Third-person platform games went away for a while, after being huge on PlayStation 2 (which by looking at my watch, was a very long time ago!) They’ve been much more popular in recent years, with re-releases of old classics and of course new games too. Effie falls into the latter, and this is a story about Galand, a knight on a mission to retrieve something taken from him. At the start of the game, young Galand is cursed by an evil witch, who casts a spell on him that ages him instantly into an old man. You now go on a quest to slay the witch, and return to your youthful self.
The gameplay is classic 3D platformer, with areas to navigate, puzzles to solve, and of course, enemies to fight. You pick a magical shield up very quickly, and this is key to your entire combat and special movement in the game. With this, you can strike enemies, dash across long gaps, use special attacks, and surf! The latter of which is used to travel through the open world, and a hub to connect the game's main areas together. Other than some enemies to fight and optional events like racing, there is nothing to do there, which I feel is a bit of a shame, especially since the opening cutscene teased so much more.
Lots of modern platformers have many quality-of-life improvements over older games, with refinements in controls, camera behaviour, subtly guiding players through a level via clever design, and even how frequent things like checkpoints or autosaves are. In this regard, Effie feels dated, suffering from all of these issues to varying degrees. The platforming, however, is interesting and fun, taking you through gradually more and more complicated and unique areas. In many ways, it reminds me of the dungeons in 3D Zelda games, getting you to consider the environment when solving puzzles and platforming - it’s pretty neat.
Despite being old, Galand moves and fights like a young warrior, not like someone who’d typically be sitting down with their feet up, wrapped in a blanket and enjoying hot water bottle. This does feel like a slightly missed opportunity, not using some game mechanics that could be related to his age or lack of ability. Falling asleep, perhaps? Complaining a lot? Telling the enemies they don’t have any respect for the seniors? The list goes on!
The story, delivery of narration (told by Galand himself in past tense) is pretty shallow with not much in the way of depth beyond the basic premise. This too feels dated, with more modern games having much more to them in terms of character development, and layers to the story. You could argue this game is perhaps aimed at a younger audience, but plenty of tales aimed at children have done more with their back-stories in the past.
Despite performance issues on the Nintendo Switch, the overall presentation does feel polished and well put together, with each of the areas having their own visual design and style. Some more variations on the enemies, however, would have been welcome.
Effie isn’t particularly hard, with the only really tricky parts of the game being some of the bosses, which do spike in difficulty, especially when they start to add in level-design-based challenges on top of dealing with the boss itself.
I generally enjoyed Effie (and If you want to find out why the game is called "Effie" you're just gonna have to buy it) but it didn’t really offer anything new, and I think its throwback gameplay style perhaps went too far, not offering the improvements that modern platformers and adventure games have made commonplace. A decent game then, but I doubt it'll be a particularly memorable one.