I love winding down with a good old relaxing adventure and Giraffe and Annika definitely fits the bill with its charming and chill world.
Giraffe and Annika stars the feline Annika who wakes up on the lovely island of Spica and of course, has amnesia. She's tasked with traversing the island and surrounding area in order to find star fragments which will hopefully restore her memories and they also provide her with additional abilities. It's pretty funny that the first one grants her the skill to simply jump. Anyway, she journeys forward alongside a fancy boy named Giraffe although he's not really a giraffe; he's more of a fox or something. Along the way, she meets more delightful characters such as the witch Lily and a bunny mommy and her 5 children. It's really simple stuff that feels like it's ripped straight from a children's book but it's presented wonderfully via easily digestible cutscenes and dialogue sequences. Whether you're feeding a turtle giant carrots, running away from ghosts, exploring for treasure, or simply taking in the view, it's an easy game to love.
To help flesh out the game world, Giraffe and Annika boasts a fantastic presentation, especially through its audio. I absolutely loved the soundtrack which is full of whimsical piano pieces and lighthearted arrangements that truly elevate the atmosphere to new heights. Plus, hearing Annika vocalize certain actions and reactions is cute, too. On the graphical side of the equation, the character models stand out as beautifully animated and lively which really pop but unfortunately, the environments leave a lot to be desired with their often polygonal appearance as if they're in a PlayStation 2 game. Thankfully, the watercolour artwork helps tie everything together.
Well, I've certainly discussed a lot about Giraffe and Annika without actually mentioning anything about its gameplay so let's get to it! Essentially, it's a 3D platformer where you traverse a somewhat expansive hub area while carrying out quests for the locals. Once you've done enough of that, you'll enter a stage door that only Annika has the power to go through. There, you basically work your way to the end then fight a boss via a simplistic yet challenging rhythm mini-game. On a very high level, that's really all there is to it.
The resulting campaign is laidback with no real consequences for failure so children can enjoy it and it also acts as a lovely experience to wind down with. That being said, Giraffe and Annika has its issues. For starters, it's one of those games where you can easily get lost and not know where to go or what to do next. Luckily, the areas aren't that large so you'll surely figure out how to progress after a bit of fumbling around. I wish there was a more straightforward progression mechanic because talking to Giraffe isn't always helpful.
Finally, the gameplay itself is disappointingly rough around the edges. The primary annoyance as I played is just how finicky the platforming is. I often over-jumped platforms, couldn't figure out how to emerge from water in time, and had enemies sneak up on me while I focused on the path ahead. Unfortunately, the rhythm game boss fights are rather clunky, too. All you do is move Annika left and right in order to avoid hazards and hit and hold notes in time. Sometimes, I'd flick the stick right to hit a note then miss it because she wasn't all the way right. It really is needlessly cumbersome and could use a lot of fine-tuning. Maybe there'll be a sequel that irons all this out.
Giraffe and Annika certainly isn't the kind of game that you'll enjoy for its gameplay. Instead, its main appeal is found in its adorable and whimsical world that's filled with lovely sights and sounds that are sure to put a smile on your face throughout the adventure.
- + Adorable graphics, story, and characters
- + Fantastic lighthearted soundtrack
- + Casual and laidback campaign that's great for kids and fun to wind down with
- - Platforming is often finicky
- - Rhythm game bosses are kind of clunky
- - It's sometimes easy to get lost