzzles which took me a few minutes to work out – my advice, if you can’t see a solution, look around… There’s nothing too difficult though but the game does like to play with you, solving the puzzle and creating a path for yourself may actually block off a path you had whilst the puzzle was incomplete, a path which actually leads to one of the relics you have to find for the trophies. As such, remember to use adventure game logic – always go the wrong way before you go the right way!
Speaking of the relics and collectables – this was my first issue with the game. Each town/dungeon has its own set of relics for you to collect. However, once you’ve completed an area and beaten the boss, you’re returned to the overworld and the place you were in becomes locked. This means that if you don’t collect everything whilst you’re in there, you can’t get the trophy for collecting every relic within the game – unless you play it again. There are no save files, just an autosave.
Also, another thing which trophy hunters may not be happy with is the point of no return. Just like Timothy Vs the Aliens, Effie warns you before you enter a certain location that if you go any further then you can’t turn back. As such, if you’re going for the platinum then you need to ensure you’ve got everything you can before you enter, otherwise, the autosave will lock you inside. It’s not a big issue, as the game does warn you every time you get close to the door to this place, but the fact you can’t go back to get the relics you missed in the town disappointed me a little as it meant I had no chance of even trying to get the platinum on my current run.
Effie is an indie creation, so it can’t be judged alongside AAA games which deliver realistic graphics and top-quality voice acting. As such, I was still very happy with the quality that Inverge Studios delivered here. As I mentioned before, the game feels like we’re playing the imagination of the young Effie as she listens to her grandfather tell her the story – this is backed up with the one-liners you get when you die and he tells her “no, that’s not how I remember it”. I believe this effect was used in the latest Kings Quest games when you died in those, as well.
Everything is so colourful and bright with each object and character creating a distinct contrast with the environment around them. The only issue I had with the visuals was the depth of field, it was a little too strong in the outdoor areas as it blurred out things I wanted to see more clearly – I would have liked an option to disable this. Other than that though, I loved the aesthetic the developers have gone for, the caricature-style combined with the fantastical environments and enemies creates a truly memorable experience.
Sound-wise, I think the choice of voice actors was very good. Sure, there are only a few characters who actually talk within the game, but they all deliver a good performance. However, there were a few times where the subtitles didn’t match the voice acting – which isn’t a bad thing – but I was confused with the pronunciations by a few of the vocals. The witch’s name was pronounced differently about three times and the ‘Boomerang attack’ was vocally referred to as the Discus attack. I imagine it changed description post-vocals as the subtitles and trophy refer to it as ‘Boomerang’.
The music was great though, it matched the action on-screen and made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Effie is a fun 3D puzzle-platformer which pays homage to the classics of yesteryear perfectly. The vivid and luminous contrast between the choices of colours the developers have opted to use, really makes the games visuals pop out of your screen as every single scene is like a child’s colouring book where they’ve gone crazy with the bright primary colours! If you’re not hovering around the overworld at 100MPH, you’ll be fighting evil fiends, solving simplistic puzzles, or traversing perilous platforming. Although the story is a combination of tales we’ve heard before, it’s fun to play through and held the game together nicely.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly puzzle-platformer which you can jump into and enjoy, regardless of your age, then Effie is perfect for you. Just remember, if you’re a trophy hunter then you want to search every nook and cranny for those pesky relics before you complete an area!
- - Fun nostalgic trip back to old 3D Platformers
- - Very colourful and bright
- - Entertaining puzzles within the unique locations
- - Good voice acting (bar a few pronunciations)
- - You can ride your shield like a Hoverboard!
- - General movement can feel a little floaty in a few instances (not enough to impact enjoyment though)
- - Unable to collect relics once you've beaten an area, meaning a second playthrough is required if you miss one
- - The "Hi Yah" line the bosses say gets very repetitive after a while.
- - The depth of field is a bit aggressive in the outdoor areas