Monday, June 20, 2016

[REVIEW] Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus (Wii U)

Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus
Played on: Wii U
Genre: 2D adventure-platformer
Developer: Look at my Game / Storybird
Publisher: Aksys Games

The indie game scene has become pretty much the only place to get your fix of 2D metroidvanias, with quite a few excellent titles in the genre released over the past few years. Chronicles of Teddy, the latest of them to reach Wii U, is an interesting game to review, as its absolute excellence in adventure design is almost matched in intensity by the numerous development problems that used to plague the game upon release.

Chronicles of Teddy features only minimal storytelling, but this suits the game's mood very well. You play as an ordinary girl who is called upon by a magical teddy bear to help save a fantasy word, located through a door on her basement. The worldbuilding is awesome, with an ever-present ominous vibe permeating several intricately detailed, pixel-based locales. This is further exarcebated by the incredibly beautiful soundtrack, which is constantly veering across the melancholy and the eerie.

A huge library acts as an overworld hub; from there, you'll access the game's four excellently-designed main worlds, as well as several smaller locations and plenty of secrets as well. In true metroidvania fashion, each of the worlds feature a new piece of equipment, which helps you reach previously inaccessible sections. Aside from that, there are a bevy of collectibles as well, and the good news is that they're all consequential in some way. This means that backtracking for them pretty much never felt like a chore to me (even if more "quick-travel" options would be welcome), and the beautiful graphics and music certainly helped in that department.

Perhaps the best gameplay quirk is the musicom, an instrument that allows you to communicate to inhabitants of the world in their own music-based language. To do so, however, you must find runes, each of them representing a syllable and accompanying musical note. Not only that, you have to actually learn words from the inhabitants. It's a process that made the game that much more appealing to me, as I honestly had never seen something like that in such a game.

So yes, this was turning out to be a pretty unforgettable adventure... until the bugs started mounting. Most of them have thankfully been squashed by now, but that doesn't make the state the game was released in any less ridiculous. Often it would just freeze while you were going through a door. Sometimes the sound would glitch out (and remember, due to the musicom, the game is significantly sound-based). Other times, there were some pretty severe frame-rate drops (which remain to this day in some areas, like the secret Catacombs section).

Chronicles of Teddy wouldn't quite have been a ten without the glitches (combat, for example, can be a bit too dodgy sometimes), but it would be pretty damn close. With most of the bugs gone by now, this is a game I do recommend in a heartbeat, but the experience was certainly soured a lot due to the sheer amount of problems I experienced. This means my memories will be forever tainted by faulty development, and as they say, first impressions do matter.

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