Don’t be fooled by the heartwarming visuals, Greak: Memories Of Azur is quite a tough game and not a walk in the park – forest, marshes – wherever the quest takes you.
You play as the titular Greak – one of three Courine siblings. At first, he’s on his own but soon teams up with his sister Adara, later brother Raydel. You, as the player, can then control each one by using the d-pad to select them. Do note that you’re going to need to be pretty swift in your selections.
Once reunited, the goal is to build an airship and escape Azur from the invading Urlags, but getting there is full of fetch quests to build said vessel. Greak: Memories Of Azur is a side-scrolling adventure for solo players (though a two-player option would have been great). While you predominantly control one character at a time, interchanging each one to hold open a door, solve a puzzle or because their ability is suited to the job, you will need to control more than one at a time.
Greak: Memories Of Azur Review (PS5)
There’s no AI here – you have to do it yourself, though you can regroup them with R2 (if close) and holding L2; they’ll move together, mimicking your actions on the controller. The problem here is that some move faster or jumping skill behaves differently, so they often get out of sync. If you’ve played anything similar to In My Shadow or Mina and Michi, you’ll know what a challenge it is to multitask!
The story begins with finding your family members, completing side quests to improve your abilities, earn some gems to buy new gear and consumables. You’ll have a temporary base to return to each time when completing a mission and when adding components to the airship. Getting back to the base is often the tricky part, and in my case, one of the main reasons my adventure came to an abrupt halt. Fast travel locations are available once you find them, but it costs to use them, and if you don’t have any gems left, you can find yourself in a very frustrating position.
While undergoing a quest, I entered a lair, cleared all the enemies then returned to a previous area as I didn’t haven’t the gems for fast travel. Running through an old area should guarantee some enemies and drops, but there were no drops despite the respawns, so I’d have to return to the beginning via the scenic route.
We All Have A Purpose
Greak can crawl through small tunnels, but his siblings can’t. Ok, let’s solo this, get back to the base, earn some money, then fast travel to another location. The problem here is I needed another character to help with a catapult device, or at the least, open some gates. Without them, I couldn’t do anything and as drastic as it sounds, I started a new game as there’s only one save file per story. The only way to correct this is to grind the area, hoping to get one more gem to trigger fast travel. As a result, I’m pretty much stuck at the moment, hence the lack of score for this review.
Each party member behaves similarly, but as per the tunnel scenario, some of the siblings behave differently, so you’ll get good usage out of all of them. This isn’t a case of move the character you don’t like to a safe position and do the rest with one. They’ll get attacked when left alone (and it’s game over and back to the last save if any of the party die). You’ll likely need them to activate a trap or similar so you can move forwards, so holding L2 will have them accompany you at all times. These puzzles were typically tricky but were very welcome in the scheme of things as you’d have to mix up a little bit of problem-solving with your platforming skills.
The combat in Greak: Memories Of Azur is relatively simple with melee and ranged attacks – a few new moves unlocking as you progress. It’s not that enemies hit hard as such, but due to the frequency of respawning and the time it takes to heal, getting into a battle can be a bit frantic. You’re able to use potions and mix up ingredients to restore your health, but there’s an ever so slight delay for it to work and far too many times where I’d heal mid-fight but would take a hit while the consumable ‘registered’. It’s not a dramatic pause, but it’s noticeable.
Big Hands, Small Pockets
By default, you can’t carry much in your inventory. Similar items stack so that you can use fires to create new recipes, but it’s recommended to expand your capacity when you have the chance. Alas, it only applies to one character at a time and not for all members – the same for upgrades, though these are usually specific to the character anyway.
Without a doubt, this situation I found myself in where I was unable to return to the base or complete any further side quests was a big deal. Outside of that, my only real beef with Greak: Memories Of Azur was how scheming it was. When you see your first hand-drawn cinematic, you’re like putty in the hands of Navegante Entertainment and Team17. This game is so charming on so many levels – from the cute character designs through to the fantastic score, there’s no doubt that you can freely associate it as beautiful throughout. I’m biased as been a fan of cutscenes since point and clicks, but they’re so rewarding here – it almost begs for a spin-off animation, no?
Presentation can’t salvage a bad game, though, but I can confidently tell you that Greak: Memories Of Azur is very good. The platforming is tight, combat is simple yet effective, and the puzzle elements when working with your siblings are satisfying; first, you work it out, and second, you execute the plan and succeed. It is a somewhat challenging game at times, what with the delay in healing, but as mentioned, the hardest thing for me was this apparent wall of not returning to the base due to not having the funds to fast travel. I’ll investigate once again and update this review accordingly.