I have been keeping an eye on Aragami ever since it’s been announced. Everything from the game play to the graphics had me hooked, and except from some minor technical issues, the game certainly didn’t disappoint.
You are an Aragami, a vengeful warrior summoned by Yamito, a lady in desperate need of your help. She needs you to rescue her and in the process, fight and defeat the Kaiho, the army of light. You do this by wielding lights natural enemy, the dark. More specifically shadows. Using shadow essence, the player can perform a wide range of skills and techniques. As Aragami is at its roots a hard-core stealth game, you can use your control of the shadows to shadow leap from darkness to darkness. Or maybe you want to use your invisibility to sneak up on an enemy that keeps spotting you. Aragami provides you with plenty of ways to play depending on your preferred style. If you want to never been seen or kill anyone, then you’re going to want to create shadows and shadow leap from area to area avoiding the various AI. Maybe you want to kill everything you see, we all have that urge from time to time, then you’re going to want to cause distractions using either the bell that creates noise or you can use a decoy. From there you can sneak up and kill them. However as mentioned, Aragami is a hard core stealth game. Don’t expect to be able to just run through the level killing anyone you want. One hit from the enemy kills you, and the checkpoints are far enough apart that you can’t just keep running checkpoint to checkpoint.
Finding scrolls throughout the levels will give you skill points. The game provides a generous amount of skills, each costing a various amount of points. You can channel these whatever way you best see fit, further supporting the way you want to play, and not how the developers think you should play. Sometimes in stealth games players are forced into not killing or killing everything you see. It’s always appreciated when you are given some choice. The level themselves are well designed, they are big and open and it’s a good idea to explore every inch. Not just to find the scrolls to get skill points but also to find alters to refill the skills you have used. Of course there is a risk/reward in doing so. Sure you may desperately need to refill your invisibility to get past a particularly hard area, but finding your way to a alter might just get you killed. The game tries to help you by allowing you to see where in the map the objectives and alters are located. Of course it’s up to you to take the risk. After each level the player is presented with some information on how they did. These include the same three challenges repeated each time, kill all enemies, kill no enemies and complete the level undetected. Like any classic stealth game, you are given a rank based on your performance. Get lots of stealth kills and you’re on your way to a good rank. Get detected however and your score will go down. The information also tells you how many scrolls you found so you can kick yourself for missing one, or two, or all of them. Not that I am talking from personal experience or anything…
The game itself is beautiful. Not in the triple ‘A’ graphics kind of way, but in the “wow this is a really cool and unique art style” kind of way. If that makes sense? You can see it yourself by looking at the pictures in this review. The game is very loyal to its setting. Nothing looks out of place or that it doesn’t belong. I also really liked the look of the main character. It’s bold and unique and looks different based on if you’re in the shadows or the light. The developers could easily have kept the character looking the same, but it’s a nice touch and continues to make the game something different and unique. One of the best parts of the visuals in my opinion is the UI. It’s very minimal, you won’t see the shadow essence meter in one of the corners like you would expect. Instead some of the UI is on the characters cloak. You can see how much shadow essence you have left based on how far down the patterns of your cloak go. As you use your shadow essence the patterns from the bottom of your cloak disappear. In a way it’s just a patterned UI bar on its side and then placed on the cloak, but it doesn’t matter because it’s clever and a nice touch. The same goes for what skill is equipped and how many uses you have left, all shown on the cloak.
Aragami unfortunately has some minor technical issues. Nothing game breaking or anything that takes away from your enjoyment but they are noticeable. There are some frame rate issues, not constantly or very often, but they are noticeable when they happen. I also noticed when playing with a controller that the button to show the direction of objectives also cause the Aragami to use his bell to attract enemies. This caused me to get caught often, and it’s slightly frustrating. I also shadow leaped into a non-enterable building at one point which I couldn’t get out of. I had to restart the level to be able to continue. It’s also worth mentioning sometimes if you move the camera in a certain way you can see through walls. It is worth pointing out the developers are hard at work fixing these issues, multiple times throughout my time reviewing the game a patch would appear making the game more technically stable each time. None of these issues should put you off buying the game, but it’s my duty to make you aware of them. Other than that the game has no issues and for an indie game has impressive loading times.
Aragami really is a true stealth game which can be played both solo or with someone else. It’s slightly let down by its technical issues, but the developers are clearly hard at work to correct these errors. Aragami is fun, exciting, hard and enjoyable game that had me coming back for more. I really loved its unique art style and enjoyable mechanics that kept the game fresh. I am glad the high expectations I had paid off, and I look forward to what comes next from the developers. So do yourself a favor, if you enjoy stealth games, pick this up and unleash your inner Aragami.
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