A little charm, a little childlike innocence, and a few rhythmic battles make up the unique title Giraffe and Annika. This musical adventure title developed by Atelier Mimina and produced by PLAYISM shoots for a mixture of relaxed game play with the plucky optimism of an innocent heroine. Does Giraffe and Annika deliver the experience they were hoping for? Our Giraffe and Annika review answers just that.
Ghost… Spirits… as frightening as those things could be, Annika awakens in a world full of them, and yet, she faces them down unafraid as she helps her friend Giraffe and awakens her memories. In Giraffe and Annika, there are several stories to be shared, but the main one that will probably keep players enthralled opens up bit by bit as you progress through the world. While I won’t divulge any major spoilers, as the story is equally framed in happiness with some melancholy undertones, our cat-eared adventurer is tasked early on with aiding her newfound friend Giraffe with obtaining some crystals.
Giraffe and Annika has a rather simplistic form of game play. There is no true combat that players will experience when they are searching the landscape far and wide for secret cat photos and quest objectives. Dungeons and encounters with the spirits that haunt the dungeons are best avoided altogether. Bypassing the ghosts at best, is a lesson in good timing, as you dodge projectiles or environmental objects. At worst, it’s simply walking around some slow-moving specters and running away from them if you fall within their line of sight. The majority of each dungeon is more of a hindrance than a truly enjoyable romp through a dangerous dungeon.
The real fun of Giraffe and Annika lies in the rhythmic game play. While the beat-based button masher isn’t as complex as some of the others we’ve seen, every boss battle consists of hitting your marks at the right moments, dodging enemy attacks, and ensuring you tap enough to the beat to ensure you can defeat whatever wily character stands in your way. Musically, Giraffe and Annika won’t have you toe-tapping your way long after you’re finished with it, but the musical accompaniments are still quite enjoyable, and I found myself wanting many more beat battles than I did the other pieces of the game that truly felt as though they were stop-gaps between the real fun. Despite the rhythm portions of the game being the most fun, you’ll find in this playful indie, it isn’t perfect by any means. If you aren’t precisely on beat, and paying very close attention, tapping rhythmically even with a slight delay could result in you missing your chance for a great score.
After defeating each boss, Annika is endowed with several powers imparted on her by the crystals she obtains. Some of these powers are rather simplistic, such as jumping, while others, such as sprinting, are nice additions, but not particularly spectacular. While you require each of these abilities to progress through the story, they are fairly anti-climactic as most games start a player with the very basics of running and jumping.
In addition to unlocking abilities, there are several keys players must obtain, and the completion of puzzles, that aren’t exactly puzzling, and more along the lines of simply finding the right combination hidden somewhere, which isn’t particularly exciting, but is an adequate means to an end to pad progression. Mainly, the progression feels uneven. You could easily find and complete many of these puzzles, or speak to particular characters in moments, but the introduction of a day/night cycle feels more like an unnecessary hindrance than an actual game play mechanic. In other ways, meeting other characters and completing collect quests can be enjoyable, especially when most of them are accompanied by well-illustrated story panels.
Giraffe and Annika isn’t a bad adventure game by any stretch of the imagination, but it could be a much better one too. The biggest draw of this game is the rhythmic game, the fantastic art, and an earnest story that unfolds as you go. Unfortunately, the best parts of the game are muddied by other pieces that don’t quite fit cohesively with Giraffe and Annika’s better half. Undoubtedly, this game could appeal for families, or children and young adults that are looking for titles light on violence, with some enjoyable beat-based gameplay.