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Review: Giraffe and Annika (PC)By Renan At 16.03.2020 15:28

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The biggest problem plaguing Giraffe and Annika is mainly the fact that it's not really a rhythm game. That's the main selling point, and by far the most interesting mechanic at play, but in truth, the title is an action-less adventure, with an emphasis on storytelling. Driving this idea home even further is the comic book-style cut-scenes, shining a spotlight directly on the plot's presentation.

It's certainly charming, and the dialogue isn't poorly written, but the actual adventuring gameplay can be something of a slog - especially for those experienced with both the medium and the adventure genre. Puzzles aren't devoid of challenge, but they're often easier than they should be, with no real brain teasers in the way. The player will gradually unlock new abilities - like a jump - leading to some metroidvania-esque progression, but nothing's particularly well hidden.

…That said, this is an adventure well suited for a younger audience. Enemies are present, but they're not too dangerous. More often than not, environments are safe and colourful, instead prioritizing puzzle-solving over combat - of which the title has very little of. Even dungeons themselves tend to fall on the simpler side, making relatively poor use of the exploration which, while not the heart of the experience, is what audiences will be engaging with more than anything else.

The real draw at the core of Giraffe and Annika is the rhythm-based combat. Although dungeons mainly centre themselves around platforming, players will find themselves confronting bosses at the end of each one. These boss fights are entirely rhythm-based, and require you to match your opponent's attacks along with the music. Movement is locked to left and right during these segments, with the player needing to tap or hold the right key depending on whether they're countering a Rhythm Circle or Rythmo Stream respectively.

Each boss fight being tiered into difficulties is a nice way of dashing in some replay value, but these boss fights are surface level more often than not. At their best, they're pretty good. At their worst, they're entirely mediocre. And most of them are kind of mediocre. It certainly doesn't help matters that the music is nothing to write home about. Still, the actual gameplay is simple with an addictive quality. A sequel could very easily add more depth to the combat and provide some better boss design.

Worse yet, there are only around half a dozen bosses available, meaning that the title's worst features are left to carry a good chunk of the experience. The only solace comes from the relatively short play time, and an engaging enough plot. Giraffe and Annika is too at odds with itself for its own good, but anyone needing an introduction to the medium may very well enjoy the lighter, softer, low-maintenance experience.

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Final Score
[i]Giraffe and Annika[/i] doesn't quite excel when it comes to its adventuring side - a pity considering how much time it ends up taking - but a charming, comic-esque presentation, and rhythm game boss fights at least make it interesting. That said, it's worth keeping in mind that the rhythm-adventurer's best qualities are the ones it indulges in the least. There are only around half a dozen bosses in the entire thing, leaving the exploration to carry a majority of the experience. Still, light puzzle-solving and a short campaign make it easy to stomach its rougher edges. This is absolutely a case of a concept being better than the execution, but this might still resonate well with a younger audience.

4

/10

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