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  • Writer's pictureFernando Da Costa

Review - TEVI


Developer: CreSpirit, GemaYue, Ein Lee

Publisher: CreSpirit, Neverland Entertainment, CreSpirit International Limited, PM Studios

Available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC

Review console: Playstation 5


OH, IT’S ONE OF THOSE!


As a genre, Metroidvania happens to be a tiny bit older than I am, having debuted between the mid to late 80s. Since then, we’ve seen several titles toying with the formula to varying degrees of success. Few have managed to get it right but when they do, they damn well do. Shantae, with her purple hair and provocative hip motions, is one such banger. It’s also responsible for the birth of the Waifu-vania and you bet your blueberry waffle that developers have dove into this sub-category. Oh, it’s exactly what you’d think - cute, but badass, girls go on an adventure, murdering the creatures standing in their path. It’s an absolute blast, sometimes literally, and today, we’re analyzing a recent entry.


TEVI was released initially for the Nintendo Switch, scoring highly amongst critics. It’s a unique cocktail of flavors, taking Metroidvania and blending in bullet hell chaos with some RPG sensibilities. If that sounds even remotely familiar, it probably should. See, Rabi-Ribi is another that shares this DNA. Call it a spiritual prequel of sorts, to the point that we’ll stumble across plenty of references in a session. To the shock of no one, what ends up catching my attention with TEVI are the great character designs. That’s right, I’m judging this book purely based on the cover but will that bite me?



WHAT A SASSY BUNNY!


I normally begin by expunging on the plot but I’ve got this violent urge to immediately touch on the three protagonists. To put it simply; they’re bursting at the seams with personality. Sure, they’re drenched with anime tropes but thanks to the humour, I didn’t care that they were stereotypes. I adore their snarky remarks and the banter between the group. It was guaranteed to always tickle my taint and leave me chortling. It sublimely embodies that lighthearted charm most would expect from this aesthetic, pretty much to the tee, and that’s why it’s so delightful. Granted, I didn’t sit there busting a gut but a cheesy smile was plastered on my face with no signs of waning. I was immersed and a slight connection was cultivated. Although, it didn’t manage emotional investment.


Basically, TEVI has this nasty habit of leaning so heavily into levity that when it does attempt impactfulness, it isn’t the smoothest transition. The ball is occasionally fumbled because the moments of rawness are undermined seconds after taking place. TEVI just doesn’t let the sadness breathe before a tonal shift. It’s as if this game gets sudden cold feet about it. Frankly, there seems to be minor confusion on the kind of narrative that it strives to convey. On the one hand, we’ve got off-the-cuff comments blended in with silly shenanigans, yet on the other hand, there’s a flash of depth. Yes, contrasting differences like this can work with the proper execution. That’s not the reality here, however, which becomes a tiny blemish to an otherwise entertaining script.



I do specify occasionally because there are times when dark subjects are delivered beautifully. Implementation didn’t feel awkward thanks to how seeds were carefully scattered, building to the reveal. Instead of feeling like it was shoehorned in for the sake of drama, there’s a natural progression. It didn’t feel out of left field, making sense given the context. Look, when TEVI nails it, it friggin nails it. I’m really caught off-guard by how it tackles deeper issues. It isn’t to a robust scale but the mere fact that it even does so is pretty nifty. It adds another dimension to literary prowess, capturing my intrigue with how it delves into trauma. It passes a positive message of acceptance, too, showing that under the ridiculous facade, something tangible lurks.


Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the sporadic perversion. Luckily, it isn’t necessarily indulgent, as it’s strictly for comedic effect - at worst, it’s immature drivel. If I had to describe it, I suppose cringe would be an apt word. What I’m afraid of is that it may cause people to fast-forward through the dialogue. Doing that would mean the quick examples of actual character development are lost to the ether. As my session went on, there was visible growth as demeanours changed. Amid the chatter of boobs and sexual innuendo, characters are fleshed out. It helps the epic of angels and demons that TEVI tells to flourish. It isn’t perfect, mind you, and the tale can be predictable, but one or two twists do land - the mystery kept me sufficiently interested.



SLICE, SLICE, STAB!


Much of the Nintendo Switch coverage for TEVI mentioned the repetitiveness of encounters. While I can understand where those gripes stem from, I wholly disagree. Sure, I’m tapping the attack button repeatedly to pummel creatures, but I’m also having to concentrate on executing a string of strikes. This system relies on combos and as I level up, I’ll unlock fresh techniques that ravage my enemies. It isn’t as mindless as the critiques would have you think as I found it to be the opposite - it’s engaging. That bullet hell element certainly helps to heighten that. I’d be dodging projectiles, a look of intense focus on my face as my tongue sticks out, swishing left to right. I have to be calculating to avoid huge amounts of damage. It’s satisfying as hell, meaning I never felt bored.


Okay, I know I glossed over the fact that you level in TEVI and if my doing that had you swearing at the possibility of grinding, exhale. See, It’s handled uniquely - it’s intrinsically tied to exploration. As I discover new sections of a map, I gain EXP. I’m smitten by this notion because it incentivizes being curious. I’m encouraged to search every nook and cranny. I think it’s awesome, but I acknowledge how it highlights a second complaint that I hear - the maps themselves. They’re large - obnoxiously so. While I wasn’t bothered by it due to the fast-paced action, I can see why it could deter people. As a Kamikaze warrior myself, it’s my wet dream. It never felt tedious as I scoured the corridors of castles, slaughtering monsters, and the reason for that is the fun factor.



I’ll admit, TEVI did nudge me towards a form of grinding still but it’s to grab materials. Yup, I’m going to be getting my arts and crafts on. Before groans start to echo out, I found the frequency to which they dropped to be high, especially during the later chapters. It doesn’t feel like I ran about for hours, trying to obtain a specific piece in a specific place. I never felt aggravated by it. Sure, I’ve got to find the source that’ll give me what I need but that just serves to streamline the entire ordeal. Like I said, it’s a specific place, meaning I knew what needed to be eviscerated. I knew where to go and because the chances of acquiring the item are likely, I never felt the time I committed was being disrespected, thus I’d happily oblige. 


Apart from hack-and-slash combat, another key aspect of Metroidvania is backtracking. As my session continued, I gained access to abilities such as an airborne dash that aided in entering areas that were previously unreachable. As someone with a traumatic brain injury that contributes to my piss poor memory, I couldn’t recall where a particular move would be needed. Well, TEVI has a solution with a nifty quality-of-life addition. I can assign an icon to serve as a visual reminder - a waypoint. I can’t begin to tell y’all how this basic feature spared me from countless headaches. As an advocate for accessibility, I also have to applaud how not invasive it is. It won’t be in-your-face or a detriment to challenge. I dare say it motivated me to actually venture to every corner.



A SIGIL FOR YOU AND ME!


I don’t think it’s a hot take to say that customization is an enormous positive. Getting a chance to determine the strengths and weaknesses of my avatar did a lot to help me as a player to invest. Fortunately, TEVI allowed me to do just that and I spent a fair bit building her. I’m not filling the nodes of a skill tree, though. Scattered around individual sections of the map are what are called Sigils. These possess passives that transform the titular TEVI into a bonafide serial killer. As a man that favours charging into skirmishes, I honed in on melee. I worked meticulously to optimize her usage of a knife but if you’re not like moi - a psychopath - then her ranged efforts might be more your speed. Alright, bolster her orbital weaponry instead. With so many Sigils, I can experiment loads.


Perhaps I’m a weirdo for this next paragraph but stumbling on those Sigils was a rush of nostalgia. I vividly remember those old-school titles with breakable walls. The Sigils are often behind these hidden routes and I’m meant to thump along until I pass one. If that sounds awful then I have bad news as there’s a bunch in TEVI. The good news is I could pinpoint the spots they’d be since the mini-map displayed an icon to show it. There are zero excuses for missing out on these stellar perks. Hell, I would regularly discover a destructible part due to how I’d be frantically slashing my blade. My desire to want to make my girl bloodthirsty was insatiable and it’s what guided me to strive to search everywhere. I was hungry to outfit her in the cream of the crop because I was craving death.



PIXEL PERFECT!


When I began this piece, I said I was judging TEVI on the look exclusively. The pixelation and sprite work is divine. I have to give props for the detail in the background and objects, like furniture. The vibrancy of the colours did a ton of heavy lifting in terms of making it pop. It looked so beautiful on my TV, even when I played it on my Portal, and now I’m half tempted to see if there’s a difference if I’m on my OLED Switch. I reckon that the crunch to the graphics in conjunction with the deeper blacks can only be beneficial for my eyeballs. While I contemplate spending funds that I don’t have, I’d like to briefly shout out the wonderful anime CGs. As a filthy weeb, I was pretty damn chuffed by what I saw. Oh, and to answer my question - sadly, there was no kinky biting.


WHAT’S THAT SOUND!?


We’re starting off with a blasphemous statement because I think having a dub would have not only helped the humour but would have further improved TEVI in general. That isn’t to say the Japanese voices are terrible but I couldn’t help but feel the cadence lacked oomph periodically. There were lines I’d read a certain way in my head but the actual tone wasn’t close to what I had conjured up. In that same breath, there are moments when it’s nearly perfect. I can only surmise it’s due to my preference, yes, preference, to dubs because when done correctly, it’s like watching a TV show. Realistically, it’s a stupid gripe, but when compared to the music, it’s lesser. Hearing flutes go bonkers or the soft notes of a piano flowing beautifully were pleasantries to my ear holes. Look, when a track reminds you of Nier, that’s a wrap.



AND THE WAIFU VERDICT IS…


TEVI is a fascinating amalgamation of genres that seem like they should have trouble co-existing but they don’t. I think the inclusion of Bullet Hell is what pushes this game over the edge, preventing it from devolving into a mindless affair. I had to be attentive because any absentmindedness would’ve surely spelt my demise. The writing, notably the banter, had me bellowing a hearty, silent, expelling air from my nostrils, chuckle. It oozes the aura that makes you want to dredge forward until the credits roll. For transparency's sake, I didn’t manage to finish since there reports of a bug that makes it impossible, and they’re factual. I’m not going to let that dissuade my opinion, though, as a patch should be live as you’re reading this coverage, that’s meant to fix it. When it comes to my recommendation, it’s a no-brainer - if you love Waifu-vania, why haven’t you bought TEVI?


TEVI IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


The Publisher provided the code used for the purposes of this review.

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