It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most of us, if not all, once had something to cuddle on when we were kids (since my family was poor, I cuddled up to a slab of mouldy bread every night). The team at Storybird thought they’d make not one, but two games all about a small child and their favourite toy in a mystical realm. It started off as a point-and-click title in 2013, and the sequel was developed into a Metroidvania – quite the shift, eh? In any case, Finding Teddy II: Definitive Edition is but another Switch port that ultimately fails to stand apart from the others of its genre in any meaningful way. Hey, at least it’s a pretty good game through and through.
You don’t have to worry about the lore for the first game if you never had a chance to give it a crack, as there’s a very, very long wall of slowly-scrolling text that’ll fill you in on the details before you start the game. Because we’re a cracking bunch of lads here at VG Almanac, here’s the summary: the land of Exidus is ruled by King Tarant, a cruel ruler who abducted a young girl’s toy from the realm of humans because he had no friends. The owner, a young girl, travelled to this world, befriended the king, and got it back. While Exidus is a better place ever since the monarch softened up, a nasty magician has taken over, locking the portal between their realm and the world of man. The lass is stuck inside the kingdom, and must acquire four mystical eggs to open the portals again.
And so, you set off on your quest, travelling through forests, dungeons, graveyards, and other beautiful-looking locations. It’s easy to appreciate the fantastic visuals of this title, which are strikingly radiant and vivid. Animations are smooth and slick, and the scintillating use of coloured lighting makes each environment look all the more eye-catching. Its music is a very relaxing and chilled listen, which makes exploration feel all the more immersive. Reasonably quick loading times (excluding the time-wasting fast travel animations) and a stable framerate are all to be expected here, too.
While the combat is pretty simple, being solely limited to swinging a sword, the protagonist is surprisingly nimble. Bouncing atop of enemies and performing upward and sideward slashes partially makes up for the limited moveset. She’s easy to control and handle during fights and platforming segments, too. In any case, you won’t have to worry about fighting too many tough foes, as they’ll often go down with minimal fuss. The tougher enemies tend to use shields, so attacking their weak spots still provides a semblance of a challenge, though this trying to get them to expose their weak spot is a time-sucker. On the flip-side, while the boss battles rely on predictable attack patterns, it certainly makes them no less thrilling.
The main feature that sets the title apart from others in its genre is the Musicom, a special instrument that acts as a translator. Special runes can be placed in the device; pressing them in a certain order will allow you to say key words and phrases in the native language of Exidus. At its core, it’s a sequential code-combination gimmick. At least you can keep track of the new words you’ve learned, and their respective input codes, inside your Lexicom.
Getting lost is all too common in this one. Annoyingly, there’s no journal or diary to keep note of where you need to go or who you need to speak to. After the first boss, hints will be available at the library – i.e. the title’s hub world – which will still require plenty of backtracking to get there, though these are still fairly vague at times. Normally, you’ll just have to pick up on clues that random NPCs might spout, like speaking to a guardian and speaking to it in their native language via the Musicom.
Navigation is seldom a strong point with most Metroidvanias. In fact, confusing level layouts and a lack of directions might as well be a trope within its genre. Finding Teddy II is not exempt to this, unfortunately. It’s not to say the game world is too difficult to navigate, as you’ll be given a map and a handful of fast travel points (though it could’ve done with a few more, just to make backtracking a bit less tedious). Again, it’s just that the objectives tend to be unspecified and unclear.
Finding Teddy II won’t make you fall in love with the Metroidvania genre if you feel like the market’s a bit oversaturated with ‘em. Avid fans will likely appreciate the visuals and soundtrack, as well as exploring the gorgeous-looking environments. A lack of sense of direction and some tirecome combat are its biggest drawbacks, and its signature gimmick isn’t much of a game-changer in any meaningful way. It’s more of a tatty plush than a teddy.
Review code supplied by PixelHeart.