From my first moments with Effie, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia as memories of those old-school 3D platformers started flowing back. Everything about the game just kept that nostalgia flowing, from its graphics to its sounds and the platforming gameplay I loved back in the day, but Effie is more than that. Developer Inverge Studios managed to merge old-school 3D platforming with an open world with side activities, creating a title that is, for the lack of a better term, effing fun to play.
Effie puts you in the boots of Galand, cursed by an evil witch that the hero didn’t decide to help. Galand’s curse is that he has become an old man and in this rich fantasy world, he has to cleanse the five gems of evil according to the Elder Protectors of the realm. Galand sets off on a quest to cleanse the world, fighting ghouls, ghosts and more along the way. If you are wondering where the name Effie comes from, well, Galand narrates the story, telling it to a little girl called Effie. This puts a lot of personality into the story as you progress through the beautiful world that has this Zelda feel to it.
After a relatively short opening in a tomb, introducing me to the game’s platforming and puzzle solving mechanics, I was thrown into the open world of the Red Plains, with a powerful and ancient shield that I could surf on, use to double jump, smack enemies around with and more.
The Red Plains is huge open world with five primary locations where Galand needs to cleans a Gem of Evil in each, accompanied by various puzzles, from getting a Windmill to run again via some difficult but rewarding platforming, to fighting off hordes of enemies along the way.
Inside each of these areas, you will find intricate level design and some relatively good puzzles, but don’t expect anything too difficult. This is a game that gamers of all ages can play, so the puzzles aren’t all that difficult and seasoned gamers will breeze through them, as long as you take stock of your surroundings. However, most of the puzzles can also be brute-forced as you try combinations until one works.
That’s fine, however, as not getting stuck too much on puzzles is one of the things that made Effie such a fun experience. Further, you can surf around on your shield in the Red Plains and do some side activities, including a race and a gladiator-style arena and a few others I won’t spoil for you.
Which brings me to one of my criticism about the game. The open world, although massive, isn’t exactly brimming with content, but it was enough to keep me satisfied for roughly 12 hours, while the main story can be completed in about six hours total.
Effie also has some RPG mechanics, or rather, RPG-lite mechanics. Throughout the game, you unlock new skills just by playing and reaching a certain point in the story. Skills include dashing forward with your shield, slamming the ground real hard and more. Then, you also level up by defeating enemies, collecting Runes and there are also a variety of collectables that give you some back story on the world to be found. Levelling up increases Galand’s stats, from damage to health pool, but it just happens naturally and you don’t get to choose any specific stats to increase.
Effie’s combat plays out as button-smashing fun with a light attack and a heavy attack that feels simplistic, but it can sometimes become intense when you have to watch from all angles as attacks come in, or throw up your shield dome skill to protect against a devasting attack from an enemy, which are telegraphed to make the combat a bit easier.
The game also rewards the player for exploration and I spent quite some time trying to get to that chest at the top of a building that, at first, seemed unreachable. It combines the 3D platforming with exploring an open environment and even though the graphics do look simplistic at times, I was in awe of how open the world really is, with no loading screens. In the screenshot below, you can see buildings in the distance and you can get in them and explore without ever seeing a loading screen pop up.
Effie does a lot of things brilliantly well, but there are some flaws as well. Firstly, even on my PS4 Pro, I did experience quite a few FPS drops especially when surfing around the Red Plains and riding over some speed boosts along the way. Further, I felt as if a few more enemy types would have been really welcome, as it gets old facing the same six or seven enemies over and over again.
The same can be said of the boss fights, which do have some interesting mechanics and provide a challenge, but there just aren’t enough of them. Basically, I wanted more Effie, because even with some technical flaws, including enemies clipping into walls, it was a great experience all around.
Effie is one of those games I just picked up and enjoyed playing from start to finish in one day. The developer has done extremely well to merge old-school 3D platforming with an open world design, some RPG-lite mechanics, ARPG-like combat and some great puzzles that never felt frustrating. Throw in a fantasy story that kept me wanting more as well as beautiful graphics and the ability to surf around on a shield, and you have a winner on your hands.
Sure, Effie does have some technical flaws, but that didn’t stop me from having a whole lot of fun with the game, I just wanted even more of it. As I received a code for the game for review purposes, I didn’t check the game’s price until I wrote these last paragraphs of the review and honestly, I am a bit shocked right now. Effie will only set you back R329 at full price and I would have gladly paid R600 for the game as it does have a lot to offer. Now that’s value for money.
This review was based on a code sent to us by Inverge Studios.
Available On: PS4 (coming to Steam later this year) | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 4 June 2019 | Price: R329