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Greak Is A Lush 2021 Throwback To The Lost Vikings
Genre: 2D Puzzle Platformer with 3 different protagonists
If there’s one thing missing in a 2D indie platformer, it’s the ability to control three different heroes all at once. Such is the case of Greak: Memories of Azur. This 2D platformer from Navegante and Team17 is a throwback to the classic 2D platformer The Lost Vikings where you have three different characters with various skills required to work together to escape a level.
Greak takes this idea one step further and make a Metroidvania style action-adventure game out of the concept. For the most parts, it does an adequate job.
Greak puts you in the shoes of three siblings: Greak, Adara, and Raydel as they have to escape their homestead from invading Urlag forces. The three are separated thanks to the war, so you have to take charge as Greak to find your siblings and run off together. The world you’re in is filled with Urlag warriors and plague zombies/monsters, so you’ll have to use your skills to sort them out and the environmental puzzles waylaid in front of you. Speaking of environments and the world, Greak is a heckuva looker of a title with its lovely-drawn backdrops and characters.
Part of the game’s hook that draws me in to this 7+ hour adventure is not just its 2D visuals, but also its unique three-player gameplay. You can switch between the three characters to solve puzzles, fight enemies, and make progress through the story.
Greak himself has a sword slash, a double jump, a dodge, and a tiny frame to crawl through tight spots. He also has the most inventory space among the trio. Adara can cast long-ranged bolts of energy, float, and hold her breath longer than Greak when swimming. Later on, you get to recruit a third playable character: your brother Raydel who has a grappling hook, a shield, and a longer sword and more hit points. He can’t swim though, probably because of all the weaponry he has, so he needs Greak and Adara to help push a raft for him to ride on.
All the levels and puzzles in Greak require you to use teamwork among your three playable light-favoured heroes. Well, TWO playable characters for the first half of the game, anyway. You’ll have to use Greak and Adara in tandem for many of the game’s puzzles like having the two of them use a see-saw to lift one of them to higher ground, having Adara do the swimming since she can hold her breath longer than her siblings, and crawl in tight spaces as Greak to reach to the other side to flip that switch.
There are a lot of nicely designed puzzles and levels that will make you think long and hard, and you’ll feel smarter once you’ve figured it all out on your own after exploring and experimenting with your character’s toolsets.
There are a few glaring flaws. For one, I have issues with the controls. First off: why do you need to have me rotate the analogue stick just to turn cranks? It gets tiresome after a long while.
The left and right triggers are used to control all three siblings at the same time and to call them to where your controlled sibling is respectively. They’re mostly useful, but for half of the time, you’re better off controlling them individually for the platforming segments.
And it might be just me, but I felt a slight tinge of lag in platforming and combat inputs. I played other action-savvy games just to be sure; they came out non-laggy. It’s probably the Xbox version of Greak, which hopefully gets fine-tuned.
All these little control issues start adding up, and with some of the later sections requiring some precision, it gets a tad frustrating at times. At the very least, the game doesn’t have a countdown timer or some bulls*** mechanic to make you rush through these puzzle segments. If you fail, just try again or just farm for ingredients to cook up more health curatives. Greak is generous with health powerups, so it’s not completely frustrating.
I should also point out that the game’s dialogue bits can get a bit too wordy, especially if you just want to shop for items or sell goods. There’s a lot of text to wade through from just confirming whether you want to buy or sell, and then a few more lines of text after confirming, and then having to start the conversation again because the game doesn’t let you go back to the buy/sell select bit after you’re done with one or the other. I’ll file this one under the “nitpicking” category, because it helps soothe the sting of the janky controls.
If it weren’t for that -the most important thing to nail in the genre- Greak would have been a top tier 2D platformer. As for now, it has to settle for the bronze medal for its art and ingenious idea of making platforming and puzzle segments using a trio of heroes.
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