Published on May 2nd, 2021 | by Alex Prakken
Effie Switch Review
Summary: A dysfunctional port of an otherwise solid and charming platformer.
Nintendo Switch ports are alluring to developers. After a game has success on PC or another console, the obvious next step is to bring the title to Switch to play on the go, and access a new fan base. Many Switch ports are spectacular; Dragon Quest XI and Ori and the Blind Forest to name a few. But the transition to Switch also comes with a host of new technical challenges on a far less powerful processing system, and some games don’t make the transition as gracefully. Unfortunately, Effie falls under this category. Though having a solid and lovable core, Effie’s technical issues keep it from being a standout, or even functional Switch experience.
The game opens with an old man named Galand telling a story to his (grand?)daughter Effie. Though once a strong and handsome lad, Galand is cursed with old age for refusing to aid a girl with her chores. Through platforming, open exploration, and fighting his way through a mystical, medieval world, Galand strives to regain his youth by hunting down Melira, the evil witch who cursed him. Though a somewhat antiquated tale, Tyler Fultz’s strong voice acting performance fleshes out Galand’s noble and dorky personality. The claymation style graphics make the world feel like a Pixar movie toy box; perfectly encapsulating the essence of a bedtime story. However, certain presentation aspects fall short; Melira’s voice performance is lacking, and subtitles are commonly not the same words spoken by the voice actors.
Effie’s run time is brief, but feels like a condensed yet satisfying adventure. Platforming is the main course and Galand feels, for the most part, great to control. Using a double jump and a dash, Galand will explore dungeons, solve puzzles, and beat up a lot of monsters. There are four main chapters of the game, all of which have great level design and never outstay their welcome. Platforming is engaging, and exploration is encouraged through the collection of rune stones, which allow Galand to level up and gain health and stamina. And with no penalty for dying, aside from an abysmally long load screen, players can experiment with their platforming prowess.
Though platforming is solid, combat is dissimilarly pedestrian. Using his shield’s strong and weak attacks, Galand will bash his way through countless monsters. Combat is particularly painful in the early stages of the game, as Galand will perish after only a few hits. I found the only strategy for survival to be isolating individual enemies and taking them out one at a time. Though with the accumulation of more health and some very overpowered combat abilities such as the shield boomerang, fights eventually becomes a breeze. Unfortunately there is never much middle ground; Galand is either devastatingly weak, or crushingly powerful.
In-between dungeons Galand can hop on his shield and ride around a vast open field to reach his destinations. Though shield surfing is efficient and satisfying, the world feels relatively empty aside from a few hidden relics, which flesh out the world’s slightly flimsy lore. And with no map to aid the player, its easy to get lost, or ride around aimlessly looking for a secret that just doesn’t exist.
Though I would consider most of the previously listed faults as minor or simply inconvenient, technical issues are the game’s greatest ailment. From its initial tutorial to the final boss, frame rate issues severely plague Effie. Though running relatively fine in smaller, less detailed areas, the moment enemies appear on screen or platforming challenges become saturated with hazards, the frame rate suffers immensely. These issues would interfere with platforming precision, enemies appearing on screen, and even entire settlements popping in and out as I moved closer to them. This is especially unfortunate because Effie’s best moments come during chaotic platforming challenges in boss battles, but the game’s refresh rate simply isn’t up to the challenge, as it was very common in these sections to missing upwards of 30 FPS.
I think this moment perfectly sums up my experience with Effie: I was attempting to make a precise jump dash to grab a ledge. I made the jump well enough, but my angle was ever so slightly off. Instead of grabbing the ledge, Galand found himself stuck in his hanging animation and starting floating around in midair. The frame rate began to drop, and the words “At that moment, Galand couldn’t do that” repeated endlessly into my headset. I had to turn the game off to escape the glitch. Though this might have been frustrating in another context, I had come to expect nothing less from Effie, and all I could do was laugh, and in some weird way, loved Galand for trying his best.
I want to stress this point: Effie is not a bad game. Strong platforming and charming world and characters make this a valid option for those looking for a bite size 3D platformer…if you are playing on PC or PlayStation. Once I accepted the fact this port was flawed, I was able to see through the bevy of technical issues to a solid core and enjoyed my adventure. However, in its current state, I simply cannot recommend playing Effie on Switch; its technical issues are too grave and crippling to make it a rewarding and non-frustrating experience. Hopefully these issues will be remedied, but at this moment, Galand couldn’t do that.