Effie is a 3D action-adventure game that, at this time of writing, has just been released on Steam just a few days ago. Since it looked fun and I hadn’t played a platformer in a while, I figured I’d give Effie a try and see what it’s made of. Here’s how it went.
Fantasy Violence: Protagonist Galand has to fight a handful of different monster types, from Ghouls to a Witch, which brings us to the next point.
Witchcraft/ Magic Powers: The main antagonist is a witch with control over dark forces. Galand also gets some magical abilities.
Looting: This is a bit of a stretch, but Galand can destroy objects and loot monster camps for experience and relics.
Let Me Tell You A Story.
Upon starting Effie, a short cutscene plays involving a little girl named Effie playing around a fireplace with an old man seated in front of it. The old man tells her of a young man who was cursed to be old due to his laziness and lack of empathy, and his adventures leading up to the point where the player plays. From then on, gameplay is centered around the man and narrated as if it’s a story to young Effie.
At the end of each level, the story cuts back to the Old Man and Effie, as if the story is being told chapter-by-chapter. Throughout the game, passive comments such as “Galand felt energized!” are made, to further make it seem you’re playing out the Old Man’s story. Though the story is fairly generic, the idea of it being narrated as you’re playing is novel.
“Galand Needed Some Time to Get His Mind Straight”
Over the course of the game, I only had two puzzles I didn’t understand right away. That being said, it’s not as if they are too easy. Many of the puzzles are fairly fun to solve. My favorite puzzle takes place in a factory-esque level where I had to flip switches in order according to what their wires were attached to. With good observational skills and a little time, the puzzles are age-neutral.
The platforming challenges are equally well-done. They are neither too difficult nor too easy, but just enough to require my focus. My favorite challenge involved jumping from barrel-to-barrel in a river of grape juice (yes, grape juice!) in order to reach a far platform. The final battle also has some nice platforming challenges.
The only downside I have to these challenges is the time it takes to retry them. Rather than taking a bit of health, or doling out some other health-related consequence, platforming challenges cut out immediately to a load screen if failed. Then I would have to wait a couple seconds for the game to load, just to repeat the entire challenge, or boss battle, again. This added difficulty to the game, but also irritability.
The music is one of the elements that impressed me the most while playing Effie. Though it may have it’s stereotypes (metal sounds in a factory level, etc), I usually found myself enjoying listening to the music, and I particularly enjoyed the track which played on the Windmill level. Unfortunately, however, the music often cuts out during gameplay. I played Effie with various methods of listening to the audio, and they all had the same problem of the music randomly stopping. On one hand, there is a wonderful ambiance of wind, birds singing, and the like when there’s no music. On the other, it feels like that’s an accidental boon.
Though I love the music and windy ambiance that plays, the sounds of monsters always ruins it. I wear earbuds and headphones when I play, and no matter where the monsters appeared—front, right, left, or behind—the sound was always in my left ear. It drove me insane. I could have music and whatnot in my right ear, but my left would have nothing but the moans of ghouls. While it positively gave me increased motivation to take them out, this is a bad reason to have it. There’s no reason for a modern game to have such split sound.
“Sometimes Galand Wished He Could Ride Away…”
I had a lot of fun shield surfing. A quick press of a button, and Galand can take off on his shield like a hoverboard. Simple but effective, shield surfing in Effie is centered around three things: left trigger to brake, right to accelerate, and Speed boosts. There’s really no need to shield surf besides to navigate the overworld quickly, but it is fun. Throughout the overworld there are also ramps to jump off of, but sadly they don’t really work. It’s a shame that there aren’t any noticeable game objectives for shield surfing, because it’s Effie’s best mechanic.
Even with how fun shield surfing is, the overworld is noticeably empty. Fields of red grass and rivers cover most of it, but that’s it besides a few monster fortresses scattered about. I’m not asking for any Breath of the Wild, but surely there can be something more to occupy space.
“Uh, That’s Not What Happened!”
The animations are Effie’s greatest downfall. Everything else in the game is beautiful, such as the overworld, or okay, such as the same sounds being used for opening and shutting doors. But the animations? They’re rough. The Witch, the main antagonist of the game, seemingly only has three animations: Laughing, Flying, and casting a spell. Naturally then, when those animations shift it’s pretty obvious. More obstructions I have noticed include mouths not moving when a character speaks, and unnatural movements of other characters, like when Effie sits down.
Outside of cutscenes, most of Effie looks pretty good, if not choppy. Galand moves and controls better than many games I’ve played, and I love the fact that I was able to land on most anything without invisible walls bumping me off. Combat is simple but acceptable. My only complaint with it is that enemies have no spinning animation. Missing animations take away from gameplay immersion, and ultimately make the game look incomplete.
“Galand Could Still Become A Hero!”
Effie is far from perfect, but there is a lot of good stuff here. The story is good enough to flesh out, and there are a lot of details that can be added. Having story tidbits hidden via relics is a step in the right direction. Theoretically, a lot of Effie’s problems are not difficult fixes. Effie could be a solid 8-9 after some minor fixes in the audio, a couple of extra animations for the monsters, and some cutscene revamping. Effie has potential to be a good game, but until then, it’s pretty mediocre.
Unfortunately, even with the fixes, I wouldn’t be able to justify Effie’s price tag. It’s simply not big enough to be worth $20. Once complete, it may go for $10, but as it sits, I would value it around $3.
The Bottom Line
Like a child, Effie is small and full of potential, but not yet grown to the game it could be.