Greak: Memories of Azur (PS5) Review

Greak: Memories of Azur is a brand-new side-scroller with gorgeous visuals, but does it have the gameplay to back it up?
Greak Memories of Azur Header

Developed by Navegante Entertainment and published by Team17, Greak: Memories of Azur is a brand-new single-player side-scrolling adventure in the land of Azur. It features beautiful hand-drawn 2D visuals, a compelling story and thoroughly enjoyable gameplay. It manages to do quite a bit right, making for quite a memorable experience.

Greak: Memories of Azur follows three siblings as they do their best to escape Azur after the land is invaded by the Urlags. The story starts off following the main character, Greak, who is the youngest brother of the three. He sets off to find his older sister, Adara and his oldest brother, Raydel. Right at the start of the game, Greak awakens in a camp, after being rescued by a group of scouts. This hub area is essentially the base of operations for the surviving Courines, the magical race that inhabits Azur. Their goal is to build an airship, piece by piece, and then ultimately escape the invading Urlags. During his search for his siblings, Greak assists with the construction of the airship by completing tasks for members of the camp.

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Greak: Memories of Azur’s narrative is one that isn’t necessarily complex, but it is one that will grab your attention from the start as Greak begins the search for his family. Aside from the little tidbits given to you during the story and when talking to NPCs, a lot of Azur’s lore can be found in various books littered throughout the game. It does break up the flow a little bit, but it’s interesting to learn more about the land and its inhabitants. It also doesn’t hurt that the game features some fantastic cinematics that aids the storytelling at key moments. 

The land of Azur is interconnected, so it’s possible to enter a new area via one that you’ve already explored, instead of having to return to the hub area. The structure of the quests also follow a similar pattern in some cases, where one quest might give hints about another or completing one may progress another. It makes for a great flow of quests and rarely requires you to backtrack, but even then, there’s a handy fast travel system in place.

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The gameplay in Greak: Memories of Azur is great and fairly easy to get into once you’ve started. Greak is able to attack enemies with his sword and can perform a dodge-roll to avoid incoming damage. He also has a double jump, which comes in pretty handy with the platforming throughout the game, of which there is quite a fair amount. However, this is just the start and only one of the characters you’ll be able to control. As mentioned before, Greak has two siblings and they can be found at specific points in the story; this is where it becomes interesting. Once you’ve found a sibling, they join your adventure and you must control them, either by alternating between them and Greak or controlling them all at once. 

Switching between the three is done by simply pressing the corresponding button on the D-pad. Controlling them simultaneously sounds a lot trickier than what it actually is. This is done by holding down the L2 button (this can also be changed to a toggle), which will enable each character in range to mimic the actions of the currently controlled one. It’s mostly for platforming and not for combat though, since each character will automatically start attacking once an enemy is in range. It’s also possible to call the siblings to your position if they’re in range by holding the R2 button. Having the option of controlling them separately and simultaneously is quite convenient since it’s incredibly helpful for solving the various puzzles the game will throw at you.

Each playable sibling also handles differently. Greak is the youngest but he’s also the fastest and can crawl into small spaces. Adara uses arcane magic, which needs to be recharged once her meter depletes, but she can also levitate and hold her breath the longest underwater. Raydel is the eldest; he wields a sword and cannot dodge, but has a shield, which can be used for defence, as well as puzzles. Knowing when to use which character is important as one may be preferable for a puzzle, such as Raydel with his hookshot, or when dealing with a particular enemy, who might be able to best them while taking the least amount of damage. It’s an interesting mechanic and one that Navegante have done well.

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Greak: Memories of Azur has a decent range of puzzle types that will need to be solved. From pressure plates to weights and reflecting rays of light, there’s a fair amount to see and they tend to increase in difficulty as you progress through the game. Thankfully, while a few of them may have you scratching your head at first, they never feel unsolvable. It’s also great how the game introduces new puzzles that require the use of a sibling’s unique skill once they join your party, however, it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t necessarily gate your progress.

When it comes to combat, Greak: Memories of Azur is quite satisfying but also pretty challenging. The game starts you off with fighting enemies called The Plague, which appear to be a hybrid of mud and undead, but you’ll face off against increasingly challenging enemies as you visit different locations around Azur. The Urlags themselves pose the biggest threat as they are both skilled in battle and can take more of a beating than other enemies you’ll encounter. There’s also a number of different Urlag enemy types and learning their respective attack patterns is incredibly important if you want to survive. They hit hard and fast and can reduce your HP to zero if their attacks aren’t dodged. Considering all the enemies and environmental hazards you’ll face throughout your journey, Greak: Memories of Azur can sometimes feel a little unforgiving at times, especially when dying will send you back to the last save point. There are no checkpoints in the game, only save points in the form of runestones that can be found in each area. The lack of checkpoints might be off-putting for some players, however, it does raise the stakes a little, causing you to consider your actions carefully when entering a new area.

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Visually, Greak: Memories of Azur looks gorgeous. It boasts hand-drawn visuals with an art style that is reminiscent of another 2D side-scroller adventure, Hollow Knight. The use of colour, both when it comes to the character models and the environments is also something to behold. The game runs incredibly smoothly with no stuttering whatsoever. The audio is also rather fantastic. There’s no spoken dialogue in the game but Greak, Adara and Raydel do grunt when performing attacks or taking damage. The sound effects of their weapons and attacks also sound great. Where it really shines, however, is with its orchestral soundtrack. This enhances the experience really well. There’s often a subtle atmospheric track playing while you’re exploring but becomes incredibly cinematic at key moments or during boss fights.

Greak: Memories of Azur is a fantastic game. It features a captivating narrative while also delivering on some solid gameplay. The combat is quite satisfying, although the lack of checkpoints might be off-putting for some. Although, I feel like this also adds to the experience, raising the stakes and giving a sense of what the Courines have to endure. It’s also such a beautiful game and the orchestral soundtrack complements the visuals well. Greak: Memories of Azur is a fantastic adventure and one that is worthy of your time.

A review code for Greak: Memories of Azur was provided to Gameblur by the publisher

9/10
Total Score
  • Story
    8/10 Very Good
  • Gameplay
    8/10 Very Good
  • Visuals
    9/10 Amazing
  • Audio
    9/10 Amazing

The Good

  • Compelling story
  • Satisfying combat
  • Fantastic visuals and soundtrack
  • Controlling the siblings isn’t too complicated

The Bad

  • Lack of checkpoints might be off-putting for some
Total
8
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