Giraffe and Annika has been on the market for several months now. I received my code around release and I quickly finished half of the game. I fully intended to finish it and write a review in the following days, but that all changed. As I continued, I noticed it appealed to the younger demographic – my niece was interested. So, I asked for help and she agreed. Giraffe is cute, and Annika is adorable, so I knew I’d have her full focus. She also speaks her mind – a natural already. NIS America were on board with my idea and I’m eternally grateful for that. While it took a bit to line up a few consecutive hours, I finally did it. So without further ado, let’s see if Giraffe and Annika will purr, or if it needs a de-clawing.
A DELIGHTFUL STORY!
The narrative begins as Annika slowly awakes to the sound of flapping wings. A bird hovers over her as she shoots up to her feet. Nearby, she sees a familiar house and makes her way over – it belongs to a woman named Lisa. Annika looks within to find that she isn’t there. Feeling dejected, she’ll come out to find a man standing outside the porch – Giraffe. He approaches and greets her before explaining his presence. In the midst of his chatter, he mentions Star Fragments. Giraffe then asks you to collect them – to which there are three – because he can’t; a Felycan is the only one able, and that’s you.
Giraffe and Annika is a short adventure that’s rather heartfelt. As the Felycan girl, you’ll be conquering dungeons and taking part in what I’ve dubbed “rhythmic combat”. Upon beating each one, you’ll collect powers that’ll allow you to progress further. While the mechanics won’t be robust, there’s a certain charm. In fact, my niece had a choice few words:
Those bunny rabbits are cute!
That’s right – personified animals inhabit the island. The interactions are wholesome and sometimes silly. While this journey will be a fast romp – my time was six hours – it’s quite enjoyable with the right company.
SOFT PIANO TONES!
Upon booting up the game, I was greeted with a chilling piano piece. When my niece heard it, she loudly proclaimed:
THIS IS CREEPING ME OUT!
I interpreted her words as her acknowledging the haunting, melodic flow of the music. Then, when I got into the game itself, I noticed that she was smiling. I honestly don’t blame her as the over-world theme is quirky. The way that the flute whistles just pulls a cheerful reaction from you. It’s a theme that plays out through the entire game. I was on a roller coaster of emotions the whole time. I didn’t expect the fully instrumental based OST in Annika and Giraffe. I’m happy it wasn’t chip-tune though as it would’ve missed out so much. Not only would the emotional impact not be the same, but it would be a lesser experience. I’m of the belief that the musical score is the best part of this title.
DEATH BY MUSICAL NOTES!
For those that grew up with Guitar Hero, the battle system will feel reminiscent. As already said, boss battles happen in “melodic combat”. You’ll have to press the action button in sync with the beats in the respective song playing. There are three difficulties to choose from, and I think my nieces words accurately paints an image to how challenging it can be:
That’s going so fast!
While “easy” and “normal” won’t test reflexes, “hard” certainly will. It’ll demand your utmost attention as green spheres hurl towards you. I was having a lot of fun trying to keep up and I found myself striving to get better scores. It’s the same addiction I felt playing Guitar Hero in my youth. There were times my niece would be cheering me as I feverishly tapped all the buttons:
You’re really good, Uncle Fern!
It helps that the music that accompanies each fight is kind-of-absolutely catchy. My favorite is during the second boss. It almost sounds to be inspired by the Beach Boys – rather fitting as it’s in a beach area. My niece even began to dance as she smiled, so it’s child approved. I began dancing as well and we had a good time, despite my losing.
Although, I must question the decision to have Annika lose health when scoring anything less than “Great”. In other words, the precision of your tapping will be measured in three ways: ‘miss’ is self-explanatory, ‘ok’ is when you’ve barely made it, ‘good’ is sufficient enough to a concise hit, with ‘great’ representing the exact timing. As I’ve said, the “hard” difficulty gets tough and so, I ended up losing a lot in the last fight, even if I never missed a note. It was very frustrating, especially when working towards unlocking special photos.
HEY LOOK, A COLLECT-A-THON!
Mashing buttons in-sync with the beat isn’t all you’ll be doing. Within each level, you will find what is cleverly called “Meowsterpiece” – a pun after my own heart. What I found really neat is that each one is essentially fan art that always has a furry feline in it. It matched the atmosphere of Giraffe and Annika perfectly. My niece felt the same way and some of the pictures seemed to be a big hit with her.
Uncle Fern, that cat‘s silly!
There are 30 in total, and you’ll unlock a few nifty items as you gather them. For those that love achievements, there’s plenty of in-game ones to complete and achieve. Collect, speed-run, and even eating at a gluttonous rate are all things you’ll need to do. Give this journey some meat to its bones.
I’m impressed by the smooth, fluent character movements, especially when dancing. In all of the boss battles, a purple-haired woman jumps and dances around. My niece was a fan of hers but questioned what she was doing:
Why is she doing that?
I never encountered any stuttering in my time with Giraffe and Annika. Although, in my initial run a couple of months back, I did run into a glitch. The game soft-locked on me but the good news is I was also trying to break it – I’m a reviewer after all. I bring this up not because it still persists, but because in my second go-around, it was smooth sailing as I wasn’t actively trying to mess with it.
AND THE CATTY VERDICT…
Giraffe and Annika is a charming and simple adventure. It’s relaxing, and definitely one I feel better suited as a gaming experience with a child, niece, sibling, or nephew. I loved the comic strips sporadically placed to tell the tale. They’re all beautifully drawn and my niece is in agreement. My favorite part and what surprised me was the OST – it’s wonderfully done. I’d share a comment from my niece but she spent most of it dancing as I battled. The inclusion of fan-art is a nice way to include fans, and making a short collect-a-thon out of it was clever. It never felt like that feature was shoe-horned in.
Again, I can’t recommend this title for adults. I don’t feel like there’s a mechanic here that will grab you. That didn’t matter though because what I loved most was what it gave me and my niece. We had lots of fun together and since I’m really trying to bring her into the gaming world, I can’t put a value on this. I feel like it’s helped me further wedge that door open. As a reviewer, I obviously have to so in that regard, I can say that;
GIRAFFE AND ANNIKA IS RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN
Special thanks to NIS America for providing the code for the purposes of this review.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.