Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony Of Exidus just came out for PS4 and WiiU and it continues the proud Aksys tradition of tackling long titles onto their games. Luckily, another tradition was also honored – the game is a creative take on the platform genre many refer to as “metrovania”. Here’s our review.
In terms of visual style, Chronicles of Teddy looks a little like Sayonara Umihara Kawase – both titles have a Japanese retro element to them, are clearly inspired by the 8-bit and 16-bit game that came before. Chronicles of Teddy, however, is an entirely new IP and plays very differently as well. It starts out as a very basic platformer – a lot like the platformers of the 80s, with a limited set of moves and clunky combat. A little like Wonderboy, but without the fond memories of playing it 25 or 30 years ago.
After that uncertain start – which feels a little too retro – things quickly get better as you unlock new areas and skills. Pretty soon you’ll be wall-jumping and bouncing your way towards boss battles, while backtracking through areas you previously couldn’t unlock as well. This is where the metroidvania elements of the game come in – helped by the (magical) items you find along the way. The main quest is long – clocking in at about 20 hours without even going for all the secret quests and items that are available.
What we haven’t touched on yet is the most original element of Chronicles of Teddy – Musicom. That name doesn’t mean anything to anyone before playing the game, but it’s a system whereby you can communicate with other characters in the game by stringing together symbols and tones in order to form shorts sentences or commands. It’s a creative use of communication in videogames, and one that we only remember seeing once before – Musicom reminded us of the system that was used in 1998’s Captain Blood, in which you used a similar mechanic to communicate with alien life forms. It’s not just communication though, since the right choice of response can also move the story forward to help you solve a puzzle.
The rest of the game is fairly familiar to gamers who have played Metroidvania titles before – and there have been quite a few in recent years, especially in the indie domain. The game’s graphical style is quite unique within in the genre, and of course so is the Musicom system. The rest of Chronicles of Teddy is relatively familiar ground for genre aficionados – you’ll be backtracking quite a bit, and part of that has to do with the fact that new abilities will allow you to reach new areas and special rewards in areas you previously visited.
All in all, Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony Of Exidus is an enjoyable title with a lot of familiar elements in its core gameplay. The game’s look and feel and character interaction are breaths of fresh air, but not enough to propel this game to a “must have” status. Having said this, if this is a genre you enjoy then you can’t go wrong with Aksys’ latest – and there’s plenty of value for money here due to a lengthy campaign. For a game we didn’t know too much about until just before it came out, this sure turned into a pleasant surprise.