A quartet of beautiful, pixelated landscapes set the scene for this young girl's adventure through strange lands, in an attempt to restore order - and get her
beloved teddy bear back!
Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is the game, and Finding Teddy 2 is its alternate name. For this game is the sequel to the 2013 game
Finding Teddy, a point and click PC adventure from developers Storybird.
However, for the sequel, Storybird have taken the game in a different direction and given us an action adventure and role-playing game.
The story in Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus follows on from the original, which saw a young girl on an adventure to retrieve her
teddy bear, stolen by the lonely King Tarant who opened a gateway between Exidus and the world of Men to seek friendship.
This time, the king has been defeated by an evil magician named Anguis, who has taken over the kingdom and closed the gateway to the world of Men. Four
magical eggs required to power this gateway have been trapped within the Great Books of Monsters and he has subsequently hidden these books
throughout the kingdomís Library of Worlds. The soul of King Tarant somehow makes its way to the world of Men and inhabits our young heroines teddy bear and
leads her back through a portal to help him defeat Anguis.
The adventure takes you through various landscapes, ranging from grim, dark swamps, to beautiful, snowy mountains and lush meadows filled with brightly
coloured flowers. To accompany these rich visuals, the soundtrack is equally satisfying, offering music that fits each area perfectly.
You start the game with a basic sword and shield, but as you collect gems from your slain foes in this 2D adventure - and loot the occasional chest of course
- you can purchase upgrades. These range from additional health orbs to new clothing; you will also find new abilities from each area you visit, allowing you
to swim - or, more accurately, float in a rubber ring - double jump and even wall jump.
But, one of your more powerful upgrades is the power of language. The inhabitants of Exidus speak in musical tones. You soon obtain the Lexicom,
which is your Exidus phrase book. By finding runes and listening to the creatures you encounter, you unlock the ability to speak - or sing - certain words
and phrases. With these phrases you can unlock doors, melt ice and instruct giant guardians to carry you to new places.
Following the text-based intro which leads you into this adventure, one of the first things youíll notice about
Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is how visually striking the game is. Fans of pixel graphics will no doubt instantly fall in love with
the visuals on offer here. Each area is well crafted and detailed, while still retaining that retro look, similar to the earlier Legend of Zelda and Metroid
The Metroid comparison remains throughout this adventure, as Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is another of the increasingly
popular 'Metroidvania' style of games.
However, the rest of the game is likely to divide opinion.
Despite its cutesy appearance and the involvement of teddy bears, those looking for a light-hearted romp through the strange and wonderful lands found
within the books are in for a sharp shock. Youíll find no hand-holding here and will instead see your hand slapped away, blindfolded, stripped of map and
compass and repeatedly pushed to the edge of your patience. Leading to many elements of Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus becoming
increasingly frustrating the more that you play through the game.
As solid (and bizarre) as the story sounds, it often feels very disjointed and without direction. Youíll find yourself blindly stumbling along without any
idea of where you should be going. Youíll come across various collectables, but have no idea why youíre collecting them until you eventually arrive at a
village and one of its inhabitants will thank you for returning their instruments, or christmas tree decorations.
And for a game where combat plays a fairly big part, it is by far one of the worst and most inconsistent aspects of
Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus.
The various creatures of the world - that you encounter - usually require you to crouch before you are able to hit them, while the humanoid enemies each
require a specific - yet greatly flawed - tactic. For example; an armoured enemy with a shield cannot be attacked directly, so you need to crouch until the
enemy mimics you. At that point you stand up and quickly hit them on the head to cause damage, then repeat this process until they are dead. Crouching blocks
their attacks, yet if they step forward, youíll be hurt by sheer contact with them.
Enemies regularly stand several steps away from you, wildly slashing their swords with no hope of ever making contact, before turning and walking in the
opposite direction. This allows you to rush in and stab them in the back, to which they fail to react and happily continue walking while you kill them from
behind. These terribly designed combat mechanics regularly lead to the death of your character.
Dying in any game can be a frustrating experience, but in Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus it is rage inducing at times. Despite
allowing you to save your progress at any time, you are not able to resume your progress from the point you saved. Instead, upon loading the game or
respawning after death, you are taken back to an undisclosed checkpoint.
If you have made your way through a particularly long cave or section, you then have to go all the way back through, having to deal with every enemy again,
in the hope that you donít die before you reach the point you were at before dying all over again.
Each time you leave your mortal coil you also lose some of your money (or marbles as itís referred to). If you have a tough time getting through a
frustrating and difficult section, you may come out the other side with no money left at all. This makes purchasing upgrades a tiresome process - literally
making you lose your marbles.
Thankfully, the in-game store allows you to leave a kind of deposit on items, paying what little you may have towards the total cost of an item, then
coming back later to pay some more or the remaining balance. This at least means any money you do manage to come out of a level with, wonít be lost in the
next one before you have chance to spend any of it.
However, despite the aforementioned combat issues, the boss battles in Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus are surprisingly enjoyable,
albeit short. These battles place you in a room with a boss that fills most of the space and introduces varying mechanics for defeating each of them,
utilising the various abilities you have gained through your journey.
I particularly enjoyed the battle with Harao - the third boss of the game - which sees you taking on a crystallised snake-like creature.
The Lexicom is at least an interesting mechanic to the game, and finding all 12 Lexicom runes is a worthy achievement. Unfortunately, the implementation of
this mechanic is also a little flawed, as youíre required to open the Lexicom each time you need to speak a phrase. Some sections of the game require you to
speak a phrase to remove spikes from a platform before you can jump over. With four or five platforms in a row you then need to open the Lexicom at each one,
speak the phrase, jump, open the Lexicom, speak the phrase, jumpÖ you get the idea. Something as simple as binding your last spoken phrase to a button on the
controller would have solved the issue.
Whilst many may find these particular elements frustrating, Iím sure there are also others there that appreciate - and even seek out - this level of difficulty
and challenge. Personally, I found the aimless wandering and backtracking to be rather tiresome and the lack of a physical disc to snap in rage meant my
PlayStation 4 drew the ire of my dark thoughts.
Overall, Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus has plenty of charm, but with that charm comes equal measures of frustration and
If youíre a fan of the original Legend of Zelda games, or the more recent Dust: An Elysian Tale, you may want to take a look at this one, but maybe play with
a cheap controller you donít mind breakingÖ
Review copy provided by the publisher for the PlayStation 4.