Developer: Navegante Entertainment
Publisher: Team 17
Reviewed on: Playstation 5
Also available on: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S, PC
Release: 17th August 2021
Side-scrolling games are a common and accessible way to craft a very engaging gaming experience no matter the size of the team working on it. The controls are inviting to almost any age of player, as they follow the rules of the earliest of games, and there’s always a charming essence infused in these games due to the limited visual perspective.
The story follows Greak, a Courine who, along with his siblings Adara and Raydel, must find a way to escape the land of Azur due to the encroaching presence of an enemy known as the Urlags. Together, they must explore Azur to find the means to fix an airship needed for their departure.
The hand-drawn graphical style gives off a magical atmosphere that adds to the mysticism it aspires to. Every potion, food item, enemy and tree stump is beautifully depicted and packed with details that never lose fidelity in motion. The game also exercises a clever use of the foreground and background elements by providing easily defined silhouettes of environmental features.
The gameplay is mostly comprised of platforming and hack & slash combat. The jumping works well most of the time but it tends to stumble if you try and jump too quickly over multiple enemies, almost feeling sticky if the inputs are too quick. It’s not awful by any means but it is noticeable.
Another huge mechanic in this game is the ability to quickly change between Greak, Adara and Raydel and their various abilities. This is used primarily for solving puzzles where each character must be positioned in different parts of the level to open a mechanical door, for example. This works for this specific implementation but I feel like the characters could’ve benefitted from some A.I.
In order to move the characters, you aren’t controlling, you must hold down the left trigger and they’ll move in unison. The problem is, you have to account for multiple people when navigating simple obstacles, which can prove tiresome. Alternatively, you can hold down the right trigger to move all characters to your position but only if there’s a clear path. This mechanic is a cool idea but I feel it could be improved with some passive A.I to give the unused characters a bit more agency.
The sound design is very satisfying. Every item or switch will be accompanied by a nice clack or shimmering noise when interacted with. You’ll hear a variety of growls and gurgles from the many creatures across the world. What ties it all together are the ambient environment sounds, comprised of twigs snapping, birds chirping and the rustling of leaves in the woods.
The music does an adequate job of enhancing the atmosphere and keeping the mystery alive but there isn’t very much variety between levels. The music works well for most areas but, having more diversity would have benefitted the early game portions.
The use of haptic feedback, provided by the PS5, is something that can be easily misused but thankfully, it’s been implemented nicely and never proved to be a hindrance or a distraction. You’ll be able to feel every jump landing and every hit with a great thud as well as a light rumble upon collecting certain items. It very much enhances the experience without overstaying its welcome.
Overall, this game is a great time. It’s gorgeous to look at, fun to explore and will provide hours of engaging content. If you’re into side-scrollers or are a fan of a more cartoonish style game, there’s plenty to love about Greak: Memories of Azur.