Sephonie (XSX) Review
There is some 3D platforming. Some puzzle solving. And some story beats to enjoy.
Soundtrack is relaxing, casual, and mostly fits with the laid back approach to gameplay
Swapping between 3 playable characters with unlockable abilities is different
Unnecessarily different platforming controls – sprinting is like being on a skateboard
Some plot points feel forced and the opening hours can make you scratch your head
A platformer with puzzle game elements, Sephonie is a unexpected gameplay experience. Centering around three scientists that have been stranded on an island, the trio must work together, explore their environment, and create neuro links with animals.
The meat of the gameplay comes from typical 3D platforming traversal, complete with jump pads, grapple points, and dash moves. In time, new abilities become unlocked which makes backtracking and secret finding possible, giving the game a slight Metroid-ish tone. Although these spaces take inspiration from real life, they also include a fantasy aspect to them which provides a distance sense of charm from the purposely low-poly visuals. Also, sprinting is a little weird because you hold a button to make the character run which feels like you are riding a skateboard. It takes time to figure out this control scheme, but the lower difficulty only sets the player back a little ways if you do manage to succumb to a hazard.
In between platforming are puzzle games, used to link with wildlife. Here, the player must place Tetris-like piece on a grid with the goal of filling the space as much as possible according to color. Other than a couple puzzles near the end of the 8-hour campaign, these brief matching piece mini games are simple and breezy.
For a 3D platformer, there is a large emphasis place on narrative. Although there is a mild “going green” tone set within the story, each character’s history bubbles to the top over time. Some plot points, like how most characters are not heterosexual, can feel a little forced at times. However, the narrative is presented in a way that is confusing especially in the open hours. As if you were supposed to read the background in the instructional manual that shipped with the game, the plot can be nonsensical as it assumes the player knows things when it hasn’t been presented yet.
Sephonie, made by a small dev team, is actually a pretty weird game because it mixes 3D platforming with a puzzle game but almost presented as if it was a visual novel. Although it doesn’t hit all high notes, it hits the ones that are interesting, different, and unexpected. It isn’t your typical 3D platformer but provides some pleasant charm if players are willing to stick it through the opening hours.
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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