Giraffe and Annika (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure game
Developer: Atelier Mimina
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: Switch, PS4, PC
Tested on: Switch

Giraffe and Annika (Switch) – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Relaxing gameplay
Bad: Lack of voice acting
User Score
7.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.8/10 (4 votes cast)

After making its debut on PC in February, adventure game Giraffe and Annika has now found its way to consoles. The game is the first title developed by Atelier Mimina, and it arrives on Switch and PS4 courtesy of NISA. The key art is appealing and charming, but how does it translate into the game? Even more important: how does it play?

Story

Through comic-panel styled cutscenes we meet Annika, a cat-eared girl who finds herself stranded on the mysterious island of Spica. Our heroine is suffering from amnesia but according to the enigmatic Giraffe (who, for the record, is not a giraffe), if Annika can recover three special star fragments, she’ll be able to piece back her memory again. Aided by Giraffe and the witch Lily, Annika embarks on a journey that sees her meet a menagerie of quirky characters. Don’t let the order of the names in the title fool you: this game is all about Annika’s journey, with Giraffe being a supporting character that pops up when the story needs him to. 

Graphics

Although Giraffe and Annika isn’t the most visually impressive title, the overall atmosphere still oozes charm and everything comes together really well. Admittedly, there are some stylistic clashes, with a world that at times feels too realistic compared to the anime-esque character designs, but this happens only rarely. The character designs are a bit hit-or-miss. We weren’t fans of the rabbit family, for example, but when a character design does work, like with Annika herself, it works really well. A special mention should go to the game’s story scenes. These are presented like beautifully drawn comic pages that emphasize character reactions. Annika herself is the star in these, with expressions that flesh out her personality. 

Sound

Giraffe and Annika’s soothing soundtrack adds to the relaxed mood that the game tries to convey. It’s cheerful and catchy but never gets annoying. Things get a bit more intense during the boss battles, which are all music-based, as they are rhythm games and we really enjoyed the tunes that were on display there. One thing that did irk us is that the game has no voice acting whatsoever. With a title as character-driven as this game, adding character voices would have gone a long way. 

Gameplay

Ultimately, Giraffe and Annika is a somewhat simplistic take on classic 3D adventure games in the same vein as the Spyro the Dragon games. Set in a semi-open world, where the areas Annika can visit are determined by which keys she has collected, your task is to complete simple quests as you play your way through the story. The ultimate goal is to restore Annika’s memory of course, but there are plenty of tasks and a few boss battles along the way. Tasks are varied but never too complicated. One minute you’ll be gathering wood so a friendly ghost carpenter can build a bridge, and the next you’re wandering around looking for Mrs. Rabbit’s offspring to tell them to get home before dinner.

There’s never a sense of urgency and the game allows you to complete these tasks at your own pace, although you’ll often find yourself unable to progress to new areas without first completing the task at hand. The overworld also makes use of a day and night cycle which influences events happening. That ghost carpenter we mentioned earlier, for example, is only available at night, whereas Mrs. Rabbit won’t come outside unless it’s daytime. Luckily, there are plenty of beds that Annika can take a rest in to change between day and night. 

Apart from the tasks, which are an overworld affair, for the most part, you’ll also have to clear dungeons. The word dungeons is used very loosely in the game, however, as some of the areas designated as dungeons are large open spaces. Unlike the overworld, you’ll find that NPCs, such as Giraffe, won’t accompany you in dungeons, whereas in the overworld, he’ll pop up from time to time to give advice or unlock new areas. Dungeons take on the form of obstacle courses with some light platforming. They’re inhabited by ghosts that will chase you on sight, so the key is to avoid them.

Although there is no life counter in the game, Annika still has a health bar and when she runs out, she’ll have to start over the dungeon. Health can be restored by standing near a glowing crystal or by eating food, which can also be stored in a bag for later. In addition to ghostly threats, dungeons also feature classic platforming mechanics such as moving platforms and pitfalls, branching pathways and hidden collectibles. Collectibles take the form of “Meowsterpieces”, which are curated pieces of artwork submitted by fans. Clearing a dungeon will eventually lead to a boss fight in a dance-off styled rhythm-based minigame. After clearing a boss fight, you’re free to re-challenge that boss at your leisure to try and improve your score. 

It’s a game that’s definitely family-friendly, although we wouldn’t quite say it’s aimed specifically at the younger crowd. Although it never gets very challenging throughout the six hours it’ll take you to complete, we imagine even seasoned gamers would be drawn in by the charming atmosphere and relaxing gameplay. In this way, Giraffe and Annika offers a nice change of pace for those that seek a counterweight to more intense gaming sessions.

Conclusion

Although Giraffe and Annika doesn’t offer the most challenging gameplay, we couldn’t help but be charmed by the game’s cute demeanor. It’s the perfect title if you want to play an adventure game that offers a relaxing experience. It may be a bit on the short side, especially for its price, but if you get over that hurdle, you’ll probably end up loving your time on Spica. 

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Rating: 7.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Giraffe and Annika (Switch) - Review, 7.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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