Follow You, Follow Me
HIGH Gorgeous hand-drawn graphics and a pleasant soundtrack.
LOW Controlling multiple characters soon becomes a chore.
WTF Seeing my sister fail to climb a ledge over and over again…
I have a bit of a soft spot for hand-drawn graphics. There’s something magical in seeing incredibly detailed animations come to life on a screen and noticing little touches that the artists and animators left. In this sense, there’s much to celebrate when it comes to Greak: Memories of Azur — it certainly looks gorgeous. Sadly, there’s more to a videogame than looks…
Greak is a 2D side-scrolling action-platformer that features three siblings who have been separated by war. They need to be reunited and then must work together to build an airship and sail away. While many games feature multiple playable characters, the twist with Greak is that it tries to do something different by requiring the player to move everyone at the same time.
While this might be a novel and interesting idea, it creates problems. However, the first chunk of the adventure is spent controlling one single character, and during that time it functions well. The main character, Greak, can wield a sword and jump a decent height, so killing enemies while solving quests on his own definitely works.
Unfortunately, after a couple of hours comes his sister Adara, who is slower and has a ranged attack. Her skills are used to press faraway buttons, open doors, and solve classic ‘ranged’ puzzles. Even later comes brother Raydel, the strongest of the bunch who can be useful for defeating tougher enemies in the final levels.
Keeping in mind that all characters are on screen together and controlled at the same time, the player can press a button to command an inactive sibling to get closer to the active one as they’re traveling through levels, which only kind of works since the AI doesn’t seem able to effectively climb ledges or get around simple obstacles. Also, this ‘come here’ command only works when the other character is in range, so it’s useless if they wander too far. As such, the player will have to spend too much time making sure that the trio are moving in unison through levels.
When the three characters are on screen, it becomes a real chore to try and keep tabs on what everyone is doing while also trying to get them to walk as a unit. Solving puzzles on a single screen works, but Greak‘s combat isn’t suited to multiple characters, which is an issue since it’s the central conceit!
For example, during boss battles a good strategy seems to be leaving weaker characters to one side where they can’t be hurt and fighting with a stronger one. However, if one of the three siblings is struck and falls dead, it’s game over. As much as the game wants to (I assume) support the concept of keeping a family together, the gameplay works best when they are kept apart — insert your metaphor of choice here.
Greak: Memories of Azur is an action-platformer weighed down by a complicated multi-character concept that doesn’t feel fully developed, and it’s tough to recommend such an experience when there are so many superior offerings in the same genre. Fixing its issues and ensuring that its main claim to fame works more effectively would do wonders for it, and I’m hoping we’ll see an improved version in future.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Navegante studio and published by Team 17. It is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Ps4 and Xbox. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated E by the ESRB, and contains Fantasy Violence. The violence is pretty mild, so I would definitely consider it okay for a general audience, even though its gameplay would better suit a child over the age of 10, at least.
Colorblind Modes: there are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not feature spoken dialogue, nor are audio cues used to communicate enemies’ attacks. I commend the developers for implementing options in interface scaling which perfectly suits any television or screen. In my view, the game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game employs a rather complicated control scheme which uses front buttons for calling the other characters (Y) or attacking (X) along with the shoulder buttons for making them walk together, in addition to the analogue levers for moving around. It is possible to remap the controls.