Not all adventures come in the same size package.
Grand adventures that tell stories of brave and talented heroes overcoming evil are exciting, there’s no doubt about that. Quick, short stories that have the hero finding the key to the dungeon to save the princess can be just as fulfilling as well. And tales like Giraffe and Annika, from developer atelier mimina, land somewhere in the middle. Overcoming evil, fighting through dungeons, but also uncovering who you are along the way are just some of what you’ll face as you play through this cute adventure.
First released on PC earlier this year, Giraffe and Annika has made its way to consoles. The game tells the story of a cat-girl named Annika, who has lost her memory. Everyone that she meets knows who she is though – including the quirky boy known as Giraffe. Giraffe manages to convince Annika to help him in finding three elemental crystals hidden across the land – and, reluctantly, she agrees to help.
“The game’s world may seem large at first, but you’ll soon realise it’s pretty empty”
While Annika might seem like a helpless girl, she can take care of herself at the best of times. She’ll probably whine about it the whole time, though. She’s pretty young after all.
Giraffe and Annika plays like a RPG; you’ll travel around the game’s small world, picking up items and performing quests for others on the island. You’re also tasked with finding those three crystals which are guarded by different bosses. There are collectibles to find along the way, NPCs to speak to, and lots of stuff to collect. Unfortunately, despite its open world, Giraffe and Annika is quite disappointing when it comes to exploration.
“The one saving grace is Giraffe and Annika‘s rhythm battles”
The game’s world may seem large at first, but you’ll soon realise it’s pretty empty. Sure, there are a few things to interact with and one or two NPCs to converse with, but it never feels like a real living, breathing world. It feels very much like Annika has been dropped into a simulation where she doesn’t even move properly; instead slips and slides around in the environment as if she’s not properly connecting with it. And Giraffe and Annika‘s monotonous fetch quests will have you going back and forth so much you’ll have seen everything it has to offer in no time.
The overall mechanics of the game are mostly a letdown, too. In the beginning, Giraffe pushes you into going into a ghost-infested dungeon – talk about peer pressure – without even a wooden sword or spell at your disposal. In fact, you have to run through the entire dungeon avoiding the ghosts as best you can with absolutely nothing to defend yourself. You just have to run away. You’ll also learn that you can swim, but the mechanic is so horrendous its impossible to tell if you’re doing it right.
The one saving grace is Giraffe and Annika‘s rhythm battles. When Annika reaches the end of her first dungeon she’ll meet Lily, who she’ll have to face in a rhythm battle. This basically consists of Annika moving left and right, hitting orbs that Lily throws at her in time with the music. Battles get more complex as the game goes on, with Annika also needing to avoid obstacles being thrown at her, but they’re never particularly challenging. Even after upping the difficulty level to hard, these rhythm sections aren’t very difficult to surpass.
“There are much better adventures out there to spend your time with”
I also ran into quite a few technical issues during my time with Giraffe and Annika. The game requires you to retire to your bed for the night, and on two occasions I got stuck there, making it so I had to restart the game. There were also a few instances where text got stuck on the screen and wouldn’t go away until I had restarted.
Giraffe and Annika takes around six hours to complete and, after seeing it through to its end, I wish there were more positive things to say about it. The world and its characters are cute, but you’ll be sick of Annika’s whining and the painfully repetitive fetch quests in no time. It has some merit as a starter RPG to introduce young children to the genre, but even then, there are much better adventures out there to spend your time with.