LifeisXbox’s Greak: Memories of Azur Review | Created by Navegante Entertainment and published by Team 17, Greak: Memories of Azur is a side-scrolling single-player game with hand-drawn animations, beautiful music, and a gripping story. You will take the role of three siblings: Greak, Adara, and Raydel to guide them through the lands of Azur. Alternate control between them and use their unique abilities to escape from the Urlag invasion and fly to safety on an airship.
ℹ️ | We played Greak: Memories of Azur for Eight Hours on Xbox Series S. This game is also available on Xbox One and S/X, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Microsoft Windows.
What we liked!
- The controls | At the heart of any good game, there must be a solid control scheme to back it up. With three characters to control at any given time, you are probably thinking this must be a bit of a nightmare. Quite the contrary. Essentially you only ever control one character at a time but holding down the left trigger will cause all of the other characters to follow you. They are then controlled by the AI to attack when an enemy is near. This also happens if you only take one character with you and an enemy approaches the other characters, making the whole system feel very solid. using the D-pad lets you switch between which character you are currently controlling. Swapping regularly is a good way to experiment with your surroundings since there are multiple ways to beat a puzzle. In a nutshell, nothing feels clunky and the controls have been a huge focus for the team, making sure that this feels good and works well with all characters.
- The art style | I am starting to admire the decision to make these hand-drawn sprites as a way of animating the game. Everything from the characters, the environments, foregrounds, and weather system is all drawn by hand and animated the same way. The game looks stunning in every way possible. Some of the best moments in the game are when the cinematics cut in and everything looks like it’s been pulled straight from a Studio Ghibli movie. One of my favorite scenes was when Raydel was introduced into the game. The whole scene screamed AAA action movie, yet all drawn by hand. The hair blowing in the wind, the capes fluttering as a draft comes in through a crack in the door. There is a lot to admire here and the attention to detail is very good.
- The puzzles | The puzzles in Greak: Memories of Azur are some of the most thought-out puzzle mechanics I have seen in a long time. Not only are the levels laid out in a clever way that makes the player think about what they are going to do, but each character you play has their own special ability which plays a big part in being able to complete the puzzle. For example, Greak has a crossbow and can double jump quite a distance, he can swim, but his breath-holding is not great. Adara can fire projectiles with magic since she is an Oracle, hold her breath indefinitely and also fly short distances. Raydel has a hook shot which he can use to launch himself up and towards any given direction, a shield to protect him from attacks and environmental damage, but can’t swim at all. The mixture of abilities will leave you managing your party to complete any given puzzle often. This means you may need to swim under huge rocks in the distance and up to turn a crank that lowers a bridge allowing Greak to cross. But then what about Raydel? Greak could use a flotation device to push over to Raydel in the water who can then be transported to safety, who can then use his shield to cover you from dangerous beams of light. The whole system here is very well thought out and requires a lot of thinking about how to approach each puzzle. There are instances where you can use multiple ways of beating each puzzle and no matter what way you choose, you will be left feeling satisfied with the result.
- The Music | The music in Greak: Memories of Azur has a cinematic score that you would find in most AAA titles. The orchestra soundtrack composed in house is an expressive and atmospheric jaunt that covers themes specially created to capture the experience of a unique adventure. All character sounds feel high quality, from jumping to landing and swinging your sword. All in all, there is a lot to like here.
- The enemy types | Boss battles aside, the enemy types in the game are a little thin especially given how long the game is. There are 2 types of aerial enemies, 6 types of ground enemies (all with largely the same attacks and patterns), and given that there are quite a few sections with water involved, no aquatic enemy types to prevent you from thinking about your trips in the water. The enemy types I enjoyed fighting the most were the tribal Urlag enemies. They use homing arrows, rope claws, and swords, and shields making them the more difficult enemies in the game to contend with. Unfortunately, though these enemies are introduced into the latter half of the game so your time contending with these is limited. Instead, you must fight the very basic slime monsters, pore shooters, and wild quadruped enemies that can be dispatched in a few hits. Hitting the enemy even once though tends to stagger the enemy meaning you can just mash the X button and dispatch them every time without taking any damage. Sometimes they feel more like a nuisance rather than a methodical way to stop you in your tracks.
- Too easy | As mentioned above, the enemy types can easily be dispatched with just a few hits. This leaves the game feeling all too easy to finish. Bosses are vacant as well from most of the game with only 4 bosses in total. Most of these as well have a very noticeable pattern when it comes to fighting them. In one section I was able to just stand on the edge looking down and pick off the boss using arrows, allowing me to unlock one of the more difficult achievements in the game. Puzzles are the game’s real strength here but they are few and far between to keep the game from being difficult. Sure, if you are thinking of getting the game for a child then be prepared to help them solve some of these as they can be very tricky in places. The labyrinth section in the final act of the game is where you will spend most of your time figuring these out. What the game would have benefitted from here is a difficulty mode, having harder to beat enemies, harder bosses, and more confusing puzzles. This would have at least added a better challenge for more veteran players of the genre.
- Cooking | The added feature of cooking in the game felt a little tacked on. Throughout the game there are numerous cooking pots that you can use to combine certain ingredients to create either useless and potentially harmful food or food that adds additional benefits to your character like extra health. Throughout the game you will encounter plants and seeds that you can pick up and add to your inventory. Adding these ingredients to the pot up to a max of 3 items will produce an item used to heal you. It’s a shame since the game doesn’t add a recipe book so you can keep track of what works and what doesn’t, meaning there were occasions where I almost died because I ate something that I shouldn’t have. Ultimately it feels like a missed opportunity and more could have been done here.
What we disliked
- The Dialogue | For such a simple game there is an awful lot of dialogue here that isn’t even relevant to the story. For a design choice, I can see that they did this to probably make more of the NPC’s feel alive. This normally wouldn’t be a problem but I feel it could be shortened down. Even the story which has your usual run-of-the-mill, “this is the problem, here is how we solve it”, there is a lot of dialogue that can be skipped over or could be deemed as irrelevant. For the most part, especially after the first 2 hours or so of reading walls and walls of text, I started skipping through it just so I could progress. None of the skippings prohibited me from discovering where I needed to go next or what I had to do thanks to a handy journal that summarised everything and told me specifically where I had to go on a clear and concise map which you can check at any time.
- Lack of options | I would love to have seen a difficulty selection added to the game to help make some of the slower sections more entertaining. As mentioned earlier, enemies are just outright simple to beat and offer almost no challenge. There are also optional tombs to beat in the story which grant the player additional health points. Seeing these added to the menu to try and beat would have been a good inclusion as these were some of the more challenging areas of the game if discovered. I found them all on my first playthrough but adding more could have been a nice way of adding more content to the game.
How long to beat the story | 8+ Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 20+ Hours
Similar with | Teslagrad and Hollow Knight. The art style, puzzles, and mechanics work largely the same way.
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Gaming is in my blood. Be it handheld games, Xbox, PC, Switch or Playstation, I am all over it.
I make my own games as part of my profession and love playing co op games with friends in my spare time. Avid dog lover and camper van enthusiast.