Review by Iyamtebist
"Like I Wanna be the Guy... except fun"
Eryi's Action is a game that, while not the most well known, seems to have gotten some popularity from some of the more popular lets players of Youtube. The nature of the game is one that makes a blind run interesting simply due to the reactions that one may have to its content. The reactions in the case of Eryi's Action are, of course, to the game's high difficulty level. That fact alone is normally a red flag regarding games that have become commonly played by a lot of Youtube lets players. The reason for this is that some of these games tend to use their own difficulty as a gimmick and have that be the only notable thing about it. For example, the infamous Kaizo Mario World, a mod of Super Mario World with levels that are nigh unplayable without the use of tool assisted programs, is the type of game that could never hope to be released commercially simply due to the fact that it is designed intentionally to be unplayable.
Another famous example is the freeware game, I Wanna Be the Guy. This one is a much more well made game than Kaizo and can even be fun, but it prides itself on being absolutely masochistic and the main purpose for beating the game is basically bragging rights. These games generally tend to be ones that would be interesting to watch someone else play, but not enjoyable to actually play on one's own. Eryi's Action is a game that has drawn a lot of comparisons to I Wanna Be the Guy and is a game that plays up its difficulty as its main feature as well. In fact, the user manual for the game has a disclaimer stating that the developers are not responsible for any smashed keyboards. The main key difference here is that Eryi's Action has an actual price tag, albeit a small one at only $5.00, which gives this game the obligation of actual quality in addition to its difficulty.
Surprisingly though, Eryi's Action was not quite as difficult as it was made out to be, at least not when compared to the previously aforementioned games. The main thing that separates Eryi's Action from those previous games is that it is actually designed reasonably and is fun. That does not mean that it is not challenging by any means, but the difference is that it is not designed to wear the player down emotionally by repeatedly overwhelming him or her. In fact, Eryi's Action is a game that actually understands that there is a key difference between being challenging and being difficult.
Before I talk more about Eryi's Action, I feel as though I need to make a note of what the difference between being difficult and being challenging is. The short version is that being challenging is something that tests one's ability and skills while difficult is just something that is hard to do. One may think by that description that they are the same thing, and while they may overlap, it is important to know that there is a key difference. Simply being difficult is something that could be handled in a lot of different ways, but the ultimate question comes from whether or not the difficulty is from something artificial or poor design, or if it is something that is designed to fit the game. Some examples of what can be added to a game to make it difficult could be something simple like a lack of extra lives or save points, or simply making enemies take more hits to kill while you take less. These are all very lazy ways to add artificial difficulty to the game and do not make the game any more fun, yet they often do make the game harder to play. In fact, what probably helps illustrate my point the most is that the difficulty settings in I Wanna Be the Guy do not change anything about the game's design other than the number of save points. While it is technically harder to do, it does not require any more skill on the player's part to make it across a difficult segment again after you had to repeat the previous room due to a lack of save points, but it does do more to wear down the player by giving every death the feeling of a swift punch to the gut.
Eryi's Action, on the other hand, is certainly challenging enough that you cannot simply blast your way through and that you will be dying a lot. However, instead of putting in various features that artificially increase the game's difficulty, it relies on both design quirks and specific features made to prevent the player from being overly frustrated. First of all, in Eryi's Action, you have unlimited lives. At first it starts out displaying that the player has three lives in a very similar fashion to Super Mario Bros, but when you go below zero lives the numbers instead start dipping further and further into the negatives. This really serves no purpose other than to remind the player that it is not an easy game, which it does due to how high your death count, will be at the end of the game (mine was over 1200 after the game's 11 stages).
Another convenience the game offers is that check points are placed at reasonable locations and allow you to get back to where you were quickly. As a result, this game can get away with the occasional cheap kill, which this game has a lot of, and it will not have an adverse effect on your sanity. The only problem that the check points provide is that you start from the beginning of the level after you clear it, meaning that if you need to go back and try to get something, you need to redo the entire stage again. However, this is not really too much of a problem seeing as how the only reason to go back to a level is if you missed one of the 7 jewels and need to go back and get it, which should not be too much of a problem seeing as how it is possible to get every jewel the first time you play through a level.
However, what makes the design of Eryi's Action a game that is challenging yet not frustrating is that the game's obstacles are more so puzzles that you need to figure out how to get past as opposed to simply dodging with quick, precise, timing. Granted there are still some intense platforming moments but they are at least fairly designed. One of the main puzzle elements of Eryi's Action is its traps. The game's traps are obstacles that the player will never see coming and will always kill the player the first time. Unlike most games where this is generally a sign of poor design, there are certain elements that make these traps an enjoyable part of the game. First of all, the traps are so ridiculous and over the top that you will more likely find yourself laughing than getting frustrated. These can range from platforms randomly moving out of range, blocks that have spikes jut out as soon as you touch it, random objects falling when you walk within range. Regardless of the game's over the top nature, this type of design would still be unforgivable if it were not for its convenient checkpoint placement.
What makes these traps work well is that that they are not just used as a cheap gimmick to get one death out of the player. Instead, these traps often are part of puzzles you need to figure your way around using what the level gives you. For example, in some levels you can end up being killed after you reach the goal post due to an obstacle being placed in a spot where Eryi will always crash into it as a result of her pre-set victory animation. The natural solution to this may be to jump over the goal post and get rid of any obstacles, or use an item that you find in the level to keep yourself from walking into a pit. At the same time, however, there are still many reaction based obstacles that are mixed in with these puzzles. As a result, you get a game that is very experimental in nature and is one where you need to constantly approach obstacles in a different way to figure out the solution. While it is true that some of the traps due technically come out of nowhere and will give you an unfair death the first time, there is no excuse for you to not learn from your mistake the second time and falling for it again will be entirely your fault.
Now on the subject of the more isolated, individual parts of Eryi's Action, there is a lot to appreciate as well. Despite the story being very thin and rarely seen, you do have what is a rather unique and tongue-in cheek style. This style naturally carries over to the gameplay as well seeing as how there are a lot of times where the gameplay style may change abruptly for a different stage that can range from that of a racing game, a 2D shooter, or even a turn based RPG. Ultimately it feels as though Eryi's action is meant to be an affectionate parody or tribute to various different styles of games.
In terms of the production values, Eryi's Action has a simplistic yet effective approach. Levels are designed where you go from left to right to get to the end of the stage, and a lot of obstacles or environments look very similar to Super Mario Bros. The art style is bright and colorful and there are a lot of lively animations that the game has. Ironically, most of the animations that tend to bring life into the game come from the way Eryi dies. Instead of simply having one death animation like most platformers, you have a variety of different animations depending on what she is killed by. Hitting spikes will end up stripping off her clothes (it does not show anything in case you were getting any ideas), she sets on fire if touched by a hot object, she gets electrocuted if she touches something electrical, she could also be sent blasting off into the sky ala Team Rocket if a certain specific trigger is met.
To add to this, the animation of the game's background looks very fluid and makes use of NES like objects have animations that could not have been done on the NES done with sound effects that would be much more effective than the NES could do. The one complaint I have with the presentation is the music. While the songs in the game are pretty good on their own, there are two problems with them. The first is that there are only about 5 songs in the game and they are reused way too often. The second is that you can never hear the full songs because the music resets whenever you die, and because you will be dying a lot, that means you will be hearing the first couple second of it most the time
Eryi's Action is a very well designed and enjoyable platformer that provides just the right amount of challenge to engage the player without being overly frustrating them. Every level has its own unique feel and look, and despite the frequent amount of deaths, I never once stopped having fun with Eryi's Action nor did I feel it was unfair. The game just so happens to also have a nice charm to it that gives itself more of an appeal. Ultimately it is nice to see a game that promises challenge and gives it without using obnoxious design tactics to make the game feel harder than it actually is. The only real issue with the game is that it is a bit short lived, but at the price of $5.00, you will definitely get your money's worth.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/09/14, Updated 04/15/14
Game Release: Eryi's Action (US, 11/19/13)
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