I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first got a look at Eryi’s Action. It looked like a cute platformer that I’d have some time to blow through and get some enjoyment out of in the process. Well it is cute. Very cute actually in the best ways possible. In this regards it’s like a more charming version of Super Mario Bros. 2 or 3 with a far simpler goal of trying to retrieve something that was stolen from you. And that’s when the rug gets pulled out from under you and you realize the cute suckered you into a trap, a deliciously fun trap where the goal isn’t to get through without dying, but is to get through a level while navigating the traps and puzzles you’d be used to in other platformers laid out for you in a way that makes you rethink how you’re approaching the entire game. And on top of all of this, it never seems to get frustrating, and instead you find yourself going in to keep playing and enjoying trying to navigate a level without getting killed every time on the same trap just because you haven’t quite figured out the way around yet. Eryi’s Action is challenging to be sure, not as long as most platformers, but it presents in such a way that it’s quickly become one of my favorite platformers and easily the best one I’ve played this year and maybe even one of my favorites of all time. Let’s take a look.
The game itself has a very simple premise through its twelve levels. Eryi is a fairy and one day she went to go eat the melon she’d been saving but found that it had been stolen. So she decides to leave her house to go looking for the delicious melon and get it back. Who took it? The main villain of the game is named Farta. This is no end of the world saving quest or anything, just a jaunt that goes horribly wrong to retrieve a wrongfully stolen melon. You’re not going to get a whole lot of story-telling out of this. In fact I’ve pretty much just covered the whole game for you. Maybe I should have mentioned spoilers? Nah not when you can get it in the write up on Steam anyway. The magic of this game really relies on its gamplay really, not the strength of its story.
Labelled as more a trapformer than a platformer, all the platforming mechanics are still here, but there are some particularly nasty traps and puzzles to solve to get around the levels without ending up dead. Some of these traps are quite obvious and you can see them coming out of a pipe or crawling along the ground or spewing toxic sludge, or so on. This is the typical platformer fare where you have to jump, grab and toss, crush, or otherwise avoid obstacles like crawling enemies or enemies that throw things at you. There are pitfalls and the ground will sometimes not quite be up to holding you up requiring a quick jump away. This is the part of the game that plays like most of the platformers before it. What got me are the cruel and inhuman traps that they spring on you that should make the game infuriating but instead made it challenging and stand out from the rest of the crowd.
There are monsters that will pop out of the ground without any kind of warning, spiked balls that can drop from the sky as you’re running along, pieces of the environment that should have been secured just a little bit better, random jumpy mushrooms that won’t get you up where you want to go with an added boost but will instead catapult you off the screen. The whole game is basically out to get you. You can’t even just run up and jump on the ending flag pole as most of the time there is some kind of thing to defeat you that you’ll have to out think to get through the ending of the level. It’s deliciously painful and refreshing to have to put this much effort into just making it through a level and gives you an even bigger sense of accomplishment for having gotten through that hot mess regardless of how many times you died to do it.
Visually the game has what I would call a very cute and charming style. Even the monsters that are coming after you have this layer of fluff to them beyond the dangerous bits that just kind of suck you in. My first instinct was to look at it like a higher res female led version of Super Mario Bros. 2 or 3, but it’s a bit more than that. There’s a definite higher quality to these and would, I’d go so far to say, look amazing on a console or handheld even with as simple as some of the backgrounds and sprites can be. The only downside to the game visually, I found, was that it’s stuck at the resolution it installs at and cannot be played widescreen, defaulting to a 4:3 format that has long since fallen by the wayside with HDTVs and widescreen laptops being the norm. I also think, however, this is what gives it that extra bit of nostalgia to it that I love. While I would have liked a higher res or widescreen format they’re definitely not necessary. The audio does a decent enough job. The music is kind of fun but not really all that memorable and the sound effects do their job. You’ll spend more time concentrating on what’s going on the screen than you will listening to the sounds the game’s throwing your way either way.
The game has an auto-save feature and you have several points where you get a checkpoint so you don’t have to redo the whole level when you die. It also keeps track of how many lives you’ve lost and there’s Steam achievements as well. It’ll take many runs through this game before you could finish it and still be in the positive for lives when you finish if that’s even possible. I won’t be able to do it, but I’ll have fun trying. There is a hidden EX mode that only gives you 30 lives to play the game through that requires you to unlock by finding certain items. While I really like this game, you’d have to be really good at this to even attempt it but it’s definitely something to keep you coming back to it.
This game is hard. And if you’re good at not dying a lot it’s going to be shorter than most. But to go along with that the game is very inexpensive. I’m not going to call this cheap because it never feels cheap. Difficult? Oh yes. Fun? Definitely. You more than get your money’s worth out of this game but go into it expecting it to be the platforming version of Demon Souls. You are going to die and more than likely it’ll be before you even get out of your house. That being said there really is no learning curve to this. It’s out to punish you from the start. Yes you get some useful tips as you play along as to what you’re capable of doing but the idea of it getting harder goes out the window when you can die leaving the opening scene of the game and probably will.
If you’ve played a platformer before you’re going to see a lot of familiar things in this game. They don’t reinvent the wheel for this game but rather turn it on its side and force you to work through the game at a little less than breakneck pace so you don’t land on every trap and you’ll end up having to work through a few puzzles to get through the game here and there but for the most part they’ve just tweaked what’s worked before and put a fresh spin on it. I meant it when I said that when I first started playing I was reminded very much of Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3. While this game is a lot less forgiving than those and more on thinking your way through a level with caution than the full on sprint of Mario, there’s too many similarities to really call this original other than the artwork and premise along with it letting you go way passed the initial two lives you’re given.
It was extremely easy to blow through a two or three hour period playing this game. The strategically placed checkpoints never make it feel like you’ve lost far too much ground to quit and most of the challenges are set up so that you know there’s got to be a good way to get around without dying once again. Now I realize that getting wiped out every time isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and this is a bit different than other platformers in the traps regard but usually when I get frustrated the game gets turned off and with this game that wasn’t the case. In fact it was the exact opposite. I wasn’t going to let it beat me. Whatever fine line there exists between being completely frustrating and absurdly fun this straddles it well and keeps you going instead of throwing your controller and PC out the window.
At just under $5, cheaper than a drive-thru meal at most places anymore, you get a really well put together game with a high nostalgia factor that manages to do its own thing and look cute as hell while it’s punishing you severely for not paying attention or playing carelessly. It’s a lot of fun and a great time and I think has a lot going for it in that regard. I didn’t really have too many issues with it other than trying to figure out on my own what my 360 controller buttons were set up to do as the game itself doesn’t recognize it as a 360 controller but just a controller. This is far from a big deal and a few taps in the options menu and it was all figured out. Keyboard controls worked just as well as the controller so don’t let the partial controller tag on the Steam store scare you if you like controllers over keyboards.
Short Attention Span Summary
Eryi’s Action is a cute, charming and totally disarming platformer designed to kill the player over and over again with a variety of traps and puzzles that would normally be frustrating and rage inducing but instead have you trying relentlessly to get passed the obstacles they’ve thrown at you. Normally after wiping over and over I turn a game off and find something else to do but this game saw me die 168 times before I ever finished the second level and I loved every minute of it. If you can combine a totally brutal ‘trapformer’ like this and not only make it fun and a blast to keep playing, you’ve got something and this game had it for me in spades. It’s a decent price given how short it is and while I would have loved something full screen, the very old school standard ratio and screen size had a huge nostalgia factor for me harkening back to the days of Super Mario Bros. and its sequels back on the NES and SNES only much prettier. If you like your platformers challenging and are looking for a breath of fresh but brutal air on the genre, then you should definitely give this game a shot.