Pluck up your courage, unsheathe your sword, and grab your teddy bear, because Aksys Games and LookAtMyGame have created a shiny new action adventure RPG going by the name of Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus. And it’s really fun.
Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is the sequel to the developer’s previous venture, Finding Teddy, a challenging point and click game for the PC. Kicking all but the awesomely frustrating puzzles to the kerb, the series has come back in the form of a perfectly pixillated 2D side-scroller that feels right at home on the PS4.
Playing a young girl called Tarrant, you are accompanied by your teddy bear (who has been possessed by an old friend – you know, that old story), as you slash through monsters, solve head-scratching puzzles and discover how to converse with the locals. The game’s back story is introduced in a really cool way: a wall of text describes the state of a magical kingdom and the plight of their leader. It’s then revealed that this screen is from a video game that Tarrant is playing (potentially on a SNES?). It quickly provides you with all the information you need from the first game, allowing you to get on with the gameplay almost immediately.
While most of the basic controls are pretty straightforward, some of the more advanced moves, such as block, take a bit of trial and error to get the hang of. This can be frustrating early on, but it’s really rewarding once you’ve got the hang of it. As there’s no guidance, you can really take ownership of every learning success. Unfortunately, the fighting mechanics are probably the worst aspect of the game. While yes, a quick jab will get the job done, your character’s sword has barely any reach without any upgrades. This is fine for your average Joe bad guy, but makes things very difficult once you’re head-to-head with one of the big bosses.
You know what I love more than a pretty game with puzzles? A pretty game with musical puzzles. You communicate with NPCs in the game using a musical device known as the Musicom, which you discover fairly early on in the game. The mysterious world you’re travelling through speaks via musical notes. Armed with a dictionary, players have to collect runes scattered in chests across the land in order to speak the language and progress further through the game.
Visually, the Chronicles of Teddy is stunning. From luscious forest to murky sea-beds, no detail is too small or too much bother. They’re all there. The graphics are vibrant, charming and the perfect way in which to present a fantasy adventure. And you can’t have awesome pixel art without a great 8-bit soundtrack to accompany it. The quirky music is fun, nostalgic and will bring you back from the brink of rage-quitting when you’re stuck on a puzzle.
Potentially the best part of Chronicles of Teddy is that the game leaves you to find the answers for yourself. There is no NPC to guide you around or nudge you along with clues; you learn and progress by playing the game. Can’t figure out how to reach those secret items? Go explore some more, collect a chest full of marbles and return when you have bought some upgrades. There’s a solution to every puzzle, no matter how big or small. All you have to do is have the patience and savvy to figure out the answer.
Granted, retro enthusiasts will probably get the biggest kick out of Chronicles of Teddy, but there’s something for everyone in a game that is anything but your standard indie. Pixel art is becoming more common in this genre, so you might want to roll your eyes and walk away on first glance, but you’ll be missing out. For one thing, the developers have done so much more with this art style than other games that are currently on the market. Chronicles of Teddy is worth a download alone for the rich graphics alone.
Overall, this lively side-scroller is a really pleasant surprise. Reminiscent of classics such as Legend of Zelda and Super Mario, Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is a joy to play and offers an impressive number of landscapes to explore within its four magical realms. You’ll feel compelled to investigate every nook and cranny of the game to satisfy your own curiosity, rather than going through the motions for the trophies or a 100% completion notification. This is a superb choice if you’re looking to immerse yourself in something fantastical, slay some insidious foes and lose yourself for an afternoon or two.