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Written by Russell Archey on 12/19/2023 for SWI  
More On: TEVI

I don’t know why, but ever since playing the games that helped define the genre in Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, I’ve been drawn Metroidvanias. On the flipside I’m kind of terrible at bullet hell games. Bullet hell games are those in which you’ll often come across battles where the screen is filled to the brim with projectiles that seem like they’ll easily smack into you, but your hit box is incredibly small and you have to perfectly dodge and weave your way through the projectiles. Looking at TEVI, I wondered how my favorite genre would work when mixed with one that I'm not so great at.

TEVI takes place in Az, a world populated by humans, Magitech, and Beastkin that is recovering from a recent major conflict: the Magitech Rebellion. The game begins with the titular protagonist Tevi captured for trespassing around the base of the bandit group, The Golden Hands, on her way to Morose. After freeing herself from her cell and gaining back her gear, she eventually finds an Astral Gear, an artifact that can continuously generate mana and can power and optimize mana technology. After taking out the guard that captured her, she meets an angel named Celia and a demon named Sable.  With the help of the Astral Gear, the two can transform into Tevi’s orbitars allowing Tevi to use their power on her journey. After escaping they go to Tevi’s home and meet with her adoptive father, a scientist, who is collecting Astral Gears scattered across Az as part of his research. This is just the start of Tevi’s adventure.

At the start of the game Tevi will acquire her dagger that was taken from her when she was caught, and that’s going to be your main method of attacking. Combat in Tevi revolves around combos and knowing when you can attack enemies effectively and when to back off. You can attack enemies when they have no outline or a yellow outline (submissive state). Enemies in a submissive state when they’re not attacking makes them susceptible to blowback and knockback, allowing you to combo them further. When they have a red outline (dominant state), enemy actions can’t be interrupted and they will take less damage from melee attacks. This is when you want to back off to avoid taking damage from their attacks and to get the outline on the enemy to reset. You can also use Celia and Sable as Tevi’s orbitars to perform ranged attacks as well as cross bombs to gain a bit more damage in your combos.

Instead of collecting a bunch of different weapons, Tevi can find and equip sigils that can add various effects to her combos. These can range from something as simple as dealing more damage when you’re behind the enemy to dealing more damage if the enemy is in a blowback state, but not as much if they’re in a BREAK state. Some sigils will give passive effects, like regaining a bit of health for every new block of the map you uncover while exploring. You will come across a lot of sigils in TEVI, either finding them lying around, purchasing them in a shop, or crafting them using materials you’ll find. Most sigils require EP to equip which you can increase over time. After only a few hours in I had over sixty EP with a lot of sigils equipped. With all of the sigils you can find it, can be a bit tough to remember what they all do. Thankfully you can have up to three different sigil loadouts you can save so you can have different loadouts for different situations.

I mentioned that TEVI is part Metroidvania and I can understand why some players may think this doesn’t feel that much like a typical game in the genre. At times you will have multiple objectives to work on and while there may be some areas you can’t get to without a new ability, there’s typically nothing really blocking your way to completing the objectives. Not all Metroidvania games completely block you off from all but one path until you get some later upgradesm, so this is like a Metroidvania game with a bit more freedom. But what about the other genre, bullet hell? Normal enemies can shoot projectiles but they’re rather easy to dodge with minimal effort. To see a more bullet hell battle you have to go to one of the standout features of TEVI: boss fights.

With a lot of normal enemies, you can get right in their face and spam attacks until they go down. Boss fights require you to learn every attack the boss can throw at you, how to tell what attack they’re going to throw at you, and how to avoid it. You will have times that you can get in close to get off a good combo until they enter a dominant state. At that point it’s time to back off and see what they’re going to do.  Early boss fights aren’t too difficult, but as TEVI progresses you’ll learn why this is part bullet hell. You can deal all the damage you want but if you can’t learn how to weave in and out of tiny gaps in the enemy’s projectiles, you’ll be stuck on that fight for quite some time. Aside from their health bar, enemies will have a special meter below it that once emptied, you can unleash a large combo as it fills back up and deal massive damage. Bottom line is that if you’re impatient and just want to constantly rush up to a boss and mash the attack button, you won’t get very far in TEVI.

In addition to everything else I’ve already praised about TEVI, the game looks and sounds wonderful. The art style is a mix of pixel-based during gameplay and the occasional anime-style stills used for some of the cut scenes and both types of art works. While I don’t typically talk about a game’s dialogue in my reviews, the dialogue in TEVI is great with a good sense of humor throughout that allows the characters’ personalities to shine. While I enjoyed my time with TEVI, there is one thing I have to nitpick on a bit and it’s surprisingly something I’ve already praised: the combat, or more specifically combat along with sigils.

I mentioned that only a few hours in I had around sixty EP and a decent number of sigils. At that point I had several sigils equipped that dealt with modifying combos in some way, a few of which let me add a few moves to the combo. I’m going to admit this is probably more of a “me” thing, but it was getting to the point I was forgetting what the sigils I had equipped did. Part of this could have been that I had enough EP to equip almost every sigil I had, but keep in mind I was only a few hours in. As you get further and further you’ll have a lot more sigils and EP to use to equip them.  Furthermore the combat system will grade you during the combo, showing how many hits you’ve done and the current grade for the combo and some sigils rely on those numbers and grades being rather high. Regular combat can be rather trivial but if you can figure out how to combine the abilities of the sigils you have equipped, they can make boss fights a lot easier as well.

Overall I really enjoyed TEVI, at least when I wasn’t trying to remember what all of my sigils did. As much as I enjoyed the combat it can become overly simple and complex at the same time since a lot of the combos are just pressing Y over and over, but equipping more sigils can make the combos more complex while making the battles themselves easier. Even with that, I never really got bored with the game as everything else is great. If TEVI looks interesting but you’re not quite ready to plop down the thirty dollars for it, you can download a demo for it on Steam which I recommend checking out to get used to how the mechanics work. If you enjoy the demo then I’d definitely recommend checking out the full game.

TEVI is an enjoyable game with a great art style, fun dialogue, and a combat system that can somehow be both simple and complex at the same time.  The Metroidvania-style gameplay isn’t quite as strict as others in the genre and most of the bullet hell scenarios take place during the boss fights which require a good amount of patience and strategy.  If you enjoy the demo, I definitely recommend checking out the full version.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.


About Author

I began my lifelong love of gaming at an early age with my parent's Atari 2600.  Living in the small town that I did, arcades were pretty much non-existent so I had to settle for the less than stellar ports on the Atari 2600.  For a young kid my age it was the perfect past time and gave me something to do before Boy Scout meetings, after school, whenever I had the time and my parents weren't watching anything on TV.  I recall seeing Super Mario Bros. played on the NES at that young age and it was something I really wanted.  Come Christmas of 1988 (if I recall) Santa brought the family an NES with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and I've been hooked ever since.

Over 35 years from the first time I picked up an Atari joystick and I'm more hooked on gaming than I ever have been.  If you name a system, classics to moderns, there's a good chance I've not only played it, but own it.  My collection of systems spans multiple decades, from the Odyssey 2, Atari 2600, and Colecovision, to the NES, Sega Genesis, and Panasonic 3DO, to more modern systems such as the Xbox One and PS4, and multiple systems in between as well as multiple handhelds.  As much as I consider myself a gamer I'm also a game collector.  I love collecting the older systems not only to collect but to play (I even own and still play a Virtual Boy from time to time).  I hope to bring those multiple decades of gaming experience to my time here at Gaming Nexus in some fashion.
These days when I'm not working my day job in the fun filled world of retail, I'm typically working on my backlog of games collecting dust on my bookshelf or trying to teach myself C# programming, as well as working on some projects over on YouTube and streaming on Twitch.  I've been playing games from multiple generations for over 35 years and I don't see that slowing down any time soon.
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