Sephonie is the latest release from publisher Ratalaika Games, this time working with award-winning developer; Analgesic Productions. Previously released on PC last year, the two-person developer is now bringing this charming little 3D platformer to home consoles. For this review, I played the PS5 version.
Before I begin, I would like to point out that this game did cause an error in my PS5 trophies syncing but it seems this error occurs when the trophies aren’t yet uploaded to the server so should be resolved within a few days.
Sephonie – The Story
The story revolves around three scientists – Riyou Hayashi, Amy Lim and Ing-Wen Lin as they approach a mystery-shrouded island called Sephonie. They are caught in an electro-magnetic disturbance and wash up ashore and begin to investigate their surroundings. Honestly, with that set up, this could’ve made for a neat low-budget Star Trek game. Joking aside, it’s a good way to draw the player into the story.
As an initial negative, I found the large amounts of expositional dialogue a little tiresome and found myself tapping to skip so I could get to the gameplay. It’s not a huge complaint.
Once on the island, you link to the island inhabitants via ONYX link to research them and better understand your surroundings. The ONYX link introduces a Tetris-style minigame whereby you connect various coloured blocks to icrease your points and compete the links. Even the block shapes are identical to those found in Tetris. The game is split between the platforming and these puzzle elements which does give a nice amount of variety in the gameplay.
Sephonie’s platforming takes some getting used to. The controls are a little clunky and I often found myself missing platforms due to the camera. The right stick controls the camera but it also moves as the character turns with the left stick. I ended up turning the left-stick turning down to minimum which made the experience much more enjoyable. In addition, you hold R2 to sprint which also recentres the camera which can be irritating if you’re lining up a tricky jump and the camera suddenly moves. Luckily, the checkpoints are generous so if you do take a tumble, you won’t be too far away when you respawn.
A Nod To Zelda…
Visually, there is an element of Wind-Waker with the look of the game. Unfortunately, the graphics do feel a little dated and not in the way that some games are made to look retro. That’s not to say it’s a bad looking game, just that a little refinement could’ve helped with it’s overall presentation.
Sephonie is an enjoyable title with an interesting central premise that inspires exploration. With a few tweaks here and there, this could’ve been a real standout. As it is, it’s a fun, if ultimately forgettable experience. That said, I will revisit for that precious Platinum trophy.