Perhaps owing to the sheer volume of Metroidvanias I’ve played in the last few years (hell, I’m playing three right now), I struggled to get the appeal of Tevi in the first hour or so. Movement seemed basic, the story and art weren’t ringing my bell, and I found the environments too bland to remember routes I’d taken. As with any good game in the genre, though, the steady drop feed of abilities and ramp up in difficulty eventually began to bring Tevi to life for me.
Its billing as a bullet-hell Metroidvania initially had me perplexed, too. In the early biomes it’s anything but bullet hell, with minimal enemies per screen and plenty of time to dodge attacks. You’re also quite robust, weathering attacks without much trouble. That slowly begins to change as you progress, until you’re eventually facing bosses that require pinpoint reflexes to survive. But Tevi never reaches the heights of a Soulslike in terms of difficulty, and those who crave a real steep challenge may find themselves a little disappointed by the bullet-hell label.
The story remained pretty forgettable throughout though. I can see there’s a market for it, combined with a RWBY art style that renders the usually pixelated sprites as highly detailed anime characters during cutscenes complete with bunny ears, animal tails, and plunging necklines. Tevi herself is a sassy engineer with a pair of white bunny ears that let her fit in with her “Beastkin” friends. She travels primarily in the company of Sable and Celia (of the aforementioned neckline), who embody two magitech orbs that give Tevi her ranged attacks. Other characters are introduced throughout, such as Tevi’s inventor father, but the meat of the game often takes you away from these encounters and out into the world.
Each biome you travel through is themed, and there’s a good variety of environments from desert military bases to a biome based on the Greek underworld. There’s not much of a real pattern or flow to it, and you have teleporters to get around and revisit areas as you acquire new powers. And there are lots of areas, too, with Tevi clicking up around 40 different biomes in a campaign that feels long for the genre. That said, it doesn’t feel like a slog. I can take or leave the character interactions to an extent, but the gameplay is always solid and there’s a great variety of enemies, bosses, and powers throughout.
As more characters join Tevi’s entourage, you’ll spend more time in the menus adjusting equipment, powers, and Sigils. The menus are easy to navigate, thankfully, though I think the map could stand to be more helpful when highlighting where to go, as if you haven’t discovered it yet it’ll just drop an exclamation mark in empty space which only gives you a direction. And given that Tevi is a game that not only allows, but encourages, sequence breaking, it’s quite easy to go the wrong way even when you’re not strictly supposed to be able to.
But the combat is fun despite being initially simple, mixing in things like uppercut strikes and air combos alongside multiple ranged attacks and movement abilities. There are bombs to clear certain obstacles, and some walls can be destroyed with Tevi’s attacks to open up secrets and alternative routes. Enemies respawn screen to screen though, so be aware of that when backtracking to explore. Bosses force you to use everything in your repertoire to stay alive, throwing multiple particle effects and laser beams at you as you bounce from platform to platform, returning fire with Celia and Sable until you can get close enough to use your combos and get back out again.
Tevi is a great 2D MetroidVania title, but how highly you rate it comes down to how much you appreciate the art style and a slightly dull opening hour. Compared to other recent genre offerings such as The Last Faith and Frontier Hunter: Erza’s Wheel of Fortune it doesn’t quite ascend to the top for me, but it’s an impressive, charming adventure nonetheless. If you like your bullet-hell games challenging but fair (although you can up the difficulty considerably thanks to multiple options), then you’ll enjoy spending time in Tevi’s expansive, colourful world.
Lots of variety
Tevi is a charming protagonist
Opening is a bit dull
Story is forgettable