Action Platformer Review

TEVI – Review

Tevi is a 2023 2D action-platformer developed by GemaYue, Ein Lee, and developer/publisher studio CreSpirit. The game is a follow-up, and spiritual successor, to their hit 2016 title Rabi-Ribi. Like its predecessor, Tevi is a Metroidvania game with a cutesy visual presentation and an emphasis on combat. Its signature flair is the presence of bullet hell mechanics typically seen in shoot-em-up games, in which enemies attack you with large clusters of colorful projectiles and lasers. Tevi follows the journey of the titular bunny-girl protagonist and her companions across the sprawling world of Az, as she uncovers the many secrets found within and unravels the dark past of her home.

Core Gameplay

Tevi’s gameplay sections are defined by strong combat and movement mechanics. Tevi herself has a repertoire of different ground and aerial melee combos, as well as ranged attacks with her orbitars (colorful laser guns) at her disposal. Her moveset has a smooth learning curve and becomes incredibly dynamic and fun to play around with as you unlock more abilities.

Whilst many of the game’s unlockable abilities are rather standard Metroidvania fare (e.g. air-dash and slide), they feel smooth to weave together during both exploration and combat sections. A personal favorite of mine is the pogo ability that lets you bounce off enemies’ heads to stagger and leapfrog over them, which is as practical as it is amusing. Basic enemies seldom felt like mindless obstacles, forcing me to consider whether to attack or dodge without either being a total formality, keeping things engaging.

Tevi has an equipment system where you can use a wide variety of collectible equipment (called sigils) to create fine-tuned loadouts to suit your preferred style for combat and exploration. Despite how many sigils there are, even with a few having very niche use cases, only a handful of them felt like worthless clutter. The degree of customization available to suit both personal playstyle and specific situations helped keep the experience from ever feeling solved or too samey.

Tevi - Bullet Hell

Tevi particularly shines with its bosses, thanks in part to the inventive use of bullet hell mechanics in these battles. There’s a certain thrill to learning how to just barely squeeze through the screen-covering attacks of bosses in bullet hell games unscathed, and Tevi translates that fantastically into a sidescroller. These fights are really where you get to make the most use of the game’s combat mechanics. I felt most bosses were sufficiently challenging while being very fair.

The game features several difficulty options, ranging from “Casual” to “Expert”, plus an additional difficulty called “Infernal BBQ” which unlocks after a completed playthrough. This can also be adjusted mid-playthrough to suit your skill level. I opted for Expert as I was familiar with many of Rabi-Ribi’s similar mechanics and wanted to experience more difficult boss attack patterns. I do wish that the game’s hardest difficulty was unlocked from the beginning, as my familiarity with the mechanics of its predecessor made this title a bit easier for me. The volume of options in sigils and abilities that you acquire can also start to make the difficulty curve a bit more uneven in later portions, as there were some fights I ended up brute forcing my way through. This ultimately proved a minor issue, however. Most areas and bosses took me a few tries to get through on Expert, and victory usually felt earned through skillful play rather than from under-tuned obstacles or enemies.

Tevi - Map Screen

The Journey

The world of Az is pretty massive, featuring well over a dozen unique, and often large, areas. Yet it’s also remarkably painless to navigate. There are plenty of save and warp points, enough that I rarely felt lost or spent too much time backtracking on foot. Should you meet your unfortunate end to an enemy or hazard while exploring (as I often did), the game has a somewhat generous auto-save checkpoint system. You also always respawn with at least half HP, which keeps you from the awkward situation of getting stuck in a difficult section at low HP.

One complaint I had was that the high frequency of visibly inaccessible spots that not-so-subtly say “you don’t have what you need to reach this yet” proved somewhat annoying and titillating in early game areas. Thankfully, this is mitigated by the ability to place markers on your map. You can place arrows, question marks, and other symbols to mark sections of intrigue on the map to return to when you have more abilities, which cuts down on any potential sense of aimlessness that can come with backtracking. I would personally love to see more games with a map function have a feature like this, as it’s quite practical while also giving the player an additional sense of agency with exploration.

Tevi - Cutscene Dialogue

Cracks In Ambition

Relative to most indie titles, Tevi is rather ambitious with how it attempts to handle its story. Most dialogue is fully voiced, featuring a rather noteworthy lineup of dozens of Japanese voice actors famous for some major roles in extremely popular anime and games. The localization has plenty of effort put into it to appeal to a broader audience. The script is polished and largely typo-free, and it reads naturally for the most part. A lot of resources were put into this game to make it as grand as possible, even with its comparatively small development team. Yet despite all these efforts, it falls short in its attempt to tell a compelling story.

Without spoiling the specifics, Tevi’s plot features many dramatic story beats like twist reveals and betrayals as the story ramps up in seriousness. Alas, the vast majority feel like they lack any real weight or emotional punch to be very captivating. Most plot and drama elements felt like they merely happened for the sake of it, not feeling well-earned or natural.

The main trio of the cast is Tevi and her companions Celia and Sable, a sort of angel-and-demon pair of humanoid magitech who serve as her assistants (and guns). Tevi herself has the personality of a smug gremlin at points, with many of the most memorable and amusing lines of dialogue. The character dynamic between these three is easily the most enjoyable narrative component of the writing, as their personalities mesh well and create some entertaining exchanges. Unfortunately, the plot and characters around them fail to stand out. There are plenty of characters you’ll encounter on your adventure, but few with much personality or intrigue to get invested in. Most felt like their role was to be an obstacle or someone to tell me what to do next, and many of them faded into irrelevance not long after being introduced.

There are a lot of cutscenes throughout that can rack up playtime, but the story and writing honestly felt lacking in meaningful things to say. The second half also felt considerably more rushed with its narrative, leaving me with plenty of questions that would never be answered. Several twists felt rather cheap as the narrative never really took much time to demonstrate the consequences of anything happening. There are some interesting worldbuilding aspects here and there, but these ultimately never felt as fleshed out or memorable as they could have been because of the less refined latter half.

Unfinished Business

While the weak story doesn’t diminish from the game’s combat, it did somewhat lead to a couple of the cracks I experienced in its design. Despite being a Metroidvania, Tevi is rather linear compared to many of its genre peers in terms of its progression and freedom of exploration. The game is structured into several chapters, and many key power-ups are obtained after (and thus locked behind) specific story cutscenes. It became annoyingly common for me to stumble upon a new area, realize I didn’t have what I needed to fully explore it yet, and end up leaving somewhat dejected. Being railroaded into playing the main story before I could sink my teeth into potentially intriguing new sections started to put a damper on the joy of discovery. There is a “Free Roam” option that opens the game up, but this is exclusive to New Game +, making it strictly a replay value function.

There are also a few areas that are not required to beat the game, and while they still have their collectible goodies, they felt insufficient and incomplete, seldom adding much to the experience on the whole. Many of these felt outright unfinished, especially later on, and some sections and features were completely inaccessible even after completing the game despite teasing them to the player.

While Tevi is a mechanically polished game with a lot to do, it still felt unfinished in several places. I was honestly left with a somewhat bewildered “Wait, that was it?” response when I concluded my first playthrough.

Tevi - Cherry Blossom Background


Tevi’s world features a diverse array of lovingly crafted pixel art scenery. Most of the game’s art aspects are very well done, between the various locales, sprite work, and animations. Screenshots honestly don’t do justice to how good this game looks in motion. My biggest gripe is that I have some minor problems with visual readability in certain areas, as it can be hard to tell what is or isn’t a platform on some screens. For the most part, however, the game is nice to look at, and easy enough to traverse the vast majority of the time. Despite how much appears on screen in certain areas or during boss attacks, most enemy bullets and animations have enough visual clarity that I had little trouble telling what was going on. I also feel like the character designs got a bit outlandish at times, even for an “anime-style” game, but they were at least very visually distinct.

Tevi’s soundtrack features around half a dozen composers and dozens of different styles of compositions. The various area themes each have their own vibe that enhances the experience of going through them, and several of the game’s boss themes are an absolute delight. That said, whilst the soundtrack is varied in style and the tunes sound good, I felt it lacked a bit in terms of personality, as few tracks carried a unique sound or vibe. Only a handful of tracks felt like they brought about much in the way of additional attachment to characters, narrative, or the world. It’s a very solid soundtrack with its share of highlights, but it’s missing an additional x-factor to take the experience to that next level.

Tevi - Underwater


Tevi’s greatest strength is in how much fun the game is to play with its actual mechanics. At its best, it’s an absolute masterclass in 2D action game design. Combat and movement flow together seamlessly to produce a fun and acrobatic gameplay experience that stands with the best of ‘em, regardless of whether we’re talking 2D or 3D, indie or AAA. The developers and publisher poured a lot of love and care into Tevi’s design and production. Unfortunately, it’s bogged down by a weak narrative that felt like more was put into its style than making something of genuine substance, resulting in some jagged and stunted edges. The incompleteness of its latter half led me to feel at least a touch of regret over what could have been.

Still, the areas in which Tevi makes good on its potential are more than worth your playtime if you’re looking for enjoyable action-heavy 2D games, Metroidvanias, or even bullet hells.


Platforms: PC

If you’re looking for another Metroidvania title, why not check out our review of The Last Faith?

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