I truly love Metroid-like games, but I do often lament the simplicity of their mechanics. Many of them just feel so light on actual player input in terms of combat, that they can get fairly stale. Tevi also seems to dislike this, as the game’s combat is unique and fairly involved, on top of having a large world filled with upgrades to find via ability gates. There may be too much dialogue for my taste and I’m not all that crazy about the visual style, but this is another winning Metroid-like from the devs behind Rabi-Ribi.
There’s more story focus in Tevi than I think I’ve ever seen in a game like this. The title character is a young woman accompanied by an angel and demon as they scour the world for MacGuffins called Astral Gears. Story sequences feature fully voiced conversations that go on for minutes on end as the characters expound on the game’s history and lore. It’s all fairly detailed, although all the characters are mostly typical anime archetypes, which caused me to speed through conversations fairly frequently. Your mileage may vary depending on how tolerant you are of these archetypes, but even I found myself sitting and listening to all of a scene when the mood took me.
The game is broken up into chapters that each add clearly delineated exclamation points to the game’s maps, so it’s always clear where you’re meant to go to progress the story. That being said, you can still explore to your heart’s content, as there are plenty of areas you can venture to early if you so choose. The game world is fairly interconnected too, as you’ll find new ways to old biomes that feature chunks you probably haven’t seen yet. Visually, the game is all pixel art, but in a super-deformed style similar to Cave Story, hurting my immersion a bit.
Brave new world
Tevi‘s biomes are all fairly different and some have unique hazards and level design characteristics. You’ll initially move slowly in the water area, take burn damage in a fiery area, or have to avoid bone spikes and trick blocks in an area leading to the underworld. The level design is solid, even if much of it isn’t particularly memorable. There are also constant little nooks that look as if they contain something of note, only for them to be just for show. However, this is understandable as the game world is very large, considering. This is one of the larger, more-detailed Metroid-likes compared to what I’ve seen recently.
There’s a decent variety of enemies, but you’ll still come across your fair share of palette swaps, including enemies that don’t seem like they should be in multiple areas. One enemy is a small miner that attacks with a pickaxe that not only shows up in the mines, but in the aforementioned underwater section. The enemies have varied attack patterns, however, that are great at keeping you on your toes. Many of them have bullet hell-esque attacks (which will come as no surprise to Rabi-Ribi players) that need to be recognised or you find yourself taking serious damage.
As for combat, Tevi herself has a dagger that she slashes at foes with. But the kicker is how these attacks affect foes. While hitting enemies, they often have yellow or red outlines. An enemy with a yellow outline can be manipulated, either by powerfully knocking them away (into any walls or surfaces) or with Tevi’s upper slash to launch them. She has a totally different set of combos in the air versus on the ground to boot. Enemies with red outlines are resistant to her strikes and mean an enemy is preparing an attack that should be dodged.
Let’s get technical
This is really the tip of the iceberg in regard to Tevi‘s combat too. Tevi has an alternate ground combo, plus her moveset can be modified with sigils that you can equip. There are tons of these and they can impact most aspects of your playstyle, from increasing damage for certain moves or giving special buffs or benefits. A lot of thought and care was put in here and it truly elevates the experience. Tevi also has two orbitars that her angel and demon companions occupy. These function as your ranged attack and you can not only swap between the two of them, but have them switch between shot types. These too can be affected by sigils.
Your options consistently increase as the game moves along, plus you’ve also got Metroid-esque bombs and, yes, standard new abilities to look forward to. There’s a double jump upgrade, a slide upgrade, and more that will let you reach new areas and better explore other ones. Enemies and breakable cubes also contain crafting ingredients you can use to make healing items or upgrade various properties. There’s just a really satisfying amount of depth here that let me feel like I really had a lot to sink my teeth into, a rarity for games like this.
The game’s boss battles lean heavily into bullet hell, as they have multiple phases that require you to carefully navigate attacks while finding opportunities to wail on your foes and put them in break states. These boss battles are often really satisfying and unique, making them a particular highlight. When looked at overall, Tevi goes above and beyond to deliver a very impressive game. I may not care for the art style or be super engrossed in the plot or characters, but this is a very full-featured game with a lot of depth that simply reeks of effort. If you enjoy Metroid-likes, this is easily one of the best of the year, if not the best. Unless the long-winded anime characters try your patience a bit too much.
Tevi: Tevi might lean a bit too hard on anime archetypes, but it's a unique, deep experience that rewards exploration and an understanding of its many complex mechanics. – Andrew Farrell
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