It's hard to resist the latest Metroidvania and here's one that lets you play as 3 unique siblings within a beautiful puzzle-filled world.
Right off the bat; let me just say that Greak: Memories of Azur is one of the best-looking and sounding indie games that I've played in my life. You play as a few siblings who are on a mission to save their land from the invading Urlag. Its game world is presented with beautifully-rendered environments and smoothly-animated characters to create quite a striking and stylish visual aesthetic. On top of that, you're treated to an absolutely mesmerizing orchestral score and spot-on effects which simultaneously come from the DualSense controller to create a highly immersive soundscape. Speaking of the DualSense, Greak: Memories of Azur utilizes it brilliantly with the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback making platforming and combat super-engaging. It's one phenomenally-presented experience.
Of course, all of that wouldn't add up to much if the gameplay wasn't enjoyable so thankfully, it is; for the most part. In addition to running and jumping around, you'll also battle enemies with a combination of melee and projectile attacks depending on your current character. Now that I mention it, you can swap between siblings Greak, Adara, and Raydel after you unlock the latter 2. Each character has their own traits such as how Adara can swim for longer and Greak can shimmy through narrow tunnels. Anyway, using a blend of the characters to solve somewhat elaborate puzzles is a treat although many of these puzzles are rather obvious and simply require some busywork to complete. All of this comes together to compose an intriguing formula that ranges from tedious to rewarding.
When it comes to combat, Greak: Memories of Azur will have you battle an assortment of creatures as well as bosses that generally aren't a huge step up from regular enemies. To be frank, combat is the weakest aspect of Greak as it can get quite annoying for multiple reasons. First, you really have to keep your eyes peeled because the enemies often blend into the environments so you may be taken by surprise. Next, certain attacks render you defenceless. For example, performing a downward-thrust on some enemies will result in them taking a swipe at you when you're in mid-animation so there's really no avoiding receiving damage in these scenarios. You also have to be careful not to enter a dialogue screen via interacting with a key item and such around foes because they will damage you.
On the plus side, there's a nifty heal system where you collect ingredients, deposit them in a pot whenever you come across one, and create your own heal items. I enjoyed trying different combinations although I would have liked to have a recipe book to assist with this. The downside is that your inventory fills up almost instantly so you have to constantly use, sell, and drop items. You can expand your slots occasionally but doing so still doesn't feel like enough. Limiting the player like this doesn't make the gameplay more fun.
Finally, something that irritates me in this day and age is when games don't offer an appropriate sense of direction nor provide a method to get your bearings. Once, every single quest in my log had nothing but non-descriptive text, I had no waypoints, none of the NPCs said anything remotely helpful, and all I could do was wander around aimlessly. Oh, and story quests and side-quests are blended together so you'll rarely know what to do in order to progress. I once spent hours searching the game world for a key item; that's not cool.
Greak: Memories of Azur is one of the most beautiful games out there with its captivating visuals and immersive audio. However, its gameplay is riddled with issues such as vague progression clues and clunky combat which make the experience frequently frustrating.
- + Interesting blend of combat, puzzles, and character-swapping
- + Gorgeous visuals and sound design
- + Nifty heal item creation component
- - Sense of direction is so vague that making progress can be burdensome
- - Combat could use a lot of fine-tuning
- - Limited inventory is irritating