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Sephonie - Review - Xbox


Sephonie is a story-driven 3D platformer developed by Analgesic Productions (the creators of Anodyne 2) and published by Ratalaika Games. The game was released for Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S on the 21st July 2023.


After playing Anodyne 1 & 2 (You can find my review of the 2nd game on our Youtube channel) I was really looking forward to seeing what this 2 man studio would come up with next! There new release mixes 3D platforming with the feeling of Tony Hawks Skateboarding and then throws in a match 3 style puzzle element. It's then nicely wrapped in a retro inspired skin and if that hasn't peaked your interest yet, i'm not sure what will!

The story of Sephonie centers around three scientists who are stranded on a remote island. The scientists are Amy Lim, Riyou Hayashi, and Ing-wen Lin. They are all of Taiwanese descent, but they come from different backgrounds. Amy is Taiwanese-American and grew up in the United States. Riyou is Japanese-Taiwanese and grew up in Japan. Ing-wen is Taiwanese and grew up in Taiwan.


The three scientists are on a joint mission to use their state-of-the-art ONYX implants to research the creatures of the uninhabited Sephonie Island. However, their ship is shipwrecked by a storm, and they are stranded on the island. The story is the highlight of the game, its well written, interesting and slowly unfolds as you play. The puzzles and exploration are all tied to the story, and they help to reveal more about the island and its inhabitants.

Graphically Sephonie is right up my alley. It clearly takes keys from classic PS1 era games, very much like Anodyne 2. It's chunky graphics hit that nostalgia factor and the game runs very smoothly. The semi open world island you explore looks great with its variety of landscapes on offer.


The soundtrack in Sephonie is also great. It is composed by melos han-tani, who is also known for his work on Anodyne 2. The soundtrack is atmospheric and emotional, and it helps to set the mood of the game. I highly recommend listening to the tracks because it's extremely hard to describe.

The player starts on the island surface, then enters red, sandstone caverns, before making their way to a jade-coloured cavern of towering trees. In between exploration, meet wondrous creatures who grant you new platforming abilities, and experience “Mindshares", short, visual novel-esque segments, where you get to hear about the lives of the three protagonists.

During a “Mindshare,” the characters are actually learning about each other's experiences and secrets! As they grow closer, the levels start to surreally become places from their lives, such as a Tokyo cityscape, Japanese shopping malls, and American Midwest suburbs!


You're probably wondering where the Tony Hawks connection I mentioned early comes into play, well that's in the platforming feel. You navigate the island in a parkour/gymnastic like manner, with wall runs, grapples, glides and dashes. It's all very momentum orientated and floaty as if you're on a skateboard. It's not the easiest thing to get used to, but you master it you will be blasting around the areas with ease. There are also puzzle sections in the game. These creature link sections see you rotating Tetris like blocks of three different colours to fit in set grids (each one unique to each creature_. The more you manage to fit/match, the better score you will get. These puzzles are a nice change of pace, but are very easy and will never really give you too much of a challenge.


Pros:

  • Great story with well-developed characters

  • Mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and exploration

  • Well-designed puzzles

  • Rewarding exploration

  • Great music

Cons:

  • Some platforming sections can be challenging

  • Puzzles can be a bit obtuse at times

  • Story can be slow-paced at times

  • Some technical issues (e.g., occasional framerate drops)

Overall Sephonie is another great game from Analgesic, unfortunately it's one of those games that will probably only connect to a certain type of person. That's not a slight at the game in the slightest, I am one of those people and I loved the time I spent with it. It's not the longest of games, only taking 6-10 hours depending how much of a completionist you are. It's narrative will be what pulls you in, but the old school clunky control scheme may be a turn off for some. TOTAL SCORE: 8/10

Sephonie was released onto the Xbox store on the 21st July 2023. The game is playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles and is optimised for Xbox Series X/S. The game is priced at £19.99 and can be purchased HERE. A copy of the game was provided for this review. A big thanks for that.

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