How Metroidvania is it? Low Fit. You don't gain any new abilities in this game - everything is gated by keys - but there is an emphasis on exploration to power up, with a host of collectables that will scratch that exploration itch for some
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~3 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code for Frauki's Adventure was provided by the developer through Curator Connect
Buy Frauki's Adventure! if you like…
- Methodical Combat
- Boss Rushes
- Nostalgic Music
- Funny Dialog
▼ Review continues below ▼
The Great Fairy isn’t very happy that some aliens landed in her nice garden, so she summons Frauki to go murder them. Luckily they’re just robot aliens, so we don’t have to worry about the ESRB getting upset about blood and gore because there is none! Killing robots is what Frauki’s Adventure is all about, but it uses some semi-Metroidvania style exploration to break up the pacing a bit, which is really a good complimentary secondary activity for any action game. Frauki’s Adventure’s lower price point does bring some expectations about production values though, and in this case you get a fairly short length and some quirks to go with the game’s polish. Calling it a “Mini Metroidvania” – a sub genre which I usually spend some time defending when I review one – isn’t exactly accurate here because Frauki’s Adventures arguably doesn’t check all of the boxes to be a Metroidvania in the first place. You don’t gain any new abilities throughout the game, just upgrades to your existing numbers. Combat is purely the focus here, but it isn’t a stretch to say that some Metroidvania fans will still appreciate what Frauki’s Adventure does, and on the subject of Mini Metroidvania value, it still provides a good bite-sized adventure you can enjoy without a whole lot of commitment. If you enjoy a good combat challenge, Frauki’s Adventure isn’t perfect, but it delivers.
One of the first impressions I got when I first gained control of Frauki is that the animations felt a bit sticky. Once you’ve pushed your attack button, you’re committed to a deliberate movement until the attack is done. This isn’t an unfamiliar design choice, it’s how Simon Belmont’s whip worked in the first Castlevania, although that whip wasn’t nearly as stylish as Frauki’s light saber. By pushing different directions when you attack you can perform a number of different animations that are useful for hitting enemies coming from odd angles. Of the variety of attacks you can perform, only two of them are especially slow, so you really only have to be aware of using those moves accidentally if you’re worried you’re going to get hit while you’re vulnerable during recovery. You also don’t have to stay vulnerable for very long because you have a dodge button that makes you almost instantly invincible when you press it. Dodging makes Frauki comically loop into a swirl of herself which she pops out of a small distance away, and there’s so little lag on this dodge that it makes for a great way to move quickly through the level geometry. Also spamming the dodge makes you invincible almost all the time unless you hit a wall or a slope. Attacking is basically the only time you’re vulnerable, so you have to be as deliberate as the animations you get locked into.
Thankfully with such punishing attack animations enemies are designed to telegraph their attacks like a train toots its whistle, and with one enemy in particular this isn’t just a metaphor. There’s actually a surprising variety of enemies to find in Frogland, but in regards to the Robot Aliens specifically there are basically 5-6 types you’ll be fighting over and over again. Frauki’s Adventure keeps the would-be repetition interesting by combining enemies together to fight all at once, or by changing up the terrain – which in the late game can severely restrict your options. Some enemies move fast enough that memorization can often be a quicker strategy than relying on your ability to react to their telegraphs, but the overpowered nature of your dodge does make reaction a viable enough strategy. The two slower attacks I mentioned earlier are rewarded with extra damage, and it feels incredibly good to land your more powerful moves when you can, making the risk well worth it. Later enemies will have attack patterns that are especially dangerous and can be a bit unpredictable, so removing them as a threat and their opportunity to use those attacks along with them makes fast kills especially gratifying. Of course, missing a power attack against these types of enemies can almost guarantee you’re going to get sucker punched back during your recovery frames.
Combat is tight enough in a white room, but where most of Frauki’s Adventure’s polish issues come up is when terrain is involved. I mentioned that when you hit slopes your dodge move is less reliable for the invincibility frames, which is easy enough to predict when you can clearly see where a slope is going to be, that isn’t always the case though. Even though this game is short there is a pretty wide variety of terrains you’ll fighting in, thus terrain related woes are going to be more prevalent than they otherwise could have been. Because of this, the game can feel a bit unfair sometimes, especially during the final gauntlet which I’ll talk about in a bit. Outside of combat though platforming can often be frustrating, with a few required segments seeming almost impossible at first glance. The main culprit in the platforming woes is Frauki’s ability to cling to ledges. When you jump off the ledge the result isn’t always consistent, making areas where you have to climb up multiple ledges especially aggravating. Luckily this game never makes you attempt ledge grab gambles in the middle of a combat situation – unless you accidentally jump towards a wall – but it does matter when you’re trying to explore for secrets.
The secrets in Frauki’s Adventure are quite rewarding even if those rewards are just more boring health upgrades or “explorer tokens” that don’t actually seem to matter. More health of course makes a huge difference in how punishing combat can actually be, so while you’ll never find a double jump or air dash, or any of the fun staple Metroidvania combat powers, it’s still worth looking around to get more powerful. Because you don’t get any movement upgrades, there will never be any secrets that you can’t get the first time you go through an area. Some might be locked behind shortcut doors, but if you’re paying close enough attention you can get the important health upgrades with little to no backtracking. This is good because Frauki’s Adventure doesn’t have any kind of map system, and if you’ve missed something, you’ll wish it had. Explorer tokens are really the main thing that suffers from the lack of this feature, since those do require some shenanigans to access. Frogland takes place on a floating island and if you fall off the outside of this island at any time it loops you back to the top of it, potentially giving you access to areas between areas if you land in just the right space during your descent. Of course there are many explorer tokens in those hidden nooks, but with no easy way to check them off (like if there was a map system), I didn’t personally bother with collecting them all – thus for all I know getting all of the tokens gets you access to a death ray that makes the final gauntlet a lot easier. It’s not as if Frogland is particularly huge, but there is a bit of repetition with re-fighting enemies if you’re exploring any time after you die. For the more immediately important health upgrades though, exploring Frogland is quite fun, and the rewards are important enough to make it satisfying.
Once you get used to the telegraphs and memorize a few patterns, most of Frauki’s Adventure is a casual experience, but then you’re presented with a difficulty spike that could pierce the sun. The game’s final gauntlet is something else. You’re expected to face off with enemies you’ve gotten used to over the last two hours one after another, but with many of them changing the rules of the game, and all of this on the same health bar. The game really hopes you’ve been diligent about getting those health upgrades, because those are the only source of reprieve from the insane challenge that this gauntlet presents. I’m not kidding when I say that I have two recordings from two play sessions where I clear the bulk of the game in a couple of sittings, and then I have four other videos of attempts trying to beat this final gauntlet. I don’t actually have anything against the setup here, Frauki’s Adventure actually does do a very good job training you for the challenge even if the “rule changes” might be a bit unfair in that context. The problem with this gauntlet is that without the safety net of frequent checkpoints and shortcuts, some of Frauki’s Adventure’s polish issues start to stick out a lot more. A failed dodge because of a wonky piece of terrain or an AI pattern that doesn’t quite seem as consistent each time you see it makes the final gauntlet feel more RNG oriented than it should be – which on one health bar, it shouldn’t feel RNG-based at all. Did I beat the game because I got good or did I do it because I got lucky? That’s the unfortunate question I have to ask myself when completing Frauki’s Adventure. That isn’t to say it wasn’t satisfying that I actually did it – I couldn’t review this game if I didn’t and that brings satisfaction by itself – but Frauki’s Adventure’s final difficulty spike is definitely something you should be aware of before going into this game.
Part of what makes beating Frauki’s Adventure worth it is the really amusing dialog. It’s all an obvious satire of game tropes, but it makes me chuckle nevertheless. The “good fairy” is hilariously bloodthirsty, and all of her subjects that you meet are so incredibly indolent and worthless. The robots may look mean and they’re definitely violating the Fairy’s property, but you’re definitely not the “good guy” or at the very least you’re not working for them. It’s like a doofy fantasy gang war, and it’s great. It’s definitely not the kind of story that you play the game for by itself, but the humor is a wonderful little added bonus on top of some pretty fun combat challenges.
Frauki’s Adventure delivers exactly what it aims to. It’s a budget action title with a dash of exploration that I think will appeal to those looking for a Mini-Metroidvania with a tighter emphasis on combat. It doesn’t deliver the kind of ability gating and back tracking that “Mini-Metroidvania” calls to mind, but it also doesn’t really need to as long as you understand what you’re getting out of it. The best expectation you can set is to look at the entire game as a preparation for what would otherwise be an unfair final gauntlet of enemies, and tackle this title with that aim. You’ll be rewarded with some amusing character dialog and sense of satisfaction assuming you actually manage to tame some of Frauki’s Adventure’s wilder quirks. For the price point, you’re going to get a good time for your money, if you’re up for a challenge.
Frauki's Adventure has fun, methodical, and highly telegraphed combat that could use just a little more tightening down on its mechanics and maybe some more variety, but given that this is a short adventure it's entertaining for what it is
Grabbing ledges doesn't always feel like it's working consistently, but thankfully the game rarely tests your platforming abilities when it actually matters
While the only reward for exploring is health, shield upgrades, and superfluous ''explorer tokens'', figuring out where everything is can be a lot of fun. The lack of a map system may make grabbing those last tokens a bit troublesome though.
Besides figuring out how to get all the exploration rewards (which is included in the exploration score), there are no puzzles in this game
The premise and dialog is very funny and really helps set the tone of the gameplay
The art is very pleasant and the animations look fantastic, although the animations don't always go through their frames at consistent speeds which can mess with timing sometimes
What music is there is very nostalgic and fits well with the lighthearted nature of the game. The music seems to ''break'' sometimes though and not play at all
Besides the usual challenge run options, there aren't any features that would reward a second playthrough
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