I’ve played a lot of precision-platformers that demand pixel-perfect manoeuvres, perfect timing, and a lot of patience in order to succeed, but none have pushed me to my limit quite as much as Telmari. It could be a good thing at times, especially when your perseverance sees you succeeding through a hard level, but I couldn’t help but to find myself feeling more frustrated than anything as I tried to survive through the game’s exceptionally difficult perils.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The game puts players in the role of Telmari, a young girl who finds that her sunflowers have been ruined by some mysterious thorny roots that have overrun her farm. It turns out that those roots are coming from something known as ‘The Eternal Flaming Tree’, which can only be stopped if she leads a little creature known as The Ancient One to the mountainous region in which it lies it in order to perform an immolation spell. It’s a run-of-the-mill narrative really, but it’s clear that the platforming of Telmari is the priority, so it won’t worry players too much.

I really liked the core concept of Telmari, which sees players launching special plunger-arrows from their bow that can be used to bounce across each level. These arrows will stick into most solid surfaces in the game (with the exception of thorny hazards or enemies) but be warned: they can only be bounced on twice before they break and they also only stay put for a limited time before they disappear. They come in an infinite quantity though, so don’t be afraid to blast a ton of of them in your surroundings as a means to get from point A to B – just make sure you don’t place one in an area that’ll accidentally launch you into one of the many hazards that are scattered across each level…

It’s a simple idea that lends itself really well to the platforming gameplay, with it satisfying to come up with the perfect setup of arrows that’ll see you bounce across levels with ease. You’ll build momentum as you bounce between each arrow too, making it possible to effectively get through some levels without even touching the ground. It certainly helps give Telmari its own puzzle-like spin on the precision-platforming genre, with traversal relying on clever planning more than just fast running and jumping.

“Somebody else could play the game and love the high difficulty or manage to pull off their shots with perfection, so it could really be a ME thing. In honesty, though? I do think the game could’ve done with a bit more balancing just to make its challenge feel more rewarding.”

There are a few other ideas introduced as you go along, with things like warp pipes, timed hazards, and vicious creatures all keeping players on their toes as they traverse levels. The enemy variety is decent too, with creatures like dodos marching in your way, frogs leaping across the map, bulls pursuing Telmari as soon as she’s in their sight, flies spitting hazards down into your path, or hermit crabs actively destroying any arrows you place, just to name a few. When paired with the creative level design that challenges players to utilise every trick up their sleeve, it’s clear that Telmari isn’t quick to run out of ideas to keep the experience fresh and challenging.

But that’s where my main issue with Telmari lies: it can be TOO challenging. That isn’t always down to the level design either (although levels are designed to be punishing), with the game’s controls and mechanics often lacking the fluidity seen in similar titles in the genre. For example, you’re limited in the direction that you can shoot your arrows, meaning you have to be in a very specific position if you want to make one land in an area that you can reach – whilst this is intentional in design, it can be incredibly finicky when trying to do so when quickly running from an enemy or in the midst of a big jump. And sure, I’ll admit that this could be a skill issue at times, but there were so many times that the margin for error was SO small that it would take me forever to progress through an area. This was during the first world of the game too, so it’s not even as if I hit the more challenging later levels where I would expect a difficulty spike.

Maybe if it offered something like twin stick-style aiming with the bow, it would be more versatile to give players more precision in which to line up their shots. It wouldn’t be so bad if you were dealing with tricky aiming alone, but when you’ve also got enemies on your back, there’s a small window of opportunity to actually progress – it caused SO many deaths, and whilst I did eventually succeed through levels, it typically felt more frustrating than rewarding.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Of course, somebody else could play the game and love the high difficulty or manage to pull off their shots with perfection, so it could really be a ME thing. In honesty, though? I do think the game could’ve done with a bit more balancing just to make its challenge feel more rewarding. I’ll admit, I didn’t finish it before writing this review either, but I did get to the third world – at that point, I’d just accepted defeat. Those who do enjoy the challenge will be glad to see there are optional objectives in levels though, with players able to see their deaths in a level, time taken, and also able to race The Ancient One to get to the end of each level first. There’s also a leaderboard in place to compare level times with other players, but it didn’t seem to be working during my time with the game. It’s a shame, because I was interested to see if other players had as rough of a time with the difficulty as I did…

Telmari Review

Whilst I liked the concept of Telmari and it offers plenty of diversity across its level design and enemies, the challenging difficulty and lack of precision with the bow left me feeling more frustrated than anything when playing. I’ve admitted that this could also be a skill issue, but with so many levels causing frustration (as well as having plenty of experience and success in other precision-platformers), I also think that the game could’ve done with a bit more balancing to make its challenging levels feel more rewarding to complete.

I don’t want to be too harsh on Telmari because it has some neat ideas and it certainly manages to keep its level design feeling fresh, but it really wasn’t for me.

Developer: Phoenix Blasters
Publisher: Phoenix Blasters
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2468110/Telmari/