A mixed bag of intriguing ideas and story elements paired with over-complicated but pretty easy puzzles and awful 3D platforming
There are absolutely times with the games I play that I actively wonder if they’re a good way to convey stories and ideas. Sure, there are absolutely games where it all comes together, and the marriage of brilliant storytelling and exceptional play make for a memorable experience. Unfortunately, more often than not most games are only great at one and not so great at the other. Many pure games wisely forego deeper stories to stick to making the play experience the best it can be, and while I’m usually not a fan of what amount to mildly interactive novels there are times when they may be a better option when you’re unable to execute the gameplay to meet the standard of the story you’re trying to tell. Unfortunately Sephonie falls firmly into this trap for me, with interesting characters and story elements that quickly jump out to grab you, but they’re ultimately hidden behind middling to outright poor gameplay. Worse, they even try to tackle two different styles of play and neither is terribly good. The “puzzles” you solve to essentially “capture” different creatures you’ll encounter are bizarre. Their instructions show potential for depth but are honestly quite confusing, and when you stumble onto success even though you aren’t 100% sure what you’re doing that isn’t a great sign. Moving around in the environment and jumping around is unfortunately worse, with a camera that can be quite uncooperative when you’re simply trying to run and jump in a straight line, as well as parkour-ish moves that are clumsy at best. What results is an exercise in suffering through gameplay to keep the story going, and that’s not a formula for guaranteed satisfaction or success.
Justin Nation, Score: