Developer: Xtal Sword
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC (Desura, GamersGate, Web)
ESRB: N/A (E suggested)
Release Date: 9/14/12
In this day and age, we“re not really being presented with tons of difficult video games. Yes, some come up from time to time or offer up an incredible difficulty setting, but most don“t force players to work at levels over and over again in order to proceed. If you“re a gamer who laments the death of true difficulty in your media then take a look at Eryi“s Action. It isn“t a typical tough game that simply requires great reflexes and carefully planned moves. Instead, it is outright unfair, but still a blast to play.
The game starts off with an incredibly simplistic story in an attempt to lull you into believing the game is easy and cute. Basically, lead character Eyri is about to eat a melon when she finds out it“s missing. Apparently the evil fiend Farta (yes, that“s the name) has stolen it. Of course, your goal is to lead Eryi back to her melon! Now how could anything difficult arise from such a sweet beginning?
You“d be surprised. At the start of the game you are plopped into Eryi“s room. All you have to do is get out of the house to begin your journey. Upon attempting to exit the room, a giant metal pan will fall onto her head and it will be game over. Eryi“s Action gives no real lead-in to the game“s difficulty. The real meat of the title is not that it“s a sidescrolling platformer, but that it“s a platformer filled to the brim with traps. If you were expecting anything else with the corny story then the very first trap should wake you up.
Once the game actually begins, the real cruelty starts. Although some traps include obvious spikes or water hazards, many are ones you“ll have to spring to realize are there. For example, early on there is a trap which activates when trying to use a ladder. The previous ladder worked fine, but the next throws some spikes down to crush you. Other traps include blocks that disappear as soon as you step on them, enemies popping out of bushes, and a whole host of other stuff. Traps can come in at any point, and one right after another. You will even find them in unexpected places like the world map.
Now one might assume that there“s only so many traps that could be thought up. Through playing the game, I can report that there“s always something new around the bend. It“s also impossible to know just what is going to happen next. You may try to walk cautiously past a wall of spikes, but it will hardly protect you. The game often even fakes players out by making things look dangerous. Only when you get past the â€œscaryâ€ part and let down your guard will the real trap set off. The only real way to get through the game is with loads of persistence as well as remembering what trap is where.
Levels themselves are fairly short and even include autosave flags. This is the one kindness that Eryi“s Action affords players. Everything else is up to you mastering the sections in order to get through them. What is so incredible is how perfectly traps are placed. Xtral Sword must have put a lot of time into testing to see just how players would move through the worlds. For example, one funny trap early on is a platform with a diamond just beyond it. Players jump to the platform in an attempt to get the shiny item, but a wall suddenly appears before they can get it. The next thought is obviously to go back off the platform from the other side. Just as that happens another, smaller wall pops up to block escape and spikes fall from the sky. You“re smushed. The trap design is absolutely ingenious and worth experiencing even if platformers aren“t your thing.
That“s not to say that every bit of cruelty the game unleashes is a joy to experience. I felt that the first level was a bit too unfair, although once you pass it you know what to expect in the future. This is due to the fact that Eyri“s Action doesn“t completely explain what freedoms you have. There was an item earlier in the level that could be used at the end, but this didn“t even cross my mind for the longest time. Perhaps if it had better tutorial boxes (or at least hinted more blatantly) it would be easier to accept.
For the most part though, the fun comes from accidentally tripping traps and attempting to best them. The "game over" jingle is rather annoying with its mocking tone, but beyond that, dying is part of the enjoyment. The game teaches you right at the beginning that you“re going to die but not to take it seriously. Instead, enjoy the hilarious traps and work on overcoming them. Beating a level feels good, especially after some of the more diabolical trap setups.
Unfortunately, the game is not massively long. Each level is fairly brief (once you“ve spent handfuls of minutes or hours to beat each) and there are not tons of them. Some players may be able to more quickly assess and traverse trap-filled landscapes while others will have a much harder time with it. Either way, once the game is over it doesn“t feel like something you really need to sink more time into. At the same time, it“s only five dollars though which makes it a fairly great experience for the low cost.
If there“s anything Eryi“s Adventure is lacking, it is a bit more polish. The characters look fine but the world isn“t the most creative-looking out there. The music is pleasant, but not something you want to hear over and over again. Then there“s that damned "game over" sound, which sounds completely ridiculous. None of these pull away from the experience though, and you can always turn off sound effects if you really need to. Fun comes from playing the game, and it would be fun regardless of presentation. There could certainly be more added to the game as well but that goes back to the point of it“s price. How much do you really require a $5 game to have?
The experience players have with Eryi“s Action is hugely entertaining. Although it won“t last for months and months, it is something worth experiencing at least once. To try playing a game that is purposefully out to get you is creative, and strangely enjoyable. Those who love platformers deserve looking it over, but so too do gamers who want to play something difficult. There is no lack of â€œhard platfomers,â€ but most allow for player skill to trump them, instead of forcing players to conform to a smartly hostile world. Eryi“s Action is the kind of game that people may like even if it“s not typically the type of game they would play.
+ Incredibly smart trap placement
+ Never know what“s going to happen next
+ A joy to beat levels and die dozens of times trying
- Short once you master it
- Little replay value
- Lackluster audio design
Overall Score: 7.5 (Out of 10)
Eryi's Action is the perfect title for gamers with a masochistic streak.