When was the last time you played a game and felt compelled to discover everything on your own? To truly complete a game without any outside help at all? No, I don’t mean just find all the collectibles or collect the best items. I mean, to do the seemingly useless acts as well, like talking to all of the local NPCs, or spend hours trying to solve a puzzle that only leads to minor upgrades or money. The Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is one of those games that compelled me to do just so. Despite the game’s actually short length, I put in well over 20 hours exploring every nook and cranny I could find.
To put this in perspective, The Chronicles of Teddy is built in the vein of games like Metroid and Castlevania, where each new ability you unlock opens up previously inaccessible paths. However, Chronicles of Teddy takes this a step further by introducing other elements that ultimately alter the game in such a unique way that, despite its seemingly cliched genre, help it becomes something new entirely.
You begin Chronicles of Teddy by exploring a creepy graveyard as the nameless protagonist but soon find yourself in a location known as The Library. In the Library, you will jump into the worlds of books and explore them in search for the four eggs needed to find and defeat Anguis, the evil ruler of the world. Even if the plot feels contrived, the worlds you explore do not. Each world you vist has its own life and lore for you to discover. How you discover it is through the power of music. NPCs speak in different musical notes, or runes, that you must find and learn to talk back. The different “songs” and words you learn are often what stand between you and completion of the world.
Each world follows a fairly linear fashion in that you discover the village, figure out what they need, learn what the guardian needs, and then traverse a dungeon. But, it’s all very well done. For example, some of the worlds are small and condensed, only requiring you to go so far before completing your goals, while others are sprawling landscapes that need you to memorize and learn short cuts in order to get from point A to point B.
Dungeons in particular stand out with their individual level designs. No one dungeon is the same, and often require players to really think in order to progress. One dungeon may require you to memorize a series of songs in order to open all of the doors, while another will rely on your more physical prowess to fight through the hoards of enemies that exist within the depths. There are even secret dungeons that act as a sort ofROM-hacked world that require precise platforming and combat to survive the increased difficulty.
Upgrade wise, the protagonist only gains four actual abilities, though there are still plenty of objects to find that help your journey. You can find orbs that reveal hidden platforms, similar to the big switches of Super Mario World, or fireflies that unlock secrets in the Library. Beyond that, currency plays a big role as well. Many of the chests you will find reward you with heaps of gems that can be used to purchase more health, better armor, or a better weapon. These upgrades play into the replayability as well, where after completing the game you unlock a new game plus mode that reveals even more upgrades for you to purchase and improve your character to help with the increased difficulty also provided by the mode.
Despite all this good, the game does suffer from a few, if somewhat major, flaws. For one, combat is very stiff. Your sword strikes have practically no range and require you to get right in the enemy’s face before you’ll land a hit. Coupled with the strategies needed to defeat some enemies, this can result in lots of accidental damage to you. Enemy variety itself is pretty lacking as well. While there are plenty of different enemies, they often just act as reskins or colors of each other, adding little to the already stilted combat. The music system, while incredibly unique and awesome, can cause some headaches as well. Many of the puzzles often rely on you having a trained ear that can distinguish the different notes and intervals. As someone who studied music theory, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I can see where it might prove to be very difficult for others.
The Chronicles of Teddy is an absolutely fantastic game despite these flaws. I loved every moment of the charming, musical platformer. Each facet of the game, even if its lifted from another genre, come together to create what is easily one of the most unique Indie games available for the PlayStation 4. You owe it to yourself to at least give this game a good try.
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