Game: Greak: Memories of Azur
Genre: Adventure, Action, Platformer, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Xbox, PS5 and PC)
Developer|Publisher: Navegante Entertainment| Team17
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: UK £15.99 | EU € 19,99 | USA $19.99
Release Date: August 17th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Team 17
Escape the Invasion
Greak: Memories of Azur is a 2D side scrolling adventure where you play as a young blue elf looking chap called Greak. Ok, Greak is actually what’s known as a Courine and his race is under attack from some baddies called the Urlags. It’s up to Greak to pick up his sword, find his brother and sister and find a way to escape the incoming invasion.
The main feature of the game is co-op gameplay with your siblings. Initially you just play as Greak but it’s not too long before you reunite with your sister Adara and later your brother Raydel. Each character has their individual perks. Raydel is the muscle, Adara can use magic and Greak is a good fast all rounder. As you explore there are many nasty gooey enemies to defeat.
Combat itself is simple and easy to use with each character. If you’re running low on health you can pick up ingredients dotted about which you can store to cook in a pot to create a fine meal to replenish more of your health or just eat instantly for a small boost. Health doesn’t replenish instantly. You need to wait for a title bar to charge up before you replenish a bar. So if you are in the midst of a hard boss battle you may need to time things in advance before succumbing to a quick death. It adds a little more tension to the combat. The difficulty of the combat mostly settles around the moderate level but health pickups are pretty plentiful if you do struggle. If you explore the world you can also find permanent health upgrades, find new combat weapons and buy health and upgrades in the town.
In many of the areas you need to solve puzzles, like pulling levers to let your companions through. There are also puzzle sections where you need to rotate objects such as beams of light or move platforms, which require co-operation from all the family. You can easily switch between characters with the D pad. But the other characters are left alone and will stand there being idle. They will lightly defend themselves but you need to be very careful where you leave them. If left in an area where enemies regularly respawn there is no guarantee they will survive. This was also a problem when heading into a boss room which seemed better suited to one character only.
Saving often is advisable because if you or one of your siblings dies the game is over and you head straight back to the last place you saved. You can get your companions to follow you with a press of the trigger button which helps to a degree but quickly becomes quite tedious. I made the mistake of leaving a family member in another area only to need to select them and backtrack through a whole area again.
Fix the Airship
The main objective of the game is to help repair an airship. You need to explore the dark lands to find the pieces required and return them to the main town. There is an overworld map but the game only gives you vague hints where your next objective is. When I started playing this game I felt I spent a lot of time backtracking and spending a silly amount of time looking for bits of rope. Only 2 hours later to discover that I missed a cave in the corner of a map where the last piece was hidden. Not so bad if you don’t mind exploring, but a level map usually found in adventure games would have helped keep track of the areas you have already explored to avoid tedium.
The game has a lovely hand drawn art style with smooth animations. It feels like you are playing a detailed cartoon. Environments are dark and sinister with some pretty grotesque yet interesting enemies. You have plague-looking zombies which break into pieces when you hit them. You also have some very irritating bats and enemies which gave me horrible memories of Castlevania. There are a variety of NPC’s you can interact with to learn more about the game’s lore. The game runs well in both TV and handheld modes and I didn’t encountered any glitches during my playthrough.
Greaks main niggle for me is its lack of local co-op play. The game feels like it would just be that much more enhanced if a second player could pick up a controller and play as one of the other family members. The biggest tedium of the game was having to constantly swap between characters and run through the same sections over and over again. You can get your companions to follow you with the trigger buttons but this is not advisable through the tricky platform segments. It’s very playable in single player but one can dream.
It’s About Family
Greak: Memories of Azur has enough charm that, despite the several niggles I had, I was still compelled to play through it. Beautiful art style and fun and engaging gameplay are the stand-out features here. But if it had co-op that would just make this game that much more brilliant. For now I guess your usual co-op partner can sit on the side of the sofa and just shout at you until you give up the controller.
At the end of the day Greak is a good game about the importance of family that is well worth your time. It may also convince you to call your family to tell them you love them. After all, when chaos is coming we always have family in whatever form that comes in.
Final Verdict: I Liked it a Lot
If you want to try the game before you buy. There is a free demo on the ehop.