Developer: atelier mimina | Publisher: PLAYISM || Overall: 8/10
Giraffe and Annika is a quick adventure game set on Spica Island. As Annika, you’ll explore the island and discover secrets, run through dungeons, and do some other interesting things. While waiting for “the shoe to drop,” I was expecting a heel turn from Giraffe, since despite being a titular character, he is suspiciously powerful and doesn’t do much. I wasn’t exactly correct in my assumption, but the mystery of what is going on in the big picture is hinted at but not spelled out until the end. What ends up happening is that we get a nice little adventure game with a heartfelt story, similar to the movie Spirited Away, in a sense.
So, it is a mixed bag here. The graphics aren’t terrible, but they certainly don’t look modern. A lot of the assets feel like stock assets included in whatever engine the game is using. At the same time, there’s a lot of customized graphical work that has some charm, so it isn’t for a lack of effort the way the game looks — probably just resources. The team seems pretty small and a lot of the effort went into music.
There are a number of characters you are introduced to on the island, probably around 12 in total, half being rabbits. There are also some non-hostile ghosts who do some of the “manual labor” of the island such as operating boats/trams/etc, but they don’t have any real personality outside of the hat they are wearing. Lily, the main antagonist in the story, actually has motion-captured animations and dances around during the boss fights, which is nice. Additionally, you could probably jerk off to her since she’s kinda hot, so there’s that.
The music is an integral part, though not emphasized enough to call this a “musical game.” While most of the game is actually a series of light puzzles where you run through stages, the “boss” of each stage is a song/rhythm mini-game. The rhythm game is actually pretty simple; you either move Annika left or right and press a button at the right time for each orb that is lobbed towards you. Some orbs are dangerous and have to be avoided, but generally there isn’t much trouble getting through it.
However, to get 100% on the boss stages is a different story, and you’ll likely have to memorize at least a portion of the boss stages to get through with a high rank. There are also 3 difficulty levels for each boss stage and you can play at any time (once you beat them), so there’s certainly “enough” of a point to the boss mini-game to have it exist. There are only 5 boss stages, however, which goes to the brevity of the overall experience.
Most people should be able to get through in less than 8 hours. I fell asleep a couple of times while playing, so there’s definitely some time that could have shaved off my total. Generally, the game is a very light puzzle/platforming/running game with sprawling levels. One level actually has well-designed puzzles that require you to time things correctly — but it’s still pretty easy.
In general, I’d suggest the game could be playable by young kids, maybe around 8 years old, though they may not understand anything that’s really going on. The story isn’t particularly “for adults,” but does deal lightly with death and puts the story in that context once you complete it. It’s probably a game for “everyone” at the end of the day, especially since there is no combat.
There is also a collection of “Meowsterpieces” to find across the island, which are pieces of art. When you find them, they get added to a collection, and at certain points you can turn them in for prizes, such as clothing for Annika. There is a minimum requirement to gather around 16 of them to get a ticket to advance to the last stage, so you do need to collect some, but not all, of the art.
I guess the crappiest part is the running animations. It all looks like everyone is gliding across the ground instead of actually walking on it. It makes the game look cheap and more low-effort than it actually is, which isn’t a great impression when you first load up the game.
I would probably have enjoyed it more if there were more difficult platforming puzzles in the dungeons. However, I wasn’t particularly inclined to put that much effort into it if I got stuck, so it would have been a fine line to walk. I took a long break after not being able to find the rabbit kids in enough time, and that is about two hours into the game.
I enjoyed the game enough to beat it, which isn’t something I usually do. The game held my interest enough at a certain point to continue with it and try to beat it. The story is pretty thin, but interesting. I’m glad I played this, though I suppose I was hoping for something a little more weird/off the rails.