Atelier Mimina isn’t a new entry in the Atelier franchise but rather a new independent studio that has just released their first game on consoles called Giraffe and Annika. NIS America is publishing it and since I’ve enjoyed a lot of their titles, I had to see what this one was all about. Its cute art style was what really drew me to it but how does the actual gameplay stand up?
Upon playing through the game, Giraffe and Annika is clearly something that a lot of younger players will likely enjoy the most since it is rather simple in a lot of ways with the story being one of them. You play as our cat eared protagonist Annika who ends up on an island called Spica. Annika has no idea of why she is there or much of anything else in her past. In order to regain her lost memory, you’ll have to help her find special star fragments. Annika is also joined by other characters such as a boy named Giraffe and a witch called Lily. A lot of the story is told through some well-drawn panels that look like you’re reading a manga or something. Again, it’s a simple tale meant more for younger players, so it didn’t grab me as much.
The gameplay isn’t much deeper as you can’t do a lot as Annika. Most of the gameplay involves just exploring the island, helping other people with little tasks, and venturing through dungeons. Some people might have you fetching an item or finding someone but none of the tasks were that interesting or the world for that matter. It just all felt kind of empty which while I understand this is from a small team and it’s their first game, I do still need to mention it. As you collect the fragments, you’ll gain some new abilities for Annika like being able to jump or swim. I feel like those two things being abilities you unlock through the game further highlight just how simple this game is. The controls felt alright, but the jumping did feel a little too floaty which made some of the platforming parts a little annoying.
The game has enemies in it but you don’t exactly battle them. Rather you pretty much just have to avoid getting hit by them while you make your way through an area or dungeon. If you take damage you can recover your health at one of many healing crystal points that are scattered about. Because those are so frequent to find it makes trying to avoid enemies not that important. There are even parts that ask you to play it stealthily but when I just ran through, I wasn’t punished for being seen.
At times during the game you are thrown into a music rhythm game against a foe. In these sequences you just need to move side to side and swing to attack. There are a few different difficulties you can pick from for these parts but no matter which one I did I felt like the movement felt a bit off. I don’t know if it was input lag, but it was noticeable. I still rather enjoyed these parts and felt like they were probably the best thing about the game. Outside of that there isn’t much else to the game other than the collectibles scattered about such as the Meowsterpieces. Anytime you get near one you’ll notice a certain icon telling you you’re close. For an older gamer like me they weren’t hard to find at all.
Outside of the comic panels that are drawn well the rest of the game is a bit of a mixed bag visually. The character models are cute and look good but some of the animation work isn’t. The environments also are kind of bland looking and make the game look like something from one or two generations ago. The soundtrack was pretty good though which was why those music sequences were the best part of the game for me. Those interested in the trophy list will find 33 of them in total including a Platinum. It’s a straightforward list for doing story stuff, finding collectibles, and beating all the music sequences on all difficulties. There is also one that has you beating the game in a certain amount of time.
Giraffe and Annika is clearly meant for gamers much younger than I but there were still some enjoyable parts to it for me. The story panels, soundtrack, and rhythm game were the parts I liked the most although the controls did make that last one a bit less enjoyable. Those same control issues also bring the platforming bits down a notch. I also wished the world had a bit more to do in it and that the visuals were a bit better. If the parts I liked sound enjoyable to you then join Annika in this relaxing action adventure game.
*Giraffe and Annika is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.