[Review] Giraffe & Annika (PS4/Switch/PC)
Honestly, I wasn't expecting to love this game so much. I know it might be early to say but I think this game might be my personal favourite for this year.
It didn't feel like anything I've played before, in fact at first it didn't feel like a game. I felt as if I was playing a tech demo. The game is that beautiful. Initially I was confused by the lack of instructions or tutorial, but it adds to the atmosphere of adventure. The game lets you learn naturally, like a baby learning it's surroundings, or the voice of it's mother. I wish more games were like this, it somehow brought me back to my childhood, learning how to live by making countless mistakes.You see an island far off in the distance and you want to approach it. You can swim only to find out that Annika hates the water and loses health when she comes in contact with it. It's supposed to be a joke, because she is a cat, I found things like that quite amusing.
I enjoyed the fact that the game teases the player. If you can see an area in the horizon you can go there, but you may need a key or one of Annika's special abilities to get there. Annika has 3 special abilities that you gain after completing the first 3 "dungeons". One of the abilities is to run, I found that quite odd that Annika would need magic to run, but it really helped later on in the game when you are expected to run and jump.
The graphics in the game was slightly jarring at first, only because the game introduces the story through Visual Novel style sequences. Showing off great 2D visuals sets an incredibly high bar for the 3D models to be just as great, and unfortunately they weren't as awesome. However the 3D models eventually grow on you, especially the ones for the bunnies and the other anthropomorphised characters. The 2D sequences are unique because they look and play like a child's story book, similar to Rosalina's story book in Super Mario Galaxy. Once again I felt like a child, remembering all those times when my parents will tell me a bedtime story.
A strong point for this game has got to be it's humour. Throughout the game you will read many cat puns and fun quips from Annika,. especially when you collect these wonderful cat illustrations known as meowsterpieces. Meowsterpieces seem like a useless collectable, but you actually need a fair few to complete the game. You are rewarded but collecting them, with adorable outfits for Annika. I was motivated to gain more meowsterpieces, just to take a look at them, they are all so weird and quirky. Little stuff like this, really adds to the charm of this game and I absolutely love it.
For those who are used to collect-a-thon platformers, Giraffe & Annika will feel out of place. The dungeons are unique in the sense that you have no hearts, 1-ups or even a way to directly defend yourself from the ghosts. Instead you can recover health at these magical stones, (which aren't really explained in the story), you can use cover and the environment later on in the game to defend from the ghost's projectile attacks. Later on the game feels like a puzzle platformer, especially in the tundra dungeon. At times it's a on-rail shooter, with it's roller coaster dungeon mini games. The boss fights however is what sets this game apart from the others. You take on Lily, the game's antagonist, by partaking in small rhythm game. I enjoyed the boss battles not because of the mechanics, but because of the music and the choreography.The music is a highlight of this game.
The game is marketed as a rhythm game, I would disagree.There is only a rhythm game sequence after every dungeon. I feel as though it was marketed in this way in order to preserve the true meaning behind this game. It sound like a cop out to some of you, but I really don't want to spoil this game for any of you. The moment I finished the game, the little quirks in the story, characters and in the environment began to make so much sense. My mind was blown.
It must be mentioned that this game doesn't have a new game plus. Which is unfortunate, I really want to play this game forever or at least until I have seen everything it has to offer. I want to go back and collect those meowsterpieces I've left behind or finish off those silly missions for the bunnies. But that being said this game changed my life, never in my years of games journalism have I come across a game so delightful. The game makes me feel this sensation of warmth and nostalgia. I felt lost in the it's universe and began to forget about my troubles. This game definitely came at the right time considering the state of the world.
Overall Rating : 9.5/10
+ Fantastic UI
+ Beautiful Visuals
+ Well Written, Heart Warming Story
+ Amazing Music
- No New Game Plus
- Slippery Movement
This review covers Giraffe and Annika for Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to NIS America for providing me with the opportunity to play this game and write this review.