I wish to make a bold and dangerous statement. I have never played a Zelda game. There, I admit it. I owned one; Zelda Twilight Princess on GameCube, which I had to sell for far far less that it was worth due to sudden circumstance changes. With this awful statement out there, let me continue onward with this review.
When The Boy presents me with games and tells me no more than “Play this”, I am wary, given the previous content (I’m looking at you Doki Doki). This left me pleasantly surprised and a little giddy. There was a strange childlike joy that came from this game, and it was a rather relaxing experience as a whole.
You play as Yono, an adorable tubby baby elephant who has fallen from heaven. The image of this little fat boop bounding around is squee worthy, especially once you start customising his paint job. You do this by visiting one of the many salons dotted throughout the game, and there are customisation options that are unique to each city.
What I particularly enjoyed were the nods to other geek references which, whilst not subtle, were a fun little addition to an overall simple game. Playing as a tiny cloud elephant was a definite perk on particularly bad days, but tiny Darth Maul Yono was giggle inducing especially when falling off walls.
The game play is not difficult, in fact I would go so far as to say it was too simplistic. The main portion of the game is puzzle based, with a little bit of fighting thrown in for good measure, and whilst the puzzles did increase in difficulty, at no point did I ever feel taxed. A lack of direction was a much more pressing problem, especially during one of the boss fights where I stood staring at this giant dog for ten minutes going “Well what now?” As a result I completed this in around eight – nine hours overall, so not a long game by any stretch and I felt it lacking by the end. I had saved the world, but it didn’t feel like any great effort.
I’d almost say that the game had been aimed at children, except for one thing. The writing. Damn this game was a mix of incredibly dark and seriously philosophical. With one race being the resurrected dead and another sentient robots, all being repressed by the human Queen who seems to be suffering a large dose of sanity slippage, we run through discussions on existence and purpose, alongside thoughts on the study of death and pain. It’s quite jarring to have these deep thoughtful or disturbing comments thrown in amongst a game of bright bold colours and sweet noises. A joyful trumpet is met with a death rattle to start conversations, and this whiplash doesn’t stop or slow down at any point.
The side quests were about the most relaxed thing about the game, where all you’re trying to do is make someone happy by delivering and swapping items from person to person. Sure there’s that one quest where you are in fact committing treason, but it’s all for a good cause so that’s okay. The most annoying bit here, again, was lack of direction. One quest I did not realise that I could simply pick up the item that was required for a swap in order to proceed with the task at hand.
This is where most of my frustration comes in, that I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do for certain parts of the game and had thought that I’d missed key events or messed up a puzzle. My only solace was that it is quite difficult to mess this game up, and if you do miss a side quest then it has no effect on the main plot whatsoever. The letter challenge, when you come to it, doesn’t feel difficult when you have excess letters in the thousands and no clue what to do with them. I still don’t know if I missed something, but hey the lore was quite a cool addition to the story telling.
The plot is once more a simplistic affair, with several tropes and clichés all being ticked along the way. That said it was relaxing not having to think too hard after a day of work, or a horrible run in with excess emotions. Gets plus points in that it was also funny. Not laugh out loud funny, but enough to make me smile to myself at moments. Carrying and throwing chickens around is way too much fun. The hedgehogs are still pleasant, but not quite as good as the chicken squawk.
Overall it’s a distinctly average game. Sure it has its moments, but as a whole product you can’t help but feel meh about the experience. It’s definitely not bad, but I didn’t come away feeling satisfied as I feel I should from a gaming experience. Only massive plus point is that your protagonist is adorable, and sometimes that’s all you need.