I have played quite a few platformers in my time and I absolutely love them. The on-the-go puzzle solving nature of these games really captivates me. So, when I heard of a new side-scroller platformer where you can control more than one character simultaneously, I was instantly intrigued. I have never seen a game like this before and I was ready to dive headfirst into Navegante Entertainment’s new game, Greak: Memories of Azure on the PlayStation 5.
So, what is Greak? To start with, Greak is the name of the main character. One of three siblings lost in the land of Azur that is under attack by an evil force known as the Urlag. The natives of Azur known as Courines have defended the lands for years. However, the Urlag have become too strong and the Courines now have no choice but to flee.
The game starts out with the player in control of Greak. As you make your way across the land, the game shows various basic movement skills on screen and you encounter some Urlag to get used to the fighting style of the game. After the first area, you are then introduced to the first sibling, Adara. You’re prompted to switch characters by pressing the directional pad on the controller and we can now move around as the other character. Adara is a magical being, with a ranged magical blast and the ability to float for a short period. After solving some puzzles, the siblings are reunited, and you can now control both. This mechanism of the game takes a hell of a lot to get used. I can say that I have never played a game with this functionality before. Once you reach the end of the area together, the game cuts to Greak, awakening from sleep in a little village. It is clear that this was a dream, and your main mission is to locate your missing sister.
After speaking with the townsfolk, you are tasked with obtaining materials to fix an airship that will aide in their escape. You are given a map (to be honest, it isn’t even a map, only showing waypoints with no detail whatsoever) and you are on your merry way.
My first impressions of Greak: Memories of Azu were fantastic, the hand-drawn artwork style is stunning, and it was clear that a lot of effort went into this game to make it visually appealing. Combined with the beautiful music and fluid character movement, I was instantly reminded of one of my favourite platformer series, Ori. However, it is when you engage with more than one character at a time that the frustration begins.
It is very cool to be able to control both at the same time, but it isn’t without its flaws. For example, Greak has double jump, where as Adara has the float ability. In order for both characters to reach a ledge together, you have to remember to hold the jump so Adara can float, or she will just fall to her demise. Otherwise you can split the movements to one character at a time, thus making the area more time consuming to pass through. Fighting is as equally as frustrating when doing so together. It was even more evident at the first boss fight. The AI of the uncontrolled player is very janky and not overly reliable. I found at times during a fight that the other player character just fell of the ledge for no apparent reason. The concept of this style of gameplay is very unique and while I can see the appeal, I believe there is much needed work to make it less frustrating. This was only with two characters and I can only imagine the increased frustration of adding the third sibling, Raydel, to the mix.
There are some real positives from this game and some that are unique to the PlayStation 5 experience. As mentioned, the art style and music are stunning, but it is the DualSense Controller Haptic Feedback that really impressed me. It is honestly the first game I’ve played on the PS5 that has really showcased the immersive haptic feedback feature. It wasn’t until I had control of two characters that this really came to the forefront. If you are not in range of the second character, the ability to link the two characters isn’t possible. As a result, the L2 trigger is really hard to press, as if to say “no can do”. Once you are in range, the trigger moves freely. Same for the R2 trigger to call your second character to your location. It only moves freely when the move is possible. The feedback from fighting, shooting arrows and taking damage is also fantastic to feel.
Overall, I don’t think I really enjoyed this game as much as I had hoped. I really do love my platformers, especially those of the side-scroller variety. However, the beautiful look and sound of this game sadly doesn’t do enough for me, and Greak just has too many flaws in the multi-character movement that I just couldn’t get past. I am sure if I stuck with it, I’d get used to it, but I’m not sure I’m ready to put myself through that frustration to reach that point. I am glad I got the chance to play this game though, and that I had opportunity to experience this unique game style.
If you are up for a challenge, I would definitely recommend giving Greak: Memories of Azur a go. At less than $30 AUD on the PlayStation store, it isn’t going to break the bank. I just cannot help but think how this game could be have been so much better with the addition of a second player in couch co-op mode.
Greak: Memories of Azur is available digitally on PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S and on PC via Steam.