Giraffe and Annika is a cute title about very little giraffe, and mostly about Annika, a young catgirl with amnesia who goes on a journey through a sort of fantasy-esque world because someone asked her to.
Giraffe and Annika is pretty much what I stated above, Annika wakes up in a meadow, not really remembering a whole lot, and a blue haired…dog person? Named Giraffe asks her to collect the three star pieces for him. These star pieces are hidden in dungeons that Giraffe can open, but not enter. As such, it is up to you, Annika, to traverse the dungeons and find the star pieces.
Giraffe and Annika is a…wonky sort of 3D puzzle platformer that finds itself somewhere between “acceptable platforming mechanics” and “good lord, why?”, sometimes brought on by mechanics, sometimes by design choice. Essentially, as Annika you walk around solving problems for the residents of Spica Island, and at first pretty much all you can do is walk, interact, and pick up items to store in your magic bag of holding. As you clear dungeons, you can unlock abilities, like the power to jump.
Most of the game is provided to you via the wonderful medium of 3D platformer and fetch quests of varying levels of “ugh”. The problems start when you realize that you control like a heavy slightly heavy balloon, instead of a young teenager with cat ears, and definitely not the reflexes. You slide, pushing blocks is like trying to shove a weightless box that’s attached to the ground, and before you get the dash ability, navigating the island may be best described as “long”, particularly if you don’t know where you are going or if you’re looking for all the collectible cat pictures. Yup, there’s collectible cat pictures, and most of them are actually pretty cute.
Oh, and did I mention the rhythm games? yeah, they’re a thing. You don’t have any “boss battles”, instead you’ve got a dance off where you have to reflect magic orbs while avoiding evil spirits or attacks. The rhythm games actually aren’t that difficult, especially on normal (despite what P.Y. may say), but they can get pretty challenging on the later stages. If you complete the rhythm challenge you’re awarded a score and a rank up to S. While I actually kind of enjoyed the rhythm games and there wasn’t anything inherently bad about them, I do want to state that the S rank requirements are actually kind of ridiculous. You need to be pretty dang good to get an A, and then you need to be, like, professional to get an S. And I thought it would be a relaxing platinum.
Giraffe and Annika feels more like a children’s game, or at least like it was designed with children in mind, most of the time, with colourful characters, a young and bubbly cast, and some pretty basic humour. And then it throws some really tough or annoying platforming challenges at you with enemies taking potshots at you from a tower nearby. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the swimming. I mean, you could at least use a separate oxygen meter instead of just having your health decrease while underwater. I mean, is it poisoned? Are you allergic? Coupled with the occasional enemy, and Giraffe and Annika has some of the most dangerous swimming I’ve seen since an old PC game I once played where you had to escape an old science facility, but it was underwater, and some of the swimming segments were so tight it was ludicrous. Holdover? I think it was called Holdover. At least there’s a bunch of crystals that are almost everywhere that will heal you if you stand near them. That doesn’t help with the “cat escort” mission though. P.Y. knows what I’m talking about, but good lord that was a pain.
Either way, you have no form of combat, just avoidance, platforming, and rhythm challenges. The mini quest type things you do for the residents can also be really vague sometimes, and if you don’t know where to find an item or where to go next, you could actually spend quite a deal of time looking for where you need to go. Coupled with the sort of outdated graphics and awkward animations, you really feel as if this is a first attempt at a game title. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however.
As far as I’m aware, the title IS the developer’s first title, and they did a pretty good job of it, all things considered. It does feel particularly geared for a younger audience, and is rather on the short side, but I quite enjoyed exploring Spica island and collecting cat pictures. It also helps that there was a good soundtrack, especially since there are rhythm portions. Despite the fact I spent two and a half hours trying to get S ranks on the hard versions of the rhythm games, I never got fed up with the songs, just the scoring system. At least that’s only for those completionists really. It also helps that the game is a quite reasonable price for what you get.