I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My heart has grown three sizes. I might have even smiled at one point, although it could have been gas. Why the sudden change from a grizzled old gargoyle into the quintessential man-child I hear you ask? Someone just slipped me a code for Giraffe and Annika on PlayStation 4!
Giraffe and Annika comes to us via indie studio Atelier Mimina and is a joy to behold. It tells the tale of a young girl named Annika who mysteriously wakes up on a strange island known as Spica, dressed as a cat. Shortly after her arrival, she meets a peculiar young man named Giraffe who claims to know who she is and why she is there. Instead of filling Annika in on the blank spots in her memory, Giraffe sets her on a quest to explore some of the spookiest areas of the island in search of ‘star fragments, objects that she can only assume will help her remember who she is. Standing in her way though is a particularly naughty witch who also seems to remember our heroine, and will stop at nothing to keep her from completing her quest. Why? Well, we’ll leave it up to you to find out.
The game wastes no time with silly exposition and throws you straight into the saga after only a few quick comic panels giving only the smallest hint of what is to come. You immediately find yourself in the colourful and ‘floaty’ world of Giraffe and Annika and must navigate your surroundings with no real guidance in order to progress. Having no tutorial to speak of doesn’t really matter either as the game is marketed as being suitable for a 7-year-old to play, so it doesn’t take long to get to grips with how things work. But don’t let the age rating put you off. I’m in my late 30’s and I still found enough to love here, even if this isn’t the kind of game I would usually choose to play.
Perhaps the hardest part of the game is the BOSS BATTLES against Lisa the witch. There is no actual combat anywhere in the game, instead players must learn a pattern – or rhythm – to keep themselves from losing to Lisa. Fortunately for someone like me – who has zero rhythm – you can select your preferred difficulty rating before attempting to battle old witchy britches, but I found even the easy setting took me a little while to master. If you can do this on the hardest setting then I take my hat off to you!
EXPLORING IS NEVER BORING.
A lot of the game relies on the time of day, so during daylight hours you usually have to find other ways to entertain yourself. This isn’t difficult as Spica is littered with characters to interact with, drums to play, books to read, and keys to find. You can also learn new skills such as swimming or jumping that allow you to unlock new areas to explore. Spica isn’t huge, and this isn’t an open sandbox style of gameplay but there is just enough to keep things ticking over until darkness falls and you can head out on a new adventure.
TO PLATINUM OR NOT TO PLATINUM
Personally, I’m not the kind of person who obsesses over getting platinum, and that’s definitely a good thing when it comes to Giraffe and Annika. Although a lot of the trophies are pretty straightforward, there are also a few that require speed and to master advanced difficulties, and this is just not how I play a game in 2020. There’s no way I’m completing this game in 4 days, let alone the 4 and a half hours required to obtain a trophy. Maybe you can, and if that’s the case then good for you.
Giraffe and Annika is a whimsical adventure that is great for kids and adults alike. If you’re feeling frustrated and want to punch a hole in something, head off to the land of Spica and you’ll soon feel the red mist lifting as you slip off into a calm blue ocean brimming with adorable gameplay. There’s something for everyone here, and we defy anyone to find a reason not to fall in love with it.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch
Release Date: 28/08/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Platform
Developer: Atelier Mimina
Publisher: NIS America
Download link: US PSN / UK PSN