Developer Analgesic Productions has teamed up with indie publisher Ratalaika Games to port their 3D narrative puzzle-platformer Sephonie to consoles. I went hands-on with the PlayStation 5 version and here is my verdict on whether or not this one is worth your time.
The narrative in Sephonie revolves around three different scientists all from different parts of the world. These three characters head to the mysterious island of Sephonie for research purposes but end up being shipwrecked on the island upon arrival. There seem to be mysterious forces at work here so they’ll have to explore the island to uncover the secrets. Our three characters are Amy, Riyou, and Ing-wen Lin and each of them has something called an ONYX link that lets them connect with the various creatures and such they’ll find on the island. The narrative is told is visual novel like segments and while I got to know the characters over the course of the story, I never really felt that interested in it. Some of that is due to the writing that felt a bit messy. Things also didn’t seem to reach a well-executed end point leaving me with a feeling of “that’s it?”
The core of the game is the gameplay though which is mostly 3D platforming but also some match-3 puzzle solving. You can play as any of the three characters although they all play the same so it makes no difference. Having played many, many platformers in my life I felt very comfortable with the concepts here although the execution on the developer’s part is messy in parts. You’ll be running and jumping as you explore the island but things like some floaty feeling jumps and angles make it hard at times to tell if you’re going to land where you need to. I frequently found myself missing jumps and having to restart. There is also wall running which you’ll have to do to reach certain areas but again this doesn’t feel as good as it should and because of that I ended up frequently falling. Finding your way around is also a bit of a problem as the map isn’t helpful at all.
The block matching puzzles are the other part of the gameplay that you’ll encounter when you try to link up the animals and flora on the world. I didn’t particularly enjoy these puzzles as they just felt like busywork. All you do is match up different colored blocks with each other to form a shape in a very Tetris way. Some other factors come into play in these as you progress but none of it made me like them more. The only other thing I will touch on about the game is the visuals which have a low-poly style to them that are kind of charming but lack detail in many spots too.
Sephonie is an interesting puzzle-platformer but one that didn’t leave a lasting impression on myself. The sci-fi story didn’t do much for me, the platforming and puzzles needed more work to make them more enjoyable, and the visuals aren’t very detailed. There is plenty of options to make it so anyone can get through it but I think there are many better options in the genre out there to spend your time on.
*Sephonie is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.